After the list, the offer is the most important element of a direct marketing campaign. In the first part of a two-part post, here are the basics of creating a great direct marketing offer.
What the Offer is About
The offer is the proposition you make to the prospect in your direct mail or e-marketing promotion, the “deal” you’re proposing if the prospect says “yes.”
The offer has one purpose: To generate a response. A great offer engages the prospect with its value and its relevance to the prospect’s needs. A really great offer delivers a higher return on your direct marketing investment by producing higher sales, more leads, or more traffic at lower cost.
Types of Offers
The type of offer you make depends on the goals of your direct marketing campaign. Typically, direct marketers want respondents to take one or more of the following actions:
- Direct sales: Place an order for a product or service;
- Lead generation: Raise their hands and indicate their interest in a potential purchase;
- Traffic generation: Come into a retail store or dealership to make a potential purchase.
“Soft” v. “Hard” Offers
Offers can be viewed on a continuum that ranges from “soft” to “hard” based on the level of commitment the prospect is asked to make.
A soft offer requires low commitment on the part of the prospect. An example is a free gift for responding with few strings attached. A soft offer usually produces a higher response rate, but the sales conversion rate – the number of respondents who actually become buyers – is often much lower because many of the respondents weren’t serious prospects.
A soft offer can be a smart marketing strategy if you’re looking to build a prospect database for future direct marketing or start a dialogue about your products and services with a new group of prospects.
Harder offers ask for a bigger commitment from the prospect, such as agreeing to meet with a sales representative. Hard offers tend to produce lower response, but those who do respond to a hard offer are more likely to be ready, willing, and able to buy. Thus, a hard offer can be a smart marketing strategy if you want to focus the resources of your sales team on the most serious prospects.
Coming in my next post: Part 2: What to offer to generate higher response from your next direct marketing campaign