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Is Your Offer Irresistible?


Years ago, when my business was struggling and I was always wondering where my next customer was coming from, I decided to become a student of effective marketing.

That means Direct Response Marketing, of course, as opposed to the image or branding style of marketing overwhelmingly used today by dumb companies, big and small.

I’ve read over a hundred books on sales and marketing, taken over a thousand hours of courses, attended dozens of seminars, subscribed to several publications and watched untold hundreds of hours of television commercials, infomercials and “home shopping” shows.

I also make sure to stay on the mailing lists of over 100 of the world’s top direct response marketers, from billion-dollar corporations to “solopreneurs”.

But despite my purposeful focus on all of this “what’s working” marketing information, of course that doesn’t insulate me from the overwhelming onslaught of spectacularly ineffective marketing that makes up the large majority of what companies – big and small – spend their time, effort and money on.

This includes useless TV and radio ads, cookie-cutter websites, horrible yellow pages ads, plain vanilla postcards and a whole host of blur-of-sameness, insultingly lame coupons – both offline (ValPak, Money Mailer, etc.) and on (Groupon, Living Social, etc.).

The unfortunate bottom-line of almost everything put forth as “marketing” today is this: it lacks a truly compelling offer, giving the prospect practically no reason to part with his or her money.

A few years ago, when the economy was booming (as will happen again in a few years, when the current tough economy ends), we were all much less cautious in our spending. As a result, companies were able to capture our dollars with minimal effort and creativity. Just “being there” was enough for all but the very worst companies to bring in enough revenue to grow year after year.

But today’s reality requires that all business owners put forth very strong messages in order to attract and keep customers, clients and patients.

And at the core of an effective message is what is known in marketing circles as an “Irresistible Offer.”

In other words, are you so clearly and powerfully communicating your promise of value as to make it overwhelmingly obvious that your prospect would be an utter fool to pass it up?

Are you making doing business with you so easy and so obviously beneficial that you stand out crystal clearly in the crowd?

Are your ideal prospects remembering and talking about your offer? Does it spark their imagination and create an immediate, “gotta-have-it-now” buying frenzy?

You may be familiar with some of these legendary “irresistible offers”:

  • Domino’s Pizza’s former “Fresh, hot pizza delivered in 60 minutes or less, or it’s free!”
  • The now-defunct Columbia House Music Club’s “13 records or tapes for $1”
  • Joseph A. Bank’s “Buy 1, get 6 free!”
  • Ron Popeil’s “perfectly-balanced,” lifetime-guaranteed, $882.70 50-piece kitchen knife set for only $39.99
  • Proactiv’s $99 worth of skin care, plus bonus gifts and free shipping for only $19.95
  • The former Vegas World’s 3-day, 2-night stay with unlimited drinks, bottle of champagne, show tickets and $600 of gambling money for only $396
  • Empire Carpet’s “Buy 1 Room of Carpet or Flooring, Get 2 Free” plus no-interest-for-one-year and low-price guarantee
  • Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle’s “The Most Incredible Free Gift Ever”, with $633.91 worth of small business marketing CD’s, DVD’s, newsletters and more for just shipping & handling

All of these have been the direct cause of building fledgling companies and products into mega-successful juggernauts. So why do almost all small business owners choose to ignore reality and insist on continuing to offer unbelievably ordinary, not-compelling-in-any-way offers?

Here’s some of the we-don’t-really-want-your-business offers I received from local businesses in this week’s mail alone:

  • Limo company: “$2 off any airport ride”
  • Pizza chain: “$1 off any pizza”
  • Mailbox rental store: “10% off shipping on one package”
  • Tobacco store: “$1 off a carton of cigarettes”
  • Auto repair shop: “$6 off full service oil change” (no regular price given – $30? $40?)
  • Fireplace store: “10% off any fireplace”
  • Carpet Cleaner: “Clean 2 Areas & A Hall $89 Sale (reg. price $102)”
  • Fence Builder: “10% off any fence or deck (100 ft minimum)”

And my #1 favorite, that arrived in my email junk folder recently from a company I’ve never heard of: “In honor of our 11th Anniversary we want to send you a gift card to either Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts worth $11 for every $1,000 consulting package you purchase!!”

Really, local business owners? Can’t you do any better than these awesomely awful offers?

For an example of how I put together an irresistible offer of my own, check out my bonus package that’s worth much more than the actual product cost itself: HINT: It’s getting a phenomenal response!

Please comment below, sharing either the irresistible offer you currently use in your marketing, or one you develop by modeling any or all of the successful offers listed above!

3 Responses to Is Your Offer Irresistible?

  1. Pingback: DotComSecretsLocal

  2. Peter Reply

    March 7, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Great post Steve. In it you mentioned that you are on the mailing lists of about 100 top marketers. Do you mind sharing a few of them with us so we can do the same.


  3. Steve Sipress Reply

    March 8, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Sure thing, Peter:

    First, you can start with the examples I gave in this post. At least become a prospect of companies that do smart marketing; even better is to make some kind of purchase so you can see much deeper into their marketing system to their “thank you” campaigns, upsell campaigns, referral campaigns, etc.

    Pay special attention to That will get you a trial membership to GKIC, which includes a subscription to the world’s most-widely read small business marketing newsletter. Every month, smart marketers are highlighted in the newsletter, which means you’ll always learn about more smart marketers, and will discover more and more mailing lists to get on.

    I also recommend (and use) a bunch of marketing resources on my website. That’s another place you’ll find lots of smart marketers offering free reports, videos, trials, etc. so you can get onto their mailing lists for little or no cost.

    You should also pay special attention to non-profit organizations. They HAVE to be smart marketers, because they have the distinct disadvantage of having to get people to give them money without offering any products or services in return! If you make small donations, they’ll not only keep you on their lists, but you’ll get a whole lot more marketing sent your way than someone who just expresses interest but doesn’t donate.

    That should be good enough for a start, Peter.

    Have fun, and enjoy your relatively low-cost marketing education!

    • Stacy Reply

      July 21, 2013 at 9:53 am

      This is a great articles! I am swept away by your presentation as well as
      unique viewpoints. I agree with a lot. I’ll return for more great articles.

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