Creating Offers that Get a Response

You wouldn’t ask their customers so self-serving a question as, “Will you do what I want you to do?” Obviously, you do want them to take a certain action, or you wouldn’t be involved in marketing (and you wouldn’t be running a business). But one of the first lessons we teach business owners with zero marketing experience is this: Your marketing message should be focused on what your customer most wants to know, and that is: “What’s in it for me?”

This process of encouraging prospects and customers to take an action (getting them to do what you want them to do) is aided substantially by offering an incentive (which, as they can clearly see, shows what’s in it for them).

Strong direct response marketing – whether used in ads, email, letters or landing pages – has several elements that lay the groundwork for success. First, you need a headline – this has been traditionally 80% of an ad’s effectiveness. For email, the subject line functions as a headline, and shares equal importance. Second, you need strong, benefit-rich body copy. This is how your customer knows what’s in it for them. And third, you need a call to action. Tell them what you want them to do and give them a time frame for doing so.

Weaving through this group of elements – often touted in the headline, pushed in the body copy and given as a reminder in the call to action – is a strong incentive. For contractors, incentives run the gamut between discounts (say, 20% off a service), trade-in offers or rebates ($450 toward a replacement) and free services (a free electrical safety inspection, etc.). Or this could be “sign up for our newsletter and be entered to win a $25 gift card.”

There’s something in it for the customer if he responds. That’s an incentive. But you also need a time limit, or you really don’t have an incentive. “Get 20% off whenever you feel like calling” is not an incentive. “Get 20% off water filtration systems this month only” is an incentive.

Remember, large items (top-of-the-line home comfort system, for example) can become easier to sell in stages. For example, you take steps in that direction with “a free home energy survey” or a tune-up offer. Then your tech can work on the upsell in the home.

Does the Incentive Fit?

Your incentive should make sense to your prospect and to your business. You could hardly imagine a contractor offering a contest for a three-day vacation as part of promotion to get people to sign up for a newsletter. You’d get all sorts of people signing up who aren’t homeowners and don’t live in your market. You would fill your database with people who don’t need your service and would sink your marketing’s effectiveness.

It’s not just about quantity response. A low price on a routine service could get big response, but you’d be inundated with price-shoppers who’ll look for the same kind of low-price offer next time.

Instead, focus on quality. You want to bring in the right kind of leads, the ones who want your services. So, your offer and incentive are tied to that. You’re looking for a potential customer – not a tire-kicker. That’s why the trade-in incentive is perfect for HVAC. The ones most likely to respond are homeowners with a home comfort system that they are ready to replace.

Creating an offer that works is not magic; it’s science. And science takes study. Test your offers and track the results. Learn what works best and what doesn’t. Then repeat your successes.


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"Boosting Direct Response"

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