To generate maximum orders or inquiries from any advertisement, you need a well-planned, well-executed reply device.
Judging from many of the ads we see, it is easy—too easy—for advertisers to slip up on the details of constructing effective coupons or other response vehicles. The following checklist may help:
Cue the response you want
Art directors tend to shy away from prominent couponing. It is easy to see why: They are trained to view advertisements as single design units, and coupons by definition add a second element to any design. However, your sales prospects are not mind-readers. You need to cue them to do what you want them to do by using a bold, clear reply mechanism. Not very artsy— but highly effective.
Make replies easy
Every reply device should look and be easy for your prospect to use. Print your mailing address at the end of your body copy, then repeat it in your coupon. Add a phone number—preferably a toll-free one. And don’t forget to include your e-mail address.
Repeat your offer—and your guarantee
Briefly, restate your offer in your reply form. And cover your bets by repeating your guarantee. If you will refund 100% of payment in case of dissatisfaction, say so. If you will not repay shipping charges, make that clear also. Build trust.
Use more than one reply device
If your space or mail advertising includes a printed reply coupon, test an added postpaid reply card. You may be agreeably surprised by what it does for your responses, and your bottom line. Also, test including an extra copy of your advertisement, including your reply device, with your fulfillment materials. It can generate “over the transom” sales, and produce names and addresses you can use to your advantage in the future.
As a rule, if it is possible for readers to misunderstand your offer, they will. So show your advertising—especially your reply device—around the office (not to copywriters, art directors, and other marketing professionals) before you go to print. You may be amazed at the mistakes you can avoid!
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