It may seem counterintuitive to give your customers a price break when you are struggling with your revenue, and it may seem crazier to give them one when they are lining up to pay your normal rates, but there is more to it than meets the eye. Allow me to explain...
There are two major functions that an offer (special rate, sale, discount, etc.) plays in your marketing campaign:
• Enticing new customers to try your product or service.
• Rewarding current customers and ensuring future loyalty.
In a successful marketing plan, these are your two main goals. Neglect new prospects and your business will plateau. Ignore your current customers and your business will see high customer turnover, and plateau - right before it drops off a cliff! Here are some tips you can use to reinforce your marketing.
Marketing to New Prospects
The offer you present to prospects will be different from what you offer to your customers. It needs to have the following attributes:
Do your homework. Come up with something that would be considered a great value in your industry.
Good Example: FREE Xbox 360 with braces!
It is of high value to the prospect, and it gives you the chance to WOW them with your service and professionalism.
Bad example: 10% OFF Haircut & Style
The incentive is not valuable enough to inspire action. Nobody jumps at savings in the single digits.
The prospect needs to feel as if they are getting a steal, especially if they're trying something for the first time. Don't be afraid to offer a product or service for free. The profit you gain from a lifelong customer far outweighs the price of a free promotion.
Good example: FREE!
Anything FREE is enticing. But don't attach many strings or you will lose the customers' trust.
Bad example: $400 OFF an Outdoor Kitchen!
You may know that's a great savings, but if the dollar amount is too high, it will frighten away your prospects.
Good example: Buy one sweater, get a second one free!
It is believable. The customer understands the cost involved and will think it is a great value.
Bad example: FREE* Phone!
The customer instinctively (thanks to that asterisk) knows you're not giving them a phone for nothing and will not trust you.
Our results manger tracks successful offers based on industry.
Here are a few examples that were great successes for my clients:
- Dental - FREE Teeth Whitening
- Chiropractic - FREE Massage with X-rays if necessary ($260 value)
- Landscaping - First Two Lawn Cuts FREE
- Restaurant - Celebrate your anniversary with a FREE dinner on us!
These were successful for our clients because they offered something that had a high perceived value - for free! Free is great because it has automatic value for consumers. But as long as your prospect feels they are getting a great value, it will work.
Remember: price differs in many industries. A free massage at Benson Chiropractic is worth $260, while a free dinner at The Grotto restaurant may be worth $15, but both were successful deals because the offer was valuable within their respective industries.
Marketing to Current Customers
To tailor an offer to your customers, you need to follow the same basic principles as a new prospects offer, but with an added condition.
The offer must have:
- High value
- Low cost
- Believability AND
- A reward
Your customers need to know they are getting this deal as an exclusive reward for their loyalty and because you value their business. This is not an attempt to draw them in - you've already done that!
Here are some examples of what reward offers look like:
- Dental - FREE cleaning on the anniversary of your first visit!
- Jewelry - A "secret sale" scratch-off coupon to customers who spent over $100 in a month!
- Skin Care - $100 off next purchase and a FREE sample product!
- Theater or Entertainment Services - Save $10 off your next ticket!
Whatever your offer may be, let me stress that the offer is incredibly important and can - along with other things - make or break your results. I also feel I must impart that this has been my personal nemesis at my own company. Honestly, I have yet to find the end-all offer to bring in hordes of qualified leads. Don't get me wrong; we're doing great and pretty much have our marketing down to a science, but that end-all enticing offer is still eluding me!
However, I have seen some incredible offers that pull brilliantly for the marketer.
One comes to mind in particular. This client is a credit union. I don't think they thought of what they did as "an offer" separate from any other aspect of their card, but they gave such an incredible rate on a CD that had I, myself, received their postcard I would have transferred my savings over, too!
After reviewing their results and their ROI (Return On Investment), it became very clear to me just how important the "offer" actually is. I'll share an email one of my sales reps received, but we also cover them in our case studies chapter where you can see their design:
Rob, just received one of your marketing pieces in my email, and noticed this line from it: 'A one shot in the dark postcard mailing is not going to change your business, your bottom line, your life or your anything.'
As a long-time professional marketer, I would generally agree with that. However, I just thought I would share the results of the last postcard job you did for us. You may or may not recall doing the blue castle-in-the-clouds postcard for Texoma Community Credit Union back in April-May. It advertised some great CD rates, and said, 'Your big dreams deserve a big rate.'
You printed 5,000 for us, 2,400 of which you mailed for us to a list of homeowner-investors that we purchased from Database USA. We mailed an additional 1,000 to our top depositors, and handed the rest out in our two credit union lobbies. We were extremely pleased with the quality of the paper and printing you did for us.
Our initial goal was to raise $1 million in CD deposits in May. During the month of May, the postcard brought in $5.3 million in CD deposits, surpassing our goal by well over 400%. Needless to say, we were quite pleased!
Our ROI calculations came out quite nice: We spent $610 on printing and $670 on postage, for a total of $1,280. We generated 198 CDs, totaling $5.31 million, with the average CD balance of $26,816. We use the "spread" between the interest we earn (on auto loans, for example) and the interest we pay out on CDs to calculate our ROI. In this case, the business your postcard brought in generates $9,336 per month in net income to the credit union, which gave us a break-even point of just 4 days, and a 12-month ROI of 8,652%.
Not bad for a one-time postcard mail-out! By the way, I have entered this postcard (and the latest brochure you printed for us) in this year's Texas Credit Union League marketing competition. I'll let you know (in October) if we win!
Just thought you might want to hear a success story. Feel free to share this as appropriate.
Sincerely, Mike Segalof, Marketing Director, Texoma Community Credit Union.
Needless to say, when this was forwarded to me I knew I had to include it in this manual. We called him immediately to verify the data - I mean, 8,652% ROI may have been a typo! But it wasn't. Mike came up with a great design and headline that caused the recipients to READ the card. If he hadn't, that offer would not have been looked at and the card would have most likely wound up in the trash. So, you see, all the variables in designing your postcard are important. But to date, these results outweigh any others I have ever come across.
Loss Leader as an Offer
During the holidays we often hear how much more important it is to give than to receive. In business, sometimes it's important to give so you can receive. That's where a loss leader comes in.
A loss leader is when a store sells one product at a loss in order to bring customers into the store KNOWING they'll spend on other items where they can make a profit. For example, Office Depot will advertise reams of copy paper for $1.99 per ream. But when the small business owner arrives to purchase it, he/she remembers to buy pens, calculators and oh yeah, a better fax machine.
This is a great idea and generates big results for the big dogs in retail. But how can it work for you? See if there is any way you can incorporate this into your postcard offer. Maybe there is a product that's not moving very well. If you offer to discount it, you can not only bring customers to your storefront or website, but you can also draw them in to make bigger purchases as well.
Seriously, give it some thought. See what you can come up with. Survey your customers to see if it would make them come in and don't forget to put this very important ingredient into the mix when designing your postcard.
The Two Rules of Using Offers to Improve Your Response
- Rule # 1 - REWARD those who buy now.
- Rule # 2 - PENALIZE those who don't.
How? Satisfy these two rules with a "very special offer" that a.) is attractive and b.) has a time element attached to it. Try something like this: "Order your new lawnmower NOW and we'll give you a FREE edger. Offer only good until the end of May."
This offer is attractive because you get a free edger; it has a time element because there's a strict cut-off date: the last day of May. Furthermore, those who buy now are rewarded with a free edger (Rule # 1). Those who don't buy now miss out (Rule # 2).
Warning: Obviously, the offer must be financially feasible for you, so you'll have to do some number crunching before you make the offer. But if you can't make the numbers crunch, get creative. People love FREE stuff (there are those ALL CAPS again), and often don't read the words that follow F-R-E-E that closely. If you can't make the FREE edger from our above offer work, offer a coupon for a FREE cleaning or a FREE booklet on how to keep the lawnmower clean. Neither are very expensive, and both continue to make the offer attractive.
People expect more these days. Think about it: Google is FREE, Facebook is FREE, WiFi is often FREE. In order to have an attractive offer, the prospect has to really feel they're getting a deal. FREE is a great way to do that.
You can tie these special offers in to some particular event or season (like jewelry or flowers or chocolates for Valentine's Day or just about anything for Christmas), but you don't have to.
Special offers help you maximize your direct mail marketing efforts and keep your customers ordering from you when you want them to. It's just one more way to be in control of your promotion.
The customer may always be right,
but he's not always in charge.
YOU can control how much - and how fast - your company grows.