We know that some people who arrive at this article are going to roll their eyes. They already know why it’s necessary to have an offer. They don’t need to find out.

But enough businesses overlook (to their detriment) the need for offers that it’s worth taking up.

To Offer or Not to Offer…

In today’s direct marketing landscape there are a few schools of thought about what your postcard or other marketing pieces should contain:

  • The first school says, “Don’t present offers; provide valuable content…give away your know-how for free and eventually, people will buy from you out of a sense of gratitude or obligation.”
  • The second school says, “Always, always, always present an offer, in every marketing communication.”
  • The third one says, “Offer? Umm…we have a listing in the Yellow Pages.”

(We’re not going to include the third one in this discussion.)

Depending on what industry you’re in, there should be a balance between the two schools.

For instance, it’s pretty much expected that a local restaurant that markets with direct mail is going to make offers (perhaps several on one card) any time they mail out.

This works because people tend to eat on a continual basis…

But they don’t tend to have their houses painted continually, so a housepainter can’t continually promote offers to his customers, though he can stay in touch with them so as to get hired the next time the house needs a new coat. (The housepainter would, of course, continue to promote offers to prospects.)

But to keep a long story short, you’ve got to present offers on a regular basis. Being “offer-free,” as you will see, is pointless and wasteful.

Reason #1

If you walk up to someone and put out your hand, they will likely shake it.

If you don’t, they won’t reach over, grab your hand, and put it into theirs.

See? By putting out your hand, you’ve “told” them what you want them to do and they usually will do it.

So the first reason for having an offer is:

It tells people what you want them to do.

We don’t mean to imply that just because you present an offer in your direct mailer that everyone will immediately buy. But over time, more will than if you did not present offers.

Reason #2

Consider these two scenarios:

  1. You receive a postcard that shows “Bud’s Plumbing, Established 1972, Call 555-1212”
  2. You receive a postcard that shows “Acme Plumbers. Clogged drain/toilet $50. Call 24 Hrs. a Day.”

Example “A” tells you nothing of value, whereas Example “B” gives you price, availability, and tells you to call. (There’s the “handshake.”)

Without veering off too far into the psychology of marketing, here’s the second reason:

People expect offers.

Upon receiving a marketing piece, the human mind expects a call to action (“Order today,” “Call now,” etc.). And in order to have a call to action, you’ve got to first offer something. Hence, people expect that marketing pieces will contain offers.

You don’t want to let them down, do you?

Reason #3

Taking into account the first and second reasons, it’s clear that a steady campaign of direct mail without offers is a method for wasting your money. When you make an offer, more people respond. So, the third reason is simply return on investment.

If you’re not making enough sales, check and see if you’re making enough offers in your direct marketing.


Making your offers with postcards? Log on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei, where you can design professional-looking cards and mail them too, right from your computer.

Or, you could give Opportunity Knocks a call at 1 (866) 319-7109 and take us up on our offer to handle your postcard design and everything else—saves time!


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