Are you really doing enough to improve your offers?

Direct marketers today spend an inordinate amount of time on media, lists and creative. While these all are important variables, sometimes we need to remember the most important variable of all is what you’re offering. We tend to get carried away with the excitement of new media, the infinite details of our circulation plans, and the development and testing of various creative packages. But all these things mean nothing if we don’t have an offer the customer wants.

Our offer-development skills seem rusty to me. All too often the extent of our offer development is deciding between offering a 10 percent discount or free shipping. Just look at the similarity of all the offers you see today. Who’s really offering anything truly new?

Offer development isn’t easy. It requires innovative, creative team-thinking and risk taking. It also requires complete organizational support, including the folks in product development, IT, marketing, sales and distribution. Here are seven pointers on how to find your next BIG offer.

1. Always start by looking for your customers’ “points of pain” that relate to your core offering. When in doubt, ask customers what they worry about or what “headaches” they have. You may be amazed at what you find out.

2. Work with those customer problems in the context of your base offering and develop solutions that may involve product, information, pre- or post-sale services, outsourcing, warranties, etc.

I know a seller of specialty industrial water pumps whose customers were having trouble training their installers and maintenance crews. The seller produced a line of training materials and videos featuring its products to assist customers’ training efforts. Recognizing the need, the company launched a separate training business.

3. Look for opportunities to bundle your product and service with other complimentary products or marketers.

4. Look for ways to get a third-party endorsement to your offer and access to a new channel of distribution. For example, I knew a company that sold human resource compliance materials endorsed by various state chambers of commerce. In addition to providing an endorsement, the chambers provided member mailing lists and internal communication vehicles to help promote the product offer. Many associations will do the same for a product or offer they believe in. And, of course, they receive a commission on the sale.

5. Look for ways to provide pre-sale educational content and post-sale services such as warranties, reorder reminders, trade-ins or recycle programs. Think not just about selling your product, but also about the customer’s entire life cycle in the use of your product.

6. Some of the most powerful words in direct marketing are “new,” “unique” and “guaranteed.” Find ways to make your offer have all three of these things.

7. Spend at least half of your marketing brainpower and time developing and testing new offers, whatever they may be. Ultimately it will pay off much more than that 10 percent- or 20 percent-off discount offer will.

Have a new offer-development story you would like to share? Please do so by hitting the “post a comment” button below or e-mailing me at .
Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ or (954) 383-5221

Comments or questions are welcome.

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