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Better Business Idea #16

How To Use An Irresistible Offer To Improve Response

© 1998 by Michael C. Gray

August 28, 1998


I am constantly amazed when I see advertising that doesn't include an offer of some type. It's like there is a giant hole for this missing key element.

For most businesses, the purpose of an advertisement should be to elicit a response of some type. If the advertisement generates a response, it is helping the business grow by eventually generating sales. Also, generating a response provides a means for measuring the effectiveness of the ad and testing alternative headlines, pricing, and offers to improve response.

An offer gives the reader a reason to respond.

There are lots of alternative offers that can be used in different situations.

For example, if you are seeking to identify qualified prospective customers for your product or service for follow up marketing, offer a free report on a subject of interest to a prospective customer. An interior designer might offer a free report on how to plan the layout of furniture in your home. Another idea is to offer a consumer guide. A divorce attorney could offer a book on how to choose a good divorce attorney.

For an ad promoting the actual sale of a product or service, you might try packaging/ bundling, bonuses or premiums.

Packaging is similar to the "value meal" at MacDonalds or Burger King. You provide the convenience to the customer of including the items they would customarily buy together at a reduced price. A lumber yard might offer a "fence building kit," including plans, lumber, concrete, hammer, nails, and rental of an auger machine. A health club might offer a weight reduction and conditioning package, including a one-year membership, nutrition consulting, a one-year supply of nutrition supplements, and three months of personal training.

Bonuses are additional products you provide that are offered as incentives. They are similar to packaging, but with a different presentation. For example, "When we handle your wedding photography, we will provide 50 additional wallet copies of your favorite photo at no additional charge." Another type of bonus for a service business is to give a coupon for free or discounted services.

A premium is a "free gift" incentive that may or may not be a regular product of your business. For example, you give a Swiss Army knife for a test drive of a car. In some cases, you may "sell" the desirability of the premium and "throw in" your product. Sports Illustrated sells "sports blooper" videotapes and throws in a magazine subscription.

Using these ideas, build the value of your offer so it is irresistible to the buyer. He or she would feel crazy to refuse!

Obviously, you have to temper your offer with profitability. But sometimes you can build value with little cost.

Also, always bear in mind the cost of the promotion in light of the lifetime value of a customer. In many cases, the initial sale is a net loss after selling costs. But the loss is merely an investment in a long-term, very profitable relationship.

Be sure to include an irresistible offer in every marketing effort, and tell us about your successes!

For new articles about how to improve your business, subscribe to our newsletter, Michael Gray, CPA's Tax & Business Insight!

How to use an irresistable offer to improve your ad response.


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Michael Gray, CPA
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