17 offers to reduce price and increase urgency

direct response offerspart 2 of a 4-part series

Last time, we established that there are three things you must do to create effective direct response advertising:

  1. Make an offer.
  2. Provide sufficient information to allow your prospect to accept your offer.
  3. Provide an easy means of responding to your offer.

We kicked off by listing a few classic offers and offers that reduce perceived risk.

We’ll continue by looking at offers that reduce the price and increase the urgency.

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Merry Christmas from the Legal Department

Santa Clause bustedIn my line of work, I have to deal with lawyers quite a bit. And I suppose they’re necessary.

But they’re really an uptight bunch. And sometimes they just go too far.

Take this message from the legal department of one of my clients, for example …

***

Whereas, on or about the penultimate night to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter “the House”) a general dearth of Daily Living Activities by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to, noxious vermin.

A variety of hosiery, e.g., stocking, socks, etc., had been affixed in a workmanlike manner by and about the chimney upon the hope and/or belief that St. Nick a.k.a. St. Nicholas a.k.a. Santa Claus (hereinafter “Claus”) would arrive at sometime thereafter.

The minor residents of the aforementioned House were located in their individual beds and were experiencing involuntary nocturnal hallucinations, wherein visions of confectionery treats, including, but not limited to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear.

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14 offers to raise response and lower risk

direct response offerspart 1 of a 4-part series

There are three things you must do in order to create effective direct response advertising:

  1. Make an offer.
  2. Provide sufficient information to allow your prospect to accept your offer.
  3. Provide an easy means of responding to your offer.

One way or another, everything hinges on your offer.

Whole books could (and should) be written about offers and offer strategy, but I’ll forgo erudite lectures here and just give you a bare bones and practical list of offers that have proven to be winners over the years.

Just remember that most good offers are really combinations of two or more individual offers, so all of these are mix and match.

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B2B vs. consumer marketing: 14 selling tips

business to business selling tipsIn a previous post, we looked at 5 differences between business buyers and ordinary consumers.

And I suggested that perhaps these differences are not such big differences after all.

Now let’s move on with some practical tips for how to create better B2B selling messages. Then we’ll again discuss whether selling to the business market is as different as some people suggest.

1. Turn your features into bottom-line benefits. Show how your gizmo will turn a good business into a better business with money or time saved, greater profits, more competitiveness, higher efficiency, etc. And whenever possible, be specific. Instead of saying, “The Gizmo Widget can save you money,” say, “In the first year, the Gizmo Widget can cut printing costs for the average business by $23,687.” Dig for specifics in every benefit you offer.

2. Target benefits for different levels. The motivations of users, influencers, buyers, and decision-makers are all different. Let’s say you’re selling a seminar on how to increase the efficiency of the office. The president of the company may want to increase overall productivity. A department head may want ideas for dealing with difficult employees. A secretary may want to learn how to stand out and get promoted. Know who you’re talking to and speak to that person’s needs. If you can’t do it in one message, do it in several different ones.

3. List all the features. Include product specifications, prices, add-ons, options, future compatibility, and all the details. Often the final decision comes down to tiny differences between you and your competitor. And you can give yourself an edge by listing features your competitor simply doesn’t talk about.

4. Send a “keeper.” Depending on the buying cycle of your typical customer, it could be months or years before a promotion pays off. So if your brochure, fact kit, sample, or other information is easy to file away for future reference, it will continue to sell until your prospect is ready to act. An important caveat: Don’t use long buying cycles as an excuse to avoid making a strong, urgent offer with a clear call to action.

5. Make your mail look important and personal. This can help you get past secretaries and the mailroom. Often, plain outer envelopes are best. For fulfillment, put “Here is the information you requested” or something similar on the outside. Invitation formats also work. Product samples, a message to the secretary with benefits for her or him, and dimensional packages have proved successful for many businesses.

6. Mail to different job titles. You can use versioned copy, each version addressing the concerns of a different level within a company. You can encourage pass-alongs of one complete piece, such as a brochure or fact kit. Or you can address your piece to two or three people to guarantee that at least one person will read it.

7. Lead with your offer. You can get away with a certain degree of creative indulgence in consumer marketing, but with few exceptions, business selling should be the model of directness. Create a strong offer and build your message around it. Make it clear, simple, and to-the-point.

8. Use testimonials and success stories. They can have a profound effect on the risk-averse business buyer. Testimonials show that others trust and use your products and services, so they are therefore less risky. Success stories can accomplish the same thing, but with the added benefit of dramatizing and proving your promises.

9. Feature your guarantee. A solid guarantee reduces the perceived feelings of risk and makes it easier for you to capture that first sale. It helps you build long-term trust and almost always increases response.

10. Generate leads first to qualify prospects. Especially when you have a product or service that requires a significant investment of time and resources, or which is complex or expensive. A good lead program will help your sales team identify the best prospects faster and cut their per customer costs. If you don’t have a sales force, you can still use the same technique in the form of a two-step (or more) direct sell – the first ad or mail piece gets an inquiry and the follow-up asks for the order.

11. Use more letters. They are your sales people in the mail, your personal contact. Often you don’t even need brochures. One simple and nearly foolproof technique I often use for my clients is to create a 1 or 2-page letter, mailed in a business envelope with a reply card or fax-back sheet and maybe a toll-free number. With a simple package like this you can generate inquiries for free information, sales calls, demonstrations, seminars, anything. Letters are personal, cheap, fast, flexible, and easy to produce. And they work.

12. Try self-mailers. They encourage pass-alongs to decision makers. They’re easier and more self-contained than multi-piece mailers, although not as personal. Self-mailers are a way to dramatically cut costs if you’re used to mailing larger packages or more elaborate brochures. Sometimes, their economy can outperform everything else, including personal letters.

13. Nix the jargon. There is language in every field you should tune into, including buzzwords, business concepts, and hot industry topics. However, there’s a difference between speaking someone’s language and hiding behind it. Clear communication works best in every situation. Say what you have to say in simple, straightforward prose.

14. Make responding easy. Provide a toll-free number or business reply card. Explain your billing and shipping policies. Allow fax-back or Internet orders. Do anything that makes it easy for someone to say, “yes” to your offer. Inertia is one of your worst enemies, and you have to combat it actively.

Is B2B really all that different from consumer selling?

Now take a second look at those 14 hints. Anything sound familiar? Let’s see …

When you take a hard look at the details, all those dreaded differences just evaporate. From the standpoint of creating sales messages, B2B just isn’t that much different from consumer marketing.

It’s a mistake to think that you can take a purely consumer approach to the business market. But it’s a greater mistake to think that the business market is a world unto itself and that the people in it stop being human when they clock in at work.

Never forget that business is business. But it’s more important to remember that people are people. Even when they’re on-the-job.

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