Let's Make a Deal

Copy Insiders Issue #50—January 6, 2019

This week's issue is coming out a bit later than usual. You see, I didn't start getting back to post-holiday "reality" until this past today feels more like Friday than Sunday.

I also held off on sending this week's issue because I have a bunch of new people who just joined the list, thanks to my good friend and superstar copywriter Carline Anglade-Cole's mention in her kick-butt e-letter, CopyStar. Thanks, Carline, and welcome to all the new folks!

So without further ado, let's get started. In case you're too young to catch the Monty Hall reference in the subject line, in this week's issue we're going to be talking about offers...

Compelling, irresistible, and no complex math, please!

Last week when I was thinking about my biggest lessons learned (or re-learned) in 2018, one of them was the importance of a compelling, irresistible offer that's easy to instantly grasp and understand the value of. By "compelling", I mean it has some urgency to it. By "irresistible", I mean it's so appealing it seems like a no-brainer. And by "easy to instantly grasp and understand the value of", I mean it doesn't need much explaining, involve complex math, or require choosing from too many options. In many cases (not always), when clients hire me to write copy I get to provide some input on the offer structure. Generally I'm working only on acquisition offers. But I've also gotten involved on back-end offers--often the most profitable pieces of the funnel which can make-or-break a new promotion or launch. I'm seeing companies put a lot more thought and effort into building out their funnels before they even initially test a new online promotion. But the first step in the process is the toughest and the most crucial: getting that initial order. Let's take a look at one of the most popular acquisition offers I'm seeing, primarily in the supplement space...and the best ways to make it simple, compelling, and eliminate any barriers to buying...

Maximizing the power of this classic direct mail offer

What's been working the past few decades and continues to work well in the mail for selling nutritional supplements is long-form copy in a self-mailer format. The most popular of these formats are 32-36 page "slim jims" and 16-24 page "magalogs".

The beauty of these longer formats is it gives you lots of opportunities to dimensionalize the offer...overcome any objections...and make it easy to buy. Most companies want these mailings to at least break even--they know they'll get future revenue from customers reordering, since supplements are a consumable product.

However, some companies I've worked with aim to bring in 130% or more of breakeven, while others are happy with mailing at a loss of 80% of costs.

Regardless of the company's profit targets, the best strategy for success is to go for the highest average order value possible. And that explains why the most tried-and-true tactic for doing so is the classic "good/better/best" offer structure.

For supplements, this often becomes something like this--the "best" option is to buy 6 bottles. The "good" or "great" option is to buy 3 bottles. And the single bottle offer of 1 bottle is often downplayed and only there primarily to show a comparison.

Now, this may seem counter-intuitive since you're forcing the prospect to decide between 3 choices--risking leaving them in indecision limbo. As a side note, years ago I worked with clients who would not only have the 3 different order options, but also include an automatic delivery option...which would really leave a prospect in potential limbo.

Those clients eventually tested out of those offers. In fact, one major company shifted to a single bottle only offer for their direct mail. (They eventually went back to the 6/3/1 offer structure). I think why the 3-option approach works is the simplicity of the offer--the only variation is the bottle quantity and your associated savings/free gifts.

With these 6/3/1 offers, it's essential to include incentives to push the prospect towards a higher average order value. The most popular of these incentives are free special reports--still popular after all these years in spite of the Internet (however, one major mailer has mostly tested out of using them).

Here's an example of an order form from a recent direct mail control of mine that's mailed for over a year as slim jim as well as a magalog and newspaper format. It's using a variation on the classic 6/3/1 offer, including 3 free reports with the "best value" deal, and one free report with the 3-bottle deal:

Let's take a look at what's working here to present this offer in the best light and maximize the average order value--here at this critical decision point in the promo:

1) The big $298.65 number right at the top demonstrates the total value of the savings and free gifts with the "best value" offer AND the fast-response bonus.

2) The acceptance copy hits all of the main product benefits and desires of the prospect. It also removes the risk of ordering by reminding the prospect of the "Down to the Last Capsule" money-back guarantee.

3) It leads with the "Best Value"/most expensive option first. The callout to the right of it shows the cost per bottle, eliminating the need for complex math. Rather than use the classic 6 bottle offer here, it goes with a "buy 5 get 2 FREE" offer, which provides more tangible and visual savings versus simply a total dollar savings. Remember, you want the offer to be easy to instantly grasp and see the value of. The regular price value of the 7 bottles is shown and crossed-out, with the "best value" price purposely chosen to be just under $200. The 3 free reports are mentioned, with the dollar value of them, plus the free shipping that's included, and the supplement savings all add up to a great big dollar savings number to make it seem irresistible and like a no-brainer.

4) The "Great Value" deal gets second billing, with a free bottle, one free report, and free shipping. Generally the same strategies and tactics are used as with the "Best Value" deal, without taking away from the latter's positioning as the most appealing option. It's a good middle-of-the-road option, but not too good...with the idea being to push the prospect towards the "Best Value" option.

5) The "Special Single-Bottle Trial Offer" is the afterthought/poor stepchild of this offer. It's primarily there to provide a basis of comparison, though in this case it's providing a savings of $20 off the regular price of $59.95 (many other supplement offers would have it be at the regular price and no discount). There's no free report with this option, and you have to pay shipping and handling to boot. For little more than twice that amount you can get the "Great Value" deal, and that's what this is designed to push the prospect towards considering. It should be just appealing enough to get someone to buy if they're not going to buy anything otherwise, but unappealing enough that it makes at least the next level up seem like a no-brainer.

6) Last, but not least, is the Fast-Response bonus, included in order to provide urgency. The idea is to get the prospect to take action now, while they're thinking about it. So the incentive here is a free bottle of a whole food-based multivitamin with a value of $24.95 when the prospect calls in to order in the next 7 days. It's always a good idea to have some sort of "early bird" or "fast action" bonus...often I've seen other clients and companies offer an additional free report or free shipping here. In this particular case, the fast-response bonus is also acting as a call-in bonus, since by calling the order in the prospect can then be upsold into a higher-dollar offer, and/or cross-sold another product.

(Note: it's important to only use the call-in order bonus when you know there's a good, competent team on the other end answering the phone. I once had this backfire when trying it with a new client whose order center representatives were so bad, they were actually suppressing sales.)

I cut off the bottom of this order form, but the toll-free number is in LARGE type in a prominent location. Whenever possible (assuming there's a good call center taking the calls), you want to encourage prospects to call versus mail--even if you don't have upsells in place (but why wouldn't you?) Calling is a more immediate and impulsive action, whereas taking the time to put something in an envelope and take it to the mailbox has too many points where the prospect can get distracted or change his mind.

In this particular 36-page slim jim promo, there are nearly 8 full pages dedicated to explaining, showcasing, and dimensionalizing the offer, the guarantee, and closing the sale. You can see how having the right offer is just part of the's what you do with it to drive the prospect towards taking immediate action and maximizing the order value.

Many times you can beat the control simply by getting a higher average order, even if your overall response rate is lower. That's why knowing how to present the offer in the most effective way (and provide input whenever possible on crafting the best possible offer) will get you bigger winners more often!

Yours for smarter marketing,


P.S. We'll take a look at some other aspects to showcasing and dimensionalizing the offer in coming issues, as well as at some of the most popular online supplement offers out there. So stay tuned! In the meantime, if you haven't gotten your hands on my in-depth Virtual LA Boot Camp Intensive training program, you can find out all the details here and get it at special savings.

P.P.S. If you'd like to get a copy of the full Plavinol promotion I talked about earlier, I've just added it to the "Kim's Controls" store. Between now and January 31st at 11:59pm ET sharp, you can get my Plavinol control here plus any of the others I've made available at special half-price savings. Simply add the Plavinol promotion to your cart, click "continue shopping" if you'd like to browse some of my other controls, then click "checkout". Enter the following discount code on the next page to claim your half-price savings: HALFJAN19

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