Never Confuse Offer and Promise

This is a great example on how deceptive direct mail offers can be. I am a longtime admirer and buyer of Nightingale Conant's products. My lifetime value with them has been more than $350.

All along, Nightingale was known for sending wonderfully designed mail pieces with attractive copy. Even though some of the copy changed, the offer was the same. Tear-off card, 30-day risk-free trial. After 30 days or before, return the tape program and you owe nothing. Otherwise, if you decide to keep it, we will send you a bill. I bought programs … well, most of the time. Only recently I decided to take advantage of their offer.

The Internet and Information Age has caught up with me and I developed that habit of scanning material quickly to gauge worthiness. Well, I had the misfortune to scan the 30-day free preview too well. So well that when I put together the elements of a great direct mail offer (copy, design, offer, promise, product) somehow I found the Nightingale offer was too good compared to the product.

In short, after getting the tape program and saying “yes” to the preview option, I ended up listening to it and returning it. After three trials, Nightingale sent me a letter saying, “I had specific needs that obviously Nightingale Conant couldn't satisfy, most of their clients are happy with their product and that I have returned the product too many times.” Furthermore, I will be put on special promotion not to receive free trials anymore (sad). Wouldn't you feel super important and privileged after this?

Well not really. I happen to still like Nightingale — but after a letter like this and a response from me that Nightingale totally ignored, I am now a client of their competition. Sorry, Nightingale you blew your lifetime value with me. If you can't stand behind your promise, don't make any and charge upfront. That will probably depress response somewhat but at least weed out individuals “with special needs.”

Philippe Maman

[email protected]

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