7 Earmarks of Highest-Response Offers

Legendary marketer Clayton Makepeace writes to reveal seven elements he and his clients credit with sparking millions of dollars in direct-mail sales:

  • Great offers begin, Makepeace states, “with a clear, credible explanation of why you’re about to give away the farm. Your prospects have been conditioned by advertisers, who bombard them with 4,000 and more offers a day, to expect the moon. And any marketer who ignores that fact is self-destructive.

    If Makepeace is right, so-called “layered offers” — you know, what you are selling, plus six free cumquats and three draft choices to be named later — simply may confuse many prospects.

  • Before offering a discount, tell your prospect the specific benefits that make your regular price an amazingly good deal. Then you can state your discounted price without damaging your product’s perceived value.

  • Avoid giving your prospect too many choices. Makepeace urges marketers to offer a low-end price point that will corral the maximum number of customers, plus one or more higher prices in order to increase average dollar sale and return on investment.

    If you ask your prospect to decide among multiple-choice options after that, Makepeace advises, “your chances of losing the sale increases with every second your prospect spends to decide which offer to go for.”

  • Carefully select your payment terms. For customer acquisition mailings, Makepeace writes, “cash with order is king.” However, from time to time he tests a bill-me-later offer. Test one in a list panel and follow the results.

    With customer files, Test offering a three or four payment credit-card option in offers that may intimidate customers.

  • The stronger your guarantee, the better. “Cheaping out is the biggest blunder you can make in a guarantee,” Makepeace urges. Guarantee satisfaction for a year — or a lifetime — and you will find that demands for refunds shrink radically compared to those stemming from 60- or 90-day guarantees.

  • Premiums must not give away the store … must reinforce your brand and your core selling proposition … must enhance the appeal of your highest-price product.

    Makepeace says that he favors timely special reports germane to your product area. Such reports enjoy high perceived value (much higher than a freebie), yet cost little or nothing.

  • Promoting fulfillment. Makepeace says that millions of sales a year are killed because prospects assume it will take too long to receive a purchase.

    If you deliver faster, or do not charge for shipping and order processing, he advises, say so!

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