Boost response by positioning your offer

In direct marketing, everything is built around offers. In fact, to create a true direct response ad in any medium, you must do 3 specific things:

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

So, in any direct mail piece or ad, the offer is the heart of the message. But while a rose may be a rose, an offer is not an offer.

An offer is more than a fixed monetary exchange. A 50% discount is not the same as “buy one widget, get the second widget free.” In dollar terms, these are identical. But how you position this deal creates different perceptions and different response rates.

Offer positioning is a vital step in the copywriting process. And businesses should be open to suggestions for more powerful ways to position offers.

Let’s look at an example.

Imagine you have a magazine subscription offer. The magazine sells for $3 an issue and 12 monthly issues are $36. The publisher wants to test a price reduction of 50%. Here are a few ways you can position this offer:

This is more than wordsmithing. Buyers perceive each of these offer positions differently, each with a unique perceived value.

And what’s the value of testing different ways to position your offer? Better response. For example, most tests show that a “buy one get one free” offer will beat a “half off offer.” Why? Greater perceived value. Getting something free carries more psychological weight than saving money, even when the monetary value is identical. “Free” is easier to understand and more tangible that a percentage savings, which is an intellectual mathematical concept.

The takeaway? Don’t accept your offer at face value. Try different ways to position the offer to make it feel more valuable.

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3 Responses to “Boost response by positioning your offer”

  1. Gerold Braun on September 10th, 2008 8:23 am

    there is another plus in “buy one get one free” besides the one you mentioned, Dean. The price is not cut in half for one piece.

  2. Dean Rieck on September 10th, 2008 11:35 am

    Gerold: Good point. A buy one get one free offer preserves the perceived value of the item. Discounts can have a long-term detrimental effect on the perceived value. But my overall point was to test different offer positions. You never know what’s best until you test.

  3. Ron Meledandri - Sentra Business Solutions on September 12th, 2008 9:30 pm

    As the saying goes …. “perception is reality.” People will always buy or choose perceived value. What business people must remember is that is is not how WE perceive the value but how our CUSTOMER perceives it.

    Very Good Posting.

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