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Free offers

When it comes to making compelling offers in your advertisements, sales letters and webpages, I like offers that say:

There’s only one package, it includes these items (or services), the price is this, and here’s why that price is such a great deal.

I never recommend gimmicks like bronze, silver and gold packages with different benefits and different prices. Too many choices can confuse the reader — and a confused reader will say “no” every time, rather than struggle through too many details.

Unlike the Two-Step Offer I talked about previously, a “straight sale” offer is designed to close the sale and persuade the reader make a buying decision solely from the piece they’re reading at that moment. This might be a letter, a newspaper ad, an email… even a postcard. It’s designed to induce the reader to act immediately on what they read and make a purchase from you.

What kinds of straight sale offers work? Here are the top five:

1. Limited Time Offer. It works well if you’re promoting a service with an upcoming start date or a product where the special pricing or combination of items in the product bundle won’t be available after a certain date. Why? Because there’s a time limit for people making a buying decision. Limited-time offers convey a “sense of urgency.”

2. Discounted Price Offer. I dislike random or percentage-off discounting because I think it sends the wrong message to your prospect — that somehow when you charged full price you were charging more than was reasonable or fair. But if you have a legitimate reason to discount, this kind of offer works well. If you sell equipment, for example, and recently bought inventory of the newest model, you could say, “We just received a shipment of the brand new XK-48 Widget. But we also have lots of the previous model left over. They’re still excellent units, but you know what? We need to sell them to make room in our warehouse. We have 127 units left. As a favor to you, we’re going to offer it to you, not at the original price of $995, not even at the discounted price of $695. We are going to offer it to you for our cost — just $422.68.”

3. Limited Availability Offer. This is a very effective offer for any kind of service that people are eager to schedule. For example, once the weekday morning downtime in your day spa is filled, you won’t be able to offer your premium aromatherapy massages at half-price anymore just to fill your schedule. There is tremendous incentive in these types of offers for people to respond before all spots are taken.

4. “Don’t Let Competitors Respond First.” This is a very compelling offer, particularly for high priced business products or services where you are able to limit who you sell to. Being naturally competitive, most business owners will jump at the chance to be the one and only person who captures the product or service you’re offering — thereby cutting their competition out of the running for your product or service. It causes prospects to decide more quickly…and to not think about it too much.

5. Free Bonus. You may have heard other marketers say, Sell the Sizzle, Not the Steak. What this means is that you create your offer in such a way that you talk more about the valuable bonus than you do about the actual product or service you’re selling.

In my next blog post, I’ll give you a short tutorial to help you write your own offers.

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Finally, feel free comment on what you’ve read so far. What changes, if any, will you make to the way you promote and sell your products and services? What kinds of offers are you making right now that work.

Tell me by leaving a reply below.

Until next time,

Janet Switzer

Creative Commons License photo credit: Eleventh Earl of Mar

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