B-to-B Insights: Make an Offer

The six key components of effective B-to-B offers

How important is the offer in B-to-B marketing?

Answer: Very. I have seen numerous tests in which a simple change of offer has increased the response rate by 25 percent to 900 percent-dramatically improving return on marketing dollars. The best of these B-to-B offers share six common characteristics, and to lift your response rates, your offers should, too.

1. Be unique. The best offers are fresh. When copywriter Bill Jayme wrote the direct mail package that launched New York magazine, he proposed a sweepstakes. Sweepstakes had long been used to sell magazine subscriptions, but none had ever offered Jayme’s prize: dinner at Gracie Mansion with New York City’s mayor.

Advertising Age premium

Personalization is the key to Advertising Age’s premium, drawing people in with the offer of a unique mug.

Most investment newsletters offer free special reports as premiums. The Sovereign Society, with its newsletter on offshore investing, offered something different: a free Swiss bank account.

Business magazines often offer either discounted subscription rates or standard premiums like special reports, tote bags or calculators. Advertising Age had a successful control where the premium was a ceramic coffee mug. Coffee mugs are nothing special. But this one was imprinted with a mock-up of an Advertising Age cover. If the subscriber was Jan Smith, the headline on the mock issue of Advertising Age was personalized to read: “Jan Smith Wins ‘Marketing Genius’ Award.”

2. Have a high degree of desirability.
An unusual offer only works if it’s something people want.

A publisher was selling a loose-leaf service on how to manage Novell NetWare local area networks. Response rates doubled when a new direct mail promotion offered a disk with free software-a collection of utilities for Novell networks.

The 100 percent increase in orders confirmed that these software programs were tools network administrators wanted. The outer envelope teaser read: “Yours FREE!—5 Powerful Programs to Help You Manage Your Novell NetWare Network More Efficiently and Easily–See Inside for Details on This Special Time-Limited Offer.”

Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter and the author of 80 books, including “How to Write and Sell Simple Information for Fun and Profit.” Find him online at www.bly.com or call (973) 263-0562.
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