11 Point Marketing Offer Check List

Actionable Marketing 101

Involving more than just a product or service’s price, a marketing offer is the hook that gets consumers to buy.  Consisting of eleven attributes, a marketing offer takes into consideration both marketing goals and its target market to maximize its effectiveness. Map your offer out before starting the creative process to ensure that the resulting creative integrates the salient components.

Direct marketing gurus, Bob Stone and Ron Jacobs, outlined the traditional eleven points of a direct marketing offer in their book, “Successful Direct Marketing Methods”. To help you create offers that achieve your marketing goals efficiently across distribution channels including mobile and social media, here’s a guide for using these eleven elements.

  1. Price is the amount charged for your product or service. Do you need price transparency? Does your pricing need to be consistent across platforms? (Remember, you don’t want to appear to be discriminatory.) If your pricing differs due to segmentation and/or media targeting, do you want to build your audience with a low introductory price or do you want to get customers to purchase more units with a lower price for additional products?
  2. Shipping and Handling. While consumers view shipping and handling as onerous, marketers use it to cover the fulfillment and delivery costs that extend beyond actual postage expense. Online retailers, most notably Zappos, widely use free shipping and handling to overcome buyer inertia and inability to see and/or try on product. From a marketing perspective, if you offer free shipping and handling for your product, consider a minimum level of purchase that’s above your average sale. Companies may offer different delivery options such as overnight service for which they charge a premium.
  3. Credit Options/Payment terms. Today’s retailers have a variety of payment options. Most online etailers use a mix of debit and credit cards including Visa, Mastercard and American Express. In addition, there’s PayPal. Bear in mind that retailers pay a percentage of the sale in fees to credit card companies. Also, in this weak economy, some retailers have reintroduced lay away plans to help consumers better afford their products. Think about leveraging established purchasing platforms to help provide additional purchase and distribution channels for your business such as iTunes.
  4. Unit of Sale involves the number and size of items that customers receive. To be in line with the current economy, retailers may offer smaller units of product such as fourteen ounces instead of a pint or bundle multiple units together at a discount to encourage bulk purchasing.
  5. Optional Features includes other forms of specialization. Some of which may yield incremental revenues such as monogramming. This can be a good way to increase the total purchase amount.
  6. Incentives can encompass a wide variety of options such as related Free with Purchase or Buy One, Get One offers. Or it can be a discount in terms of price or shipping and handling. Also, affiliate companies like uPromise try to attract customers by offering them points and discounts in return for purchase.
  7. Time limits are used to incent customers to purchase by a deadline. Etailers like Woot and group buying services like Groupon offer product at a discount for short periods of time, usually a day to get shoppers excited to buy.
  8. Quantity limits are another way to entice consumers to buy because if they don’t, the product will not be available. One factor that’s important to consider is the amount of product versus your potential audience since you don’t want consumers to think that you tricked them by only having a very limited number of items. Some ticket companies use a counter to show the number of remaining items.
  9. Future Obligations was used by traditional direct marketers to lure customers in with a low initial product price if they agreed to buy more product at full price. Now many consumers view this approach as deceitful.
  10. Response channels encompass a broader array in today’s wired world including the traditional phone, mail, retail and fax as well as online, social media and mobile options. Remember that consumers may try to contact you wherever you have a presence so don’t overlook places like Facebook, Twitter and mobile apps.
  11. Guarantees include the traditional direct marketing satisfaction guaranteed or your money back. What customers want to know is will you be there for your customers when they have problems with your product?

Check this list of offer components before you finish your pricing to help you determine whether there are other ways to extend your reach or to close the purchase sooner. When you add social media to your mix, it’s critical to keep these eleven points in mind.

To guide your marketing planning, here’s a detailed list of twenty-five offer-related questions.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Photo credit: mckaysavage via Flickr

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