A huge mistake many, if not most, direct response marketers make is to pay scant attention to the offer.
Many years ago, a colleague of mine and I developed a protocol for reviewing and revising marketing copy ( the “Peer Review”), that is used today by businesses all over the world.
It was a low-stress, time-efficient, non-critical way to identify weak copy and make good copy better.
Recently, I introduced a similar strategy for reviewing and improving direct response offers. (The offer is essentially the proposition you make to the buyer at the end of the sales pitch: “Here’s what you get. Here’s the price. These are the terms. And here’s the guarantee.”)
Although they say “copy is king,” anyone that understands how direct marketing works knows that of the three elements that comprise a sales promotion, the first in importance is media (the list you go to). The offer is second. King Copy is third.
That’s why I’ve always urged my clients, employees, and marketing protégés to devote as much time to the offer as they do to the copy. I’ve sung that song for many years, but I was usually singing into the wind. To change behavior, you need to give people more than a good idea. You have to give them an instruction manual.
So here’s a preliminary instruction manual for the Offer Review:
* Enlist. 4 to 6 people to participate, including the copywriter.
* Circulate. the draft of the promotion, including the existing offer, so they can read it before the review.
* Refresh. Ask the reviewers to skim the promo again at the beginning of the meeting, so that both the copy and the offer are fresh in their minds.
* Rate. After they’ve finished skimming the promotion, ask them to rate the offer, from 1 to 4, based on how compelling it feels to them.
1 – Not very interesting.
2 – I’m thinking about it.
3 – It sounds good.
4 – This is too good to say no!
* Discuss. Allow everyone to explain his/her rating. Have a short, general discussion of the copy’s strengths and weaknesses and how that affected their feelings about the offer.
* Question. Ask, “After reading the promotion, what possible objections or doubts might the prospect have at this stage? Enumerate them.” Then ask, “What can we do in terms of the offer that can answer these questions and/or overcome these objections?”
* Challenge. Ask, “How else can we strengthen this offer? How can we make it absolutely irresistible to our prospective buyers?”
* Finish the meeting with a recap of what the new test offer will be.
* Follow up with a note to everyone confirming what they will be testing.
This is just a first draft of the Offer Review. It will need to be refined through practice. But although it’s not perfect, it’s roughly right and should be very useful to any marketer that wants to achieve maximum results.