Alan Rosenspan's "Improve Your Response"
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
5. My Offer To You
The subject of this issue is offers; which are one of the most important part of any direct marketing program. This is true in direct mail, e-mail and even direct response television.
You can craft the most brilliant copy; come up with an outstanding design;
and your program may still fail unless you have a compelling offer.
In this issue, Id like to share three of my favorite offer stories which might spark your thinking
Eight years ago, I was doing a direct marketing project for IBM
and I wanted to use the cartoon character Dilbert as a spokesperson. At
that time, Dilbert was just beginning to become popular, particularly
with engineers and high tech people.
I did some research and got the name of the company that represents Scott
Adams, the creator of Dilbert. I found out the name of the woman in charge
and called her repeatedly.
She never returned my calls. So I sent her a dozen roses just
to get her attention and they did the trick. The woman called me
back and thanked me for the flowers, but that was all.
Her exact words were:
"Dilbert isnt interested in your program."
I wanted to ask, "How do you know? Did you ask him?" but I
figured that wouldnt get me anywhere.
So instead I pleaded, "This is for IBM youve heard
of them, havent you? And yes, its only a direct marketing
package, but if its successful, maybe we can use Dilbert for other
The woman interrupted me, "Forget it -- Dilbert wants a relationship
with a company like Snoopy has with MetLife. Dilbert wants to be in all
the ads, the billboards, the TV commercials
(Apparently, Dilbert is an egomaniac.)
Anyway, I couldnt use him but thats not the end of
Fast forward a couple of years. I happen to be in Tower Records, and I notice theyre selling Dilbert mints. There are three different boxes - Manage-mints, Perform-mints and Accomplish-mints.
So I buy them and I think, "I wonder if I can use these mints
as an offer for a high technology client Im working on?"
This time, I dont call the agent. I called the mint company
in Chicago. And I tell them Id like to use their mints as
an offer in my next direct mail package.
Their reaction was very different they were delighted. "You
want to use our mints?" they asked, "How many do you think youll
need?" "Maybe 2-3,000 boxes," I said.
The mint company promised me a great price, but just before I got off
the phone, I had a question.
I dont have to get Dilberts permission,
"No," the mint company said, "We have the right to sell
these mints and you can use them anyway you like."
I used the mints in a direct mail program for Sitara Networks
We mailed out 4,000 pieces to engineers and IS managers and we
got almost 6,000 requests for Dilbert mints. (Thats a 150% response
which is usually considered pretty good)
It was such a popular offer, people told everyone in their offices about
it. Truth be told, some of the leads we received werent really qualified.
But the program was a huge success.
What did I learn from this experience?
1. Keep your eyes open for interesting offers. You never know when you
might spot something you can use.
2. If you want to use a celebrity or something famous dont
negotiate with their agent. Find another company that already has permission
to use them and talk to them.
P.S. My program worked. Have you ever seen Dilbert on a TV commercial or billboard?
Systems Paving regard their direct marketing packages as a "sample"
of their company. They insist that their packages be as beautiful and
elegant as their product, and theyve hired some of the best designers
in the business (For example, Carol Worthington Levy.)
Their direct mail has also been well-written. One self-mailer proclaimed,
"We Worship the Ground You Walk On".
Inside it continued, "Just give us a call and you will too."
Another read, "When our customers see how remarkable their new driveways
look, they go crazy" (But then again, most of them were cracking
up to begin with.)
However, their offer wasnt as strong one reply card read, "Please contact me to set up an appointment so I can take advantage of Systems Pavings Special Offer."
Their pieces also mentioned a 20% or 25% discount, but the actual cost
was never shown.
But you dont even know how your house will look until Systems
Paving actually rips up your pavement and completes the installation.
How could we overcome this?
We came up with a remarkable offer that showed homeowners exactly what
their new driveway or walkway would look like before they
The outside envelope read, "May we take a photograph of your house?"
The letter began as follows:
Actually, Edmonton is beautiful built around a gorgeous park,
lush and green (in the summer, anyway.)
Edmonton is also home to the worlds largest mall, which I had a
half-day to explore. The inside of the mall has a full-size water park;
a lake with two submarines; a go-kart track; a casino; an amusement park;
several movies; a hotel(!) and hundreds of stores. It was an amazing
In any case, the company I worked with publishes a number of monthly
Satellite TV directories and both response rates and renewals were
We developed a number of creative approaches, and a greatly improved
contact strategy, but the most exciting idea was the offer. We came up
with a sweepstakes where the grand prize was this:
I love the offer because (A) The prize directly relates to the
product, (B) The prize is a lot more exciting than a typical free trip
or discount, and (C) It sounds a lot more valuable than it actually
We figured the cost would be approximately $700. a year, and we could
always add a legal disclaimer and cap the maximum value at $10,000.
I also love this offer because it takes advantage of human nature.
"I can get Free programming for life? Whatever I want?"
I think this offer will really capture peoples attention and get a great response. Ill let you know how it goes.
Asking prospects to download a PDF allows them to view your materials
right away while their interest in your product or service is at
On the other hand, sending prospects your brochure or white paper gives
them something they can hold in their hands, and easily share with others.
The production quality will be higher.
And besides, not everyone can download a PDF.
Which is better? I recommend you do both.
Youll get all the benefits of giving your prospects immediate gratification
plus something they can hold in their hands. Best of all, you get two
different opportunities to reach them with your message.
Weve been recommending this idea to our clients for the past two
years, and its been very effective.
It includes dozens of different offers; how to present the offer; 7 offers
to avoid at all costs; and The Real Secret to Offers.
If youd like a copy, please e-mail me at Arosenspan@aol.com
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© Alan Rosenspan & Associates