Creating Compelling Direct Mail Offers

In direct mail marketing, your offer – what recipients receive when they reply to your mailing – is the key to generating a prompt response and timely sales. Other than mailing-list selection, nothing has a greater impact on the success of a direct-mail effort than a simple, specific, easy-to-obtain offer.

While offers can take many forms (free gift, discount, risk-free trial, free demo) relevancy is critical to success. For example, a retailer aiming to attract customers can offer a 20% discount and attract customers. However, business-to-business marketers, who set their sights on decision makers, usually focus offers on problem solving, increasing efficiency and improving the bottom line. (“If you complete the enclosed form and mail it today, we’ll let you try our money-saving software for 30 days, free, without risk or obligation.”)

After ensuring that your offer is relevant – targeted to your audience’s profile and addressing their needs – there are many techniques to help you craft a compelling offer:

• Be precise and concrete. “Return the enclosed card to learn how you can save $395 on your next order” is specific and tangible; “Call for more information” is fuzzy, it is not an offer.

• Emphasize the positive. “You can save $500 a year on your electric bill” is a more positive approach than, “You’re paying too much for electricity.”

• Use dollar figures rather than percentages. “Get a $25 discount” makes a much stronger argument than “Save 10%.”

• Highlight a win-win guarantee. “We’ll give you your money back, if our widget doesn’t meet your expectations within 30 days” is a powerful promise that also builds trust in your company and speaks to your integrity.

• Set a deadline. “If you return this form within the next two weeks, you’ll get $100 off your order” can get your mailing placed on a calendar rather than have it disappear among the debris shoved between the tape dispenser and the stapler.

• Offer value. “Respond to our survey and we’ll send you a $100 gift certificate” has real perceived value to a potential customer.

• Make it useful. “Send in the attached card and receive a free pocket calculator” is more meaningful than “a free bag of dust from Jupiter”.

• Make it easy to respond. Limit your conditions of purchase and create a clear, simple and short order form or reply mechanism. Provide both a write-in and telephone option, and position your contact information – phone number, fax, website address – prominently.

Remember, direct-mail marketing is interactive; your immediate goal is to get a response to your mailing. If your recipient reads your beautiful brochure, but says, “That’s interesting,” and sets it aside, you have not met your goal. Your offer must be a strong motivator that stimulates your recipient to take action now and show an interest in your product or service. And, that is the bottom line in direct marketing.