Boost Sales With Price, Urgency Offers

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This is part two of a four-part series.

Last time, we established that there are three things you must do to create effective direct response advertising: 1) make an offer, 2) provide sufficient information to allow your prospect to accept your offer, and 3) provide an easy means of responding to your offer. So your offer is the heart of any ad.

We began by listing a few classic offers and offers that reduce risk. This time we'll continue by looking at offers that reduce the price and increase the urgency. If you're impatient and want the whole list of winning offers now, go to

Reducing price. No matter what you're selling, eventually it all comes down to price. So saving money can be a good motivator, especially when you're operating in a competitive environment.

· Dollars off. You offer a certificate or coupon with a dollar value that may be redeemed toward a purchase. Or you simply show the original price, cross it out and offer a lower price. However, test carefully because a free gift of equal value often works better.

· Refunds and rebates. With a refund, you may ask $3 for your catalog, then send a $3 discount certificate to be used on a first order. With a rebate, you offer a delayed discount, which encourages a purchase, then send a check or coupon with a particular value.

· Sales. A seasonal sale is a trusty standby to raise volume. A "reason why" sale is similar but gives some explanation for lowering the price such as going out of business, inventory reduction or overstock.

· Introductory price. This lets people try something at a reduced cost for a short time. You can use this to get new customers, though it may annoy loyal customers who might think they should get the best price.

· Relationship discount. This is the opposite of the introductory price. For example, new customers pay $30 while regular customers pay just $25. The goal here is to reward current customers, not to get new ones.

· Group discount. To target certain markets, you can offer a discount exclusive to a type of profession, industry, club, etc. For example, an investment magazine can offer a "professional discount" for accountants.

· Quantity discount. The larger the order, the better the deal. Or if your customer orders five books, you give a 5 percent discount. Or you offer a lower per-issue price for a two-year subscription than for one year.

· Step-up discount. This resembles the quantity discount, but is based on the incremental dollar amount. For example, a 5 percent discount for orders over $50, a 10 percent discount for orders over $100 and a 15 percent discount for orders over $250.

· Early-bird discount. This encourages more and faster orders. Make sure the discount is a real discount. Don't just raise prices for those who order later.

· Price matching. If you compete on price, you offer to match any competitor's price. The idea is to assure prospects that you offer low prices.

· Trade-in. You offer dollars off when a customer trades in a previous model or version and buys a new one. The trade-in can be your own brand or a competitor's.

Increasing urgency. In every sale there's a little hesitation at the last moment. By creating a short window of opportunity, you provide the push to help people make a decision.

· Last chance. This is a reminder that you previously made an offer and time is running out. If you say "last chance," mean it.

· Limited edition. This works well for art, plates, coins, special book printings and other collectibles. The item is special in some way, and there are only X number available or there's a time limit.

· Enrollment period. You establish a window when prospects may enroll for insurance, home study, service, whatever.

· Pre-publication offer. This is a popular offer used by book publishers, especially expensive reference works. The idea is that you need to plan your print run, so you offer a deal to reserve copies. Readers are guaranteed to get a copy and save money, usually 10 percent or 15 percent off what others will pay.

· Price increase announcement. If prices are going up, you can announce it ahead of time so people can take advantage of the old prices one last time or stock up.

· Charter membership. You offer a prospect the chance to be one of the first to subscribe to a publication or join a club or organization. A special introductory price, gift or other incentive is usually included.

· Next time, we'll look at offers that improve terms and provide services and bribes. n


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