The Most Essential Part of a Direct Mail Piece – the Offer

‐ April 15, 2014

There are several things that go into an effective direct mail campaign. To be more specific there are 10 elements to creating a mailer that is effective. By effective I mean you getting a return on your investment.

The offer is by far the most important part of your advertisement. The offer is the enticement for people to call you and buy. Without a good offer your prospects will look at your postcard or direct mail piece and yawn. You can look at it this way, if you are fishing the bait you use has a lot to do with they type and quantity of fish you catch.

Underwater scene of a businessman taking the bait

It may seem odd to you to give your customers a price break when you are struggling with your revenue, and it may seem crazier to give them one when people are lining up to pay your regular prices, but there is more than what meets the eye here. For one, what is the purpose of an offer?

There are two purposes to have an offer (special rate, sale, discount, etc.) on your direct mail piece:

  1. To entice new customers to try your product or service.
  2. To reward current customers and ensure future loyalty.

In an effective marketing plan, these are your two main goals. Neglect new prospects, and your business will plateau then drop off. Ignore your current customers, and your business will see high customer turnover, and plateau right before it drops off a cliff!

The following are some tips you can use to reinforce your marketing:

Marketing to New Prospects

The offer you present to prospects will be different from what you offer to your existing customers. The offer you send to new prospects needs to have the following attributes:

  • A High Perceived Value

Know your customers and you can come up with something that would be considered a great value to them.

  • Good Example: FREE Dental Exam & Cleaning
    • It is of value to the prospect, and it gives you the chance to WOW them with your service and professionalism.
    • If offering something for FREE always include the value of it in terms of money.
  • Bad example: 5% Off Cleaning Special
    • The incentive is not valuable enough to inspire action. Nobody jumps at savings in the single digits.
  • Low Cost
  • The prospect needs to feel as if they are getting a real bargain, especially if they’re trying something for the first time. Don’t be afraid to offer a product or service for free. The profit you gain from a lifelong customer far outweighs the price of a free promotion. It helps if you know the lifetime value of a customer. If you don’t know here is an easy calculator that can help you identify what a customer is worth to your business.

    • Good example: FREE!
      • Anything FREE is enticing. But don’t attach many strings or you will lose the customers trust.
    • Bad example: $500 OFF Outdoor Kitchen!
      • You may know that’s a great savings, but if the dollar amount is too high, it will frighten away your prospects.
    • Believability
    • Good example: Buy one pair of jeans and get a second pair for free!
      • It is believable. The customer understands the cost involved and will think it is a great value.
    • Bad example: FREE* Phone!
      • Avoid asterisks. The customer instinctively (and thanks to that asterisk) knows you’re not giving them a phone for nothing, and will not trust you.
  • A Time Limit
    • Your offer must have a time limit. An offer with no expiration date will not pull as well as one with an expiration date.  A time limit ad creates urgency and urgency creates the potential for loss. People do not like to miss out.
  • Offer something that is a high-perceived value — for free! Free is great because it has automatic value for consumers. As long as your prospect feels they are getting a great value, it will work.

    Remember! Price incentives differ in many industries. A free massage from Chiropractor is worth $65, while a free dinner from a restaurant may be worth $15, but both would be successful deals because the offers would be perceived as valuable within their respective industries.

    When Marketing to Your Current Customers

    To tailor an offer to your customers, you need to follow the same basic principles as a new prospect offer, but with an added condition.

    The offer must have:

    • High perceived value
    • Low cost
    • Believability AND,
    • A reward

    You want your customers to know they are getting this deal as an exclusive reward for their loyalty, and because you value their business. You are not attempting to draw them in; you’ve already done that!

    Here are some examples of what a customer reward offer looks like:

    • Chiropractor/Dentist can offer a free adjustment/cleaning on patient’s birthday.
    • Jewelry – a $50 coupon! Kohl’s department store does a very good job of this seeing as they offer “Kohl’s Cash” and coupons for returning customers.
    • Theater or Entertainment Services – Save $10 off your next ticket!
    • Automotive repair a $10 oil change.

    It is important to reward your customers to continue the relationship. Even a small gesture can go a long way. Consider what you can offer and make sure your bottom line isn’t taking a huge hit.

    Follow these simple tips and you’ll see your offer will do the work to bring in more sales and build loyalty! Remember, the idea is to give a little and you’ll get back a lot!

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