News and views to improve the strength and vigor of all your direct response marketing activity.

Are your marketing offers as expected and “old” as throwback clip art? Read on for proven ways to craft an offer that will get you noticed …

Buy One Get One! … Get 15% Off! … Save $50 off regular price!

Oh (YAWN). You’ve heard it all before. Does anyone even care anymore? In-market testing continues to show that, yes indeed, consumers do.

From “15% off” to Free Gas Cards, isn’t the old “tried & true” just plain tired?

Well, yes … and no. Buy-One-Get-One (BOGO) and other proven offers do continue to work. But expected, “me-too” deals get passed by more often. Still, you can take heart — with imagination, you can devise new and inventive options … many of which need not cost you a cent to provide, or fulfill.

The age-old “40/40/20 Rule” (like gravity) remains stubbornly in effect. That maxim states: 40% of your next program’s success will be due to targeting; 40% driven by offer; and the remaining 20% by creative.

Our definition of “offer” for direct response marketing

It makes sense. Even the most intrusive and compelling creative, viewed by the wrong people, is doomed to fall flat. Great art & copy, seen by the right people, but lacking a persuasive offer, offers (literally) little motivation to “Act Now!” With decades of data-driven science going into targeting, many response pros will argue the 40% of success that’s fueled by offer is the most critical element in the formula. And often the most elusive.

What’s an offer worth offering to boost your response?

While the offers that come quickly to mind when you look to boost response are the typical discounts, coupons and such, a winning offer need not be a financial incentive. Inventing non-financial offers isn’t always easy, but our experience shows the effort can pay off handsomely.

Admit 2 Seminar Ticket
More than “just another sales presentation” — this offer creates an event with complimentary tickets!

Fortunately for all of us live-for-the-newest-next-idea creative folks, these offers aren’t just another number plugged into a percentage-off formula. Fortunately for bottom-line-driven product managers, those non-discount offers also tend to deliver a higher ROI. Because they don’t cost anything extra – just the time to invent a new spin on services that are already there.

Enter the “Next-Gen” marketing offer.

“If an offer to urge response isn’t about money,” you might wonder, “what is it about?”

We look to other motivation factors in the human psyche. Ego, for example. Fear. Exclusivity. Convenience. The desire to be “the first,” to get special treatment, not fall behind in the knowledge game. All of these can get people off the dime and onto your website or inbound telemarketing line. There’s also a broader category of “Greed,” encompassing rewards other than money. A few examples of alternative offers we have used with success …

15% rate discount and $150 Fitness reimbursement coupon-like graphics
Show a product feature as a “coupon” and you create a new “offer” in the consumer’s eyes.

1. Add value via packaging & presentation. After all, it’s about perceived value. An offer for a “Free Phone Consultation” can attract more qualified response than yet another invitation to “Call for free quote.”

Developing the Admittance Ticket shown above, for a series of existing free information seminars, created more of an event than a standard sales presentation, while adding cache and an attractive new offer to “redeem” your ticket.

Another technique for presenting the “same old” benefits is shown at right. Suddenly, by applying a retail coupon look to existing copy points, the value of a standard product feature gets it’s full due and it’s seen as “special.” You’ve created a new offer, attracted new attention — and boosted response. All with no marketing expense.

2. Enhance exclusivity & prestige. To urge response for an Rx drug plan, we created the VIP card shown here. Sending it to prospects with an offer to receive “personal” information (which had always been personalized) when agreeing to a salesperson’s visit, created a “new” and compelling offer with increased perceived value.

VIP Member Card
Sending prospects this card, and offering “exclusive” personalized, free info proved to be a winner.

For AIG Private Client Group, which serves a very high-end clientele, re-positioning and renaming a sales call as a “Complimentary Lifestyle and Insurance Portfolio Review” proved to be a very effective new positioning of their existing service, and more accurately reflected the value of that conversation, as well.

3. Polishing up the hidden luster in your “same old” service. Sometimes, a talented copywriter can spin new gold from services a company takes for granted. One health care client routinely meets with prospects in their homes – driving up in VW Beetles emblazoned with custom graphics. Old hat for them; but new and different for the prospect being visited. By showing the unique car and calling attention to the value in that visit as a “House Call,” we created a new and attractive offer of personal service.

Creating a new promotion here involved coining the “House Call” phrase to re-package an existing service as an offer. No added cost, no muss, no fuss.

Similarly, merchandising an “its just what we do” concierge customer service for Network Health, created a differentiator which helped their brand increase market share and membership many times over.

Touting the speed of another client’s phone center operations as a call to action — “5 min and 5 Questions that can change your life!” — our team created an intriguing new offer by merchandising their telemarketing protocol as an immediate gratification benefit for prospects.

4. Give the gift of knowledge. Offering a Free Booklet or Free Information is a time-tested offer that continues to work just as it has for decades. Today, that chestnut is often updated as an invitation to download a whitepaper. But you can seriously plus-up that update. Offering a VIP Password to access a download can be very effective. Also, crafting an offer which invites prospects to send for information via a flash drive, essentially creates a “Two-Fer” offer — Free info plus a Free memory stick. And it has the added bonus (for you) of not only literally bringing home your logo, but allowing you to load additional video content or other assets to tune up the sales pitch beyond the requested content.

Box mailing with cell phone embedded in foam
A free cell phone – loaded with call time – was the high-impact offer needed to break though to make a high-end B2B sale.

5. Finding the appropriate free gift. While we do see that standard offers such as gas cards can still be highly effective, they aren’t spot-on for every target audience. To help Meemic grow their business, an organization dedicated to serving teachers, we’ve tested into a broad-use gift card for educators. They can use this card to buy supplies for their budget-strapped classroom — at Staples, Office Max, a teachers supply, or wherever. It performs excellently in market, though we can tell you some stories about testing various face amounts and what really delivers ROI.

For a B2B marketer a few years back, we needed to seriously amp up the offer. For a high ticket, enterprise software solution, we sent VP-level prospects a working cell phone. The phone was loaded with a bank of call time, and an invitation to use 5 of those minutes to call and learn about a new service that could substantially impact their business. Each situation calls for it’s own solution.

To Sum Up — it pays to get creative with your offer. And, of course, to marry whatever offer you use with a deadline date. Phrase it as a “Response deadline,” “Please reply by,” “Response requested before,” “Special Summer Enrollment Period,” or whatever — but DO put a time limit on it.

As you can see from examples above, crafting a Next-Gen response offer isn’t always expensive. In the right circumstances, you can imaginatively replace BOGO, or giving away cash, by merchandising existing services. The possibilities are limited only by the ingenuity of your team and your agency partners. If you ask our Creative Department, they’d say that means the possibilities to boost your response are unlimited! And there’s an offer that’s hard to refuse.

If you’d like to explore some new possibilities, please feel free to contact DMW for some brainstorming!