13 offers to improve terms and provide services and bribes

direct response offerspart 3 of a 4-part series

In this series, we’re looking at offers.

Back in part one, we listed 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.

Then we looked at 14 offers to raise response and lower risk and 17 offers to reduce price and increase urgency.

Now we’ll consider 13 offers that improve terms and provide services and bribes.

And off we go.

Improving Terms

A good offer will always improve your selling results. But you can also improve an existing offer by simply adjusting the way your customer pays or orders.

Bill Me Later — This gives you some of the promotional power of a free trial offer but with a stronger sense of obligation. It appeals to the modern consumer who has been trained to postpone payment until the last possible moment. It can double response over a straight cash upfront offer.

Installments — This offer takes a larger price and divides it into a set number of smaller monthly payments, usually with no interest. This makes a high price less painful. It’s most effective when you highlight the installment amount and de-emphasize the total price.

Positive Option — This is the reverse of a negative option. Instead of shipping or billing automatically after a trial period, you offer a trial period and require action by the customer for a purchase. Response will be lower than for a negative option, but overall customer quality is often better.

Reservation Option — You offer to reserve or set aside an item that soon will be announced to the general public and which may sell out. You may also give a special price or a premium as a reward for responding by a certain date. It’s similar to the pre-publication offer but with more urgency.

Offering Services

These are ways to add a little extra convenience to your offer. The first, free shipping, is currently one of the most popular offers on the Internet.

Free Shipping — People are used to paying extra for shipping and consider it a necessary evil. But you can offer it free as an unexpected and inexpensive incentive.

Gift Shipment Service — A customer sends you a gift list, and you send the gifts directly to everyone on the list for free or for a nominal charge. This offers your customer convenience and offers you lots of simultaneous orders.

Rush Shipping Service — You promise to ship an item overnight or within a shorter time period than normal shipping. As with gift shipping, you can offer this for free or for a small additional charge to cover the extra cost of FedEx, UPS, or other service.

Offering Bribes

Sometimes an extra offer on top of your offer helps to push people off the fence and take action. Some of these are pretty sophisticated, but can be effective.

Free Keeper Gift — This encourages people to make the decision to try your product or service. You offer a gift and they can keep it even if they change their minds later on.

Free Gift with Payment — This encourages prompt payment, increases cash flow, and helps reduce no-pays. You can offer a gift for every paid order or for orders of a minimum value. You can offer one gift or multiple gifts.

Choice of Free Gifts — Here, you offer a choice between two or more gifts. While this seems very appealing, it often does not work as well as offering a single gift, since the choice may create indecision and inertia.

Stepped Free Gifts — You reward customers based on the size of their orders. The more they order, the more gifts they get or the higher the gift quality.

Two-Step Gift — The customer gets a small gift for a first step and a bigger gift for the next step. For example, you can offer a freebie for trying your product then another freebie for actually buying it.

Cumulative Incentives — This is a reward for customer loyalty, such as redeemable “points” for buying items or every 13th order free. This works best when the customer can see the value increasing. For example, you can provide a running total of points earned on each billing statement or order form.

In our final installment, we’ll look at offers that increase profits and offers that generate inquiries.

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