Make Them an Offer They Can't Refuse
The Godfather knew how to get what he wanted. If you didn't accept his offer you'd wake up with a horse's head in your bed.
Though as a copywriter I do everything possible to motivate prospects, sadly, I don't have the Don's persuasive incentives at my disposal.
Nope. All I have to offer are white papers, information kits, free downloads, webinars and the like.
So what's a copywriter to do? The answer is, think creatively about what offers are available, and then work hard to find the most motivating way to present them.
Let me give you an example. A while ago, my copy of Forbes arrived in the mail. I shook out the four blow-in cards (those annoying little cards that tumble out of magazines) and saw that Forbes was running a subscription test.
All four cards offered the exact same terms but were expressed very differently. Below, you will find my summary of the offers. (I have stripped out all the selling language so you could look at the offer in its purest form.)
NOTE: If you do the math and compare offers, they won't be the same. That's because Forbes is playing with different subscription terms, which muddies the waters. However, all rates DO work out identically: $59.95 for a one-year sub; $79.95 for a two-year sub. Here are the offers:
Cover Price: $4.99
YOUR Price: $1.54
Cover Price: $129.74
Your 1YR Cost: $59.95
You Save: $69.79
It's like getting 14 Issues Free
Which offer did best? I have no idea, although if I were a betting man, I would vote for "Save 53%!" The beauty of the four-way test, of course, is that it doesn't depend on anyone's guess. The marketplace provides the definitive answer and all Forbes has to do is roll out the test winner.
This begs the important question, what should YOU test?
Here are three significant variables, other than the phrasing of your offer, that you might want to consider testing:
1. The offer itself
As Bob Stone, the dean of the direct response business put it, "The propositions you make to customers can mean the difference between success or failure. Depending on the offer, differences in response of 25, 50, 100 percent and more are commonplace."
2. Your list
Rather than mail to everyone on a single list, rent the minimum number of names on a few lists and test an identical package with each one. Once you've selected the winner, you can roll out in force.
3. Your media buys
How do you know which publications are exactly right for your product or service if you don't give them a try? Remember, you can always test a small-space ad in several publications as a measurement tool. After you determine the magazines you want to be in, you can go full page, full blast.
Also, don't forget to experiment with different ad sizes. Starch INRA Hooper testing proved that one-third page ads can actually score higher than their half-page counterparts.
The takeaway message this month? It doesn't always make sense to "go with your gut" and make key business decisions based on instinct. If you possibly can, do some testing first and then make them an offer they can't refuse.
Ivan Levison is a freelance direct response copywriter who works for companies like Bank of America, Fireman's Fund, Intel and Microsoft. Levison writes direct mail, emails and Web copy. For a free subscription to his monthly email newsletter for marketers, and a free copy of his report, "101 Ways to Double Your Response Rates!", visit www.levison.com.