When looking at the loads of mail you get, including e-mail, does it all blend together? Does anything ever jump out at you and say "Open Me!"? In the world of marketing, getting opened is a primary objective.
Getting attention is the number-one goal of any marketing campaign. One of the ways to get this necessary attention is to offer something of value to your target prospect. The offer can be in the form of an incentive to reply for more information, an incentive to buy something, or something of value to continue a relationship and ongoing dialogue.
The goal of an offer is to get a response. If you get a response from your prospect you know that your mail was sorted out of the pack and achieved its primary objective. A response indicates their interest in you or your offer and also indicates that they're willing to learn more or even do business with you at that point.
Most businesses and professionals love to send out mail that just talks about them: how many degrees and certifications they have, company history, size of equipment or staff, accomplishments and so on. In the world of direct marketing this fits right into the "boring" category; if not boring, then something that's immediately discarded without any consideration of a response. It immediately puts the prospect in the position of evaluating whether they want to spend time on what you have to say. This approach triggers resistance.
The alternative--and the thing that'll make your mail stand out--is presenting an offer. An offer can be information or time-based, which eliminates a true cash outlay for something of value for your prospect. It can be a free report, a free consultation, a list, an article, a sample or free trial. You can now see how this could be of interest to a client or prospect and how it could stand out from generic mail talking only about the company and not enough about the prospect.
Your target audience members are more apt to spend time with your material if they're getting something of value in return.
Make sure your offer is value-oriented. I saw one the other day that offered $10 off of an automobile service appointment at a car dealer. I realize that $10 is $10, but this amount of money off of a $250-$500 service job isn't going to automatically entice me to take advantage of the offer. A free 21-point inspection and free loaner car might have done the trick. Those would be valuable to me.
I even hesitated to mention free consultation above. While that's valuable, some prospects will view that as a glorified sales call. If you use this approach, have a purpose other than selling with it. For instance, maybe you have a report that explains the results of a recent survey you did that would interest your prospect that you could review during a "free consultation." I'm a big fan of audits. Audits uncover problems that you can offer solutions for. If you're selling office supplies, offer to do an office supply usage audit. If you sell insurance, offer to do an asset/liability audit.
Here's a list of offers you can use (from the Ultimate Guide to Direct Marketing, available at Entrepreneur Press):
- Free tele-seminar
- Paid tele-seminar
- Free public seminar
- Paid public seminar
- Meet-and-greet session
- Free special report
- Free CD audio
- Free consultation
- Free product samples
- Bundled products for discount
- Double bundle
- Free gifts
- Top 10 list
The whole world of direct marketing boils down to two activities: making an offer and getting a response. The more valuable your offer is and the more targeted it is the higher the probability of getting a response. A response is the start of a relationship, and one that can be marketed to on an ongoing basis.