Business to Business Direct Mail Sales Letters Need an Offer (and Here's Why)

Alan Sharpe

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In direct mail, the offer is the incentive or reward that you dangle in front of your prospects to motivate them to respond to your mailing. In business-to-consumer direct mail, for example, a magazine publisher will offer a yearly subscription to its magazine at 60% off the newsstand price. The discount is the offer. It motivates prospects to subscribe now and save 60%.

Offers are vital to the success of your business-to-business (B2B) direct mail campaigns as well. You need to motivate action. Without a clear, compelling offer, your response rates will be low and your mailing unprofitable. Here’s why you need an offer.

1. Your prospects are preoccupied
The people you are trying to reach are just as busy as you are. They avoid salespeople. They avoid things that waste their time. They use call display. You need a compelling offer because you only have a second or two to grab your prospect’s attention at work. Don’t expect that your company name, or your product name, or your top product feature, will grab their attention. Use a compelling offer instead.

2. Your prospects don’t care about you
That sounds kind of harsh, stated like that. But your prospects don’t care about your company, your extensive client list, your qualifications or your product features. That means your direct mail package has to meet your prospects where they are, not where you are. You have to start by saying “you” rather than saying “we. ” Your offer, clearly communicated, shows prospects that you care about them.

3. Your prospects are skeptical
Tired of advertising hype? Your prospects are, too. They read all sales messages with their built-in hype detector in full operation. Your offer helps to overcome this skepticism by showing your prospects that you will reward them for taking action. You are not asking them to believe your sales pitch, just to respond to your offer, and to take the sales process to the next step.

4. Your prospects are self-interested
Your prospects are interested in themselves. They don’t want to hear about what your product or service does as much as what it will do for them. When you offer a free report that promises to save your prospects time, money or effort, or promises to make them more efficient and look good in front of their managers, you answer the “what’s in it for me?” question in a satisfactory way.

Alan is a business-to-business direct mail copywriter and lead generation consultant. As President of Sharpe Copy Inc. ( ), Alan specializes in helping businesses generate leads, close sales and retain customers, using cost-effective, compelling direct mail and email marketing. Alan also uses his direct mail advertising services to help charities raise funds and raise awareness of their causes, using fundraising letters.


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