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The 5 Main Elements of a Marketing Offer

…Or in other words: “What To Say To Get Them To Buy!”

Is your offer or “Carrot on a Stick” working, if not you might be missing something.

People buy when they are comfortable with an offer and are sure that they need or are going to benefit from the purchase (side note: they don’t really care if you make money or not so quit thinking about you and look at it from your customers viewpoint). You’ve got to create a compelling offer that will make them need, want and be comfortable with your product or service. You also want to be sure that they understand their side of the commitment so that you avoid problems down the road. There are 5 key elements of an offer to address to help make sure you have success!

1. The Product Or Service: Don’t just identify what you are selling, YOU: “I’m selling widgets”  ME: “…uhhh, what’s a widget and why do I need one?” Products have features, observable characteristics (“Our sales tracking software can generate notice e-mails when a customer logs onto your website”). Features have advantages that help build the reason to buy (“Those e-mails are sent within 10 minutes of a customer logging on so your sales team can respond immediately while there is interest!”). You then can identify motives or reasons, (“by responding  quickly you can increase your opportunity to close sales”). Benefits tell customers what they will gain or lose

(“You will increase your closes, revenue and effectiveness of your sales efforts”). Don’t just make a list of what your product does, there is no emotion there, you’ve got to indentify the needs it satisfies, the problems that it solves and why they can’t live without it! One final note though, great promotions can’t overcome a bad product or service…so be ethical here and no lying (besides, in this social networking age, news on bad product and services spreads FAST)

2. The Price: The price sets the value proposition, which is the total benefits promised to a customer in return for their payment. There are basically two pricing strategies that sit at the ends of the spectrum: (A) SKIMMING: If you’ve got a unique product, or a great service level you may price on the high side and not worry about price shoppers, but remember, no matter how unique your product or service, you have competition from anything else that those dollars could be spent on (in other words there is no such thing as “no competition”), Apple Computers tends to run on this side of the spectrum. (B) PRICE PENETRATION: This is the Wal Mart approach, sell lower in volue to penetrate into the market. Sometimes businesses that are struggling will go too far this direction to the point that they can’t make money.  Typically you will find a balance somewhere between the two, because…”The right offer is the one that meets the long term goals of your business which generally are profit!”

3. The Payment Terms: Payment terms can either stimulate or depress response. Do you offer in-house financing? Do you accept all credit cards, Pay Pal, Google Checkout, or only cash? You should know what your customers both need and expect. Other options can include incentives which help people become comfortable with the product before a straight commitment, examples are:  Free Trials (not billed until end of trial, or a period of service free) and Installment Billing (this can be a big incentive for big purchases).

4. Incentives: The sweeteners that can help overcome response resistance! Incentives can motivate a response: “Return our response card and be entered into a drawing for a free iPad”, “Buy One Get One Free”, “Buy a home in the next 30-days and receive $5,000 in upgrades free!”, “Free Shipping”. Incentives should be matched to your audience (I really hope I don’t need to explain that to you). You can make the incentive to good, customers will respond to the incentive, but you may find a high percentage returning the product or cancelling the service! You do want them to respond to the product or service, not just the incentive…remember the incentive is the sweetener that gets them to try and appreciate your product or service. You can and should test to find the right balance.

5. Guarantees: A guarantee can provide that final level of comfort and assurance that helps lower resistance. Guarantees can take many forms, remember that you are using the guarantee to overcome an objections. Sears grew by being one of the first to offer “Your satisfaction guaranteed or your money back!” in order to make people comfortable with ordering from their catalogs. Online you may need to guarantee that contact information will not be shared, or that your site is secure to protect your customer’s credit card information. For Business to Business you may want to state that “No salesman will call”. Other things like “We will confirm your order in 24 hours”, “your order will ship same day” and other guarantees of service level can be important in this age of “right now”. At the most basic level a guarantee of satisfaction should be part of any direct sales offer.

In a previous entry I explained that successful marketing first depends on your Audience and Channel, and next is your offer followed by the copy, format/design and timing. Spend some time learning about your customers (and maybe your product or service…) and then start developing your offer to maximize your success!

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