Direct Mail: Energize Your Offer
The free trial is popular as a magazine offer, but you can configure it for just about anything: electronics, clubs, Web sites, books, software, office equipment, insurance, financial services, you name it. I have even tied it to a guarantee for a child sponsorship charity.
Take a Hard Look at Your Guarantee
In direct marketing, people usually cannot see, hear, touch, taste or smell your product or service before they buy it. This creates perceived risk, which can lead to inertia. A guarantee helps lower this perceived risk.
To craft a strong guarantee, include these four elements:
1. Assure your customer of the quality of your product.
2. Spell out your terms and conditions clearly.
3. Specify a generous time period for evaluation.
4. State what you will do if the customer is dissatisfied.
We provide the finest widgets in the world. If you are not fully satisfied for any reason, just return your widget within 60 days for a full refund of your purchase price.
Here’s a classic guarantee from the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog back in 1902:
We accept your order and your money, guaranteeing the goods to reach you in due time and in perfect condition, and if they are not perfectly satisfactory to you when received, you can return them to us at our expense of freight or express charges both ways and we will immediately return your money.
Test Into New Offers Carefully
The rules for testing offers are the same as the rules for testing anything else. First, you should do proper control testing. Change only your offer, and test your direct mail piece or ad head-to-head with the control. Then back-test to confirm the results.
Also, consider the big picture. A new offer may create more response action up front, but what about your ROI? What is your cost per customer? How about lifetime value? The better offer is not the one that generates the most response, but the one that generates the best customers.