30 Offer Ideas for Today’s Consumer

Edited by Hallie Mummert Sometimes, the right offer is really a combination of offers that positions your product or service in the most positive light. Considering that consumer skepticism and apathy continue to increase in magnitude, your offers need to bust through this wall of hesitation and distrust to boost response. Direct response copywriter, designer and consultant Dean Rieck has created a roundup of offers, grouped by function. The following is an excerpt from Rieck’s list. By locating the offer you currently make in your direct mail efforts, you can scan the rest of the offers in the category to see if you’ve

Sometimes, the right offer is really a combination of offers that positions your product or service in the most positive light.

Considering that consumer skepticism and apathy continue to increase in magnitude, your offers need to bust through this wall of hesitation and distrust to boost response.

Direct response copywriter, designer and consultant Dean Rieck has created a roundup of offers, grouped by function. The following is an excerpt from Rieck’s list. By locating the offer you currently make in your direct mail efforts, you can scan the rest of the offers in the category to see if you’ve tested all the possible variations that might rouse your audience’s interest.

And, you even can look at layering complimentary offers from different categories to see if you can add more pizzazz to your next effort.

LOWER-YOUR-RISK OFFERS

1) Double-your-money-back Guarantee: Since most people never make a return, this is a simple way to dramatize both your offer and your guarantee for low-priced items.

2) Long-term Guarantee: Another way to dramatize your offer and guarantee: Make a one-year, multi-year or lifetime guarantee that will stand out in a sea of average 30- and 60-day offers. If you can reasonably expect your product to last, this puts inertia and forgetfulness on your side, because few people will take advantage of—or even remember—your guarantee later on.

3) Guaranteed Buy-back: This is just another way of offering a standard money-back guarantee. You offer to “buy back” the item if your customer is not satisfied. It often is used with collectibles.

4) Guaranteed Acceptance Offer: If people usually go through an application process to use your product, access your service or join your club, you can offer them guaranteed acceptance. You’ll often see this tactic used with credit card or financial products.

5) Limited-time Introductory Offer: This lets prospects try something with little risk before making a greater commitment. For example, “Try 13 weeks of The Wall Street Journal for only $34.” You must track response, though, and be sure your conversions justify the lower price.

6) Yes/Maybe: This is another way of making a low-commitment or no-obligation offer. You’re happy to get the “maybe” response, which could be for a free trial, product information, introductory offer, etc. And if you get some “yes” responses, that’s gravy.

BRIBE OFFERS

7) Free “Keeper” Gift: To encourage prospects to make the decision to try your product or service, offer them a free gift. They may then keep that gift, even if they change their mind later.

8) Free Gift With Payment: This premium encourages payment. You can offer a gift for every paid order or for orders of a minimum value. But you don’t have to offer just one gift; you can offer two, three, four or more, whatever it takes to move the response needle.

9) Stepped Free Gifts: Instead of offering prospects the choice of one or more gifts—which can create indecision and inertia as prospects worry about making the right choice—reward prospects based on the size of the order or donation. The more they order or give, the more gifts they get. Or, you change the quality of the gift to correspond with the order size or donation amount.

10) Two-step Gift: Respondents get a small gift for taking the first step and a bigger gift for the next step. Another variation is

offering a freebie for enrolling in a trial, and then another freebie with purchase.

OFFERS THAT SAY ‘URGENT’

11) Last Chance: This is usually a reminder that you previously made an offer, but that time is running out. If you say “last chance,” mean it.

12) Limited Edition: Great for collectibles, such as art, plates, coins, special book printings, etc.; the idea here is that the item is special in some way and that there are only “x” number available, or there’s a time limit for availability. This offer requires that your creative support this “select” audience approach.

13) Enrollment Period: You establish a “window of opportunity” when prospects might enroll for insurance, home study, business services, etc.

14) Pre-publication Offer: This is a popular offer used by book publishers, especially for expensive reference works. The concept is that you need to plan for your print run, so you’re offering a special deal where you will reserve copies for customers ahead of time. Customers are guaranteed to get a copy and save money, usually 10 percent to 15 percent less than what late-comers will pay.

15) Price Increase Announcement: If prices are going up for your product or service, you can announce it ahead of time so customers can take advantage of the old prices one last time or stock up. Do not bluff on this offer; your regular customers will catch you in the lie.

16) Charter Membership: Here, you offer the prospect a chance to be one of the first to subscribe to a new publication or join a club or organization. Generally, you offer a special introductory price, gift or other incentive just for these ground-floor customers.

REDUCED-PRICE OFFERS

17) Dollars Off: You offer a certificate or coupon with a dollar value that can be redeemed toward a purchase. Test carefully with this offer component, because a free gift of equal value usually works better.

18) Refunds and Rebates: With a refund, you might ask for a $3 payment to receive a copy of your catalog, but then send a $3 discount certificate to be used on the first order. With a rebate, you offer a delayed discount; when the customer makes a purchase, you respond with a check or coupon for the value of the item or service.

19) Sales: A seasonal sale is a trusty standby to raise volume. A “reason why” sale is similar, but gives some explanation for lowering prices; some examples include overstocks, inventory reduction and a business anniversary.

Just plain “customer appreciation” works, as does a “friends and family” sale.

20) Introductory Price: This is a way to allow people to try something at a reduced cost for a short period of time. You can use this offer to get new customers, though it may annoy loyal customers who might feel they should get the best price.

21) Relationship Discount: The opposite of the introductory price, the relationship discount leverages the customer connection. The goal here is to reward loyal customers or reenergize recently lapsed customers, not to get new customers.

22) Quantity Discount: The more items the customer orders, the better the deal you offer. If your customer orders five books, you provide a 5-percent discount. Or, you offer a lower per-issue price for a two-year subscription than for a one-year term.

23) Group Discount: This is a special discount exclusive to a type of profession, industry, club, etc. For example, an investment magazine can offer a “professional discount” for accountants.

24) Step-up Discount: This effort is like the quantity discount, but based on the amount ordered. For example, you might offer a 5-percent discount on orders that exceed $50, a 10-percent discount on orders of $100 or more and a 15-percent discount on orders that equal or exceed $250.

25) Early-bird Discount: This is a good way to encourage more orders and fast response. Make sure the discount is a real discount; don’t just raise the prices for those who order later.

26) Price Matching: If you compete on price, you might offer to match any competitor’s price. The idea is to assure prospects that you offer low prices.

27) Trade-in Offer: Here, you offer dollars off when a customer trades in a previous model or version and buys a new item. The trade-in can be your own brand or a competitor’s.

To see the full list of offers, visit www.directcreative.com. Dean Rieck can be reached at deanrieck@directcreative.com.

3 Extra-effort Offers

Sometimes your offers have to go the extra mile to win over customers and keep them coming back. Pull out the stops with the following three service-based offers that show customers you really want their business.

28) Gift Shipment: If your product(s) can be sent as gifts, provide customers with a special promotion and order form before the holiday season. Then, keep each customer’s list of gift recipients in your database so you can generate a preprinted list annually. Not only does this help the customer

remember who he gave gifts to the year before, but it helps you retain annual gift orders.

29) Rush Shipping: While picking up the regular shipping charges or upgrading a customer one shipping class for the same price as regular delivery are things you might do to entice sales from new customers, these offers are best used to right a mistake. Rush shipping also fits well with products that people might want quickly. Here, try offering to ship an item overnight or via express mail.

30) Buy Now, Ship Later: Another value-added service for gift-buyers, this offer allows customers to buy Christmas or Hanukkah gifts in advance, and then have them held at your warehouse for shipment until closer to the holiday. When paired with a minimum order dollar value, this is a great tactic to boost your average order value.

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