Creating a great offer is one of the best ways to get your product or service into the hands of your prospective customers.
But you do have to make sure the offer is a good one... and an appropriate one.
For example, here's the relevant part of an e-mail I received last month:
To celebrate the festive season, until Christmas, we are offering an upgrade to the GooSync one-time subscription for $19.95. (This is the same price as a 12-month renewal of your current account.) This offer ends December 25th, 2008, so treat yourself to an early Christmas present and order yours here today...
Okay, a little background before we get started.
What Am I Doing Today?
We use the Google Calendar system to manage our personal and business calendars. You can have separate color-coded calendars, and share them with designated people, each with a distinct, user-defined set of privileges.
For example, we created a calendar item called "Misc. Public Events" for non-business-related activities that Lorie and I do, like getting together with friends, triathlons, trips, etc. Only she and I have access to these events.
Similarly, there are two calendar categories my staff use for scheduling phone calls for me: one I use to designate "Call Blocks," when I'm available for calls, and another one, "Calls," where they actually indicate the calls they've scheduled for me.
Terry and Jama, who are on my virtual team, have "read-only" access to the Call Block calendar, and "write" access to the Calls calendar.
In addition, there are a variety of other calendar categories for personal tasks, dates blocked out for live programs and related travel, and several others.
This approach works absolutely great when I'm sitting at my computer with a live Internet connection, and is one I highly recommend. (Note: a related product, Google Mail, is where we host our mail servers, and its spam filters work with near 100% accuracy. As a bonus, both the mail and calendar products are absolutely free!)
The only concern, when using a PC-, Mac-, or Internet-based calendar, is that you may want to access the calendars on your mobile phone.
Sync Me Up!
And that's where GooSync comes in. It works with most phones, whether they're Windows Mobile, Palm, or just plain old basic phones, with built-in proprietary calendar functions.
Instead of syncing by plugging the phone into a USB port on your computer, it syncs your calendar events and contacts "over the air" using your carrier's phone network, or Wi-Fi network if available and supported.
So when we got new phones a few months ago, we signed up for the one-time fee program since this was something we were planning on using for a while.
So, needless to say, I was a bit surprised to receive an offer to upgrade to the level we had already purchased for a price that appeared to be less than what we originally paid.
A quick e-mail to the company explained that the $19.95 was actually an upgrade fee and the total would end up being the same price as what we paid.
Their response, however, did not explain why we received the offer in the first place.
And that's the Magic Lesson I want to share with you this month:
Match Your Message to Your Market
This is an extremely important concept that we've discussed many times, but normally in the context of targeting new products and services to specific market segments. You wouldn't want to send an offer for premium steaks to a list of vegetarians, after all.
Well, the same rules of niche marketing apply when making offers to your existing customers. You don't want to send an offer for a particular product to a customer who's already purchased it.
Fortunately, there are clear and easy steps you can take to make sure this doesn't happen. Here are three ideas to consider so you don't do something like this with your own marketing efforts:
1. Does the Right Hand Know What the Left Hand is Doing?
When you create a marketing campaign with a predefined sequence of steps, delivered via various media, and at predetermined intervals, there's one thing you need to plan for: what happens when prospects do respond.
You need a mechanism - manual or automated - that will allow you to remove prospects from your mailing campaign when they accept your offer. (You also need to be able to remove them from your mailing sequence when they request you to do so.)
2. Send the Right Offer to The Right People
It's critical to tailor your offers to specific market segments. You can do this by customizing your materials for each segment. This allows you to more effectively connect with each group and it personalizes your message just for them.
3. "Service After the Sale!"
After someone has responded to your offer, that's the beginning of the work, not the end of it. You need to solidify the relationship within the first 30 days of the initial sale.
This means that just as you had a definite sequence for acquiring the customer, you now need an equally well thought out sequence for retaining the customer.
Keeping these three basic principles in mind will help ensure that you're always getting the right message to the right market - a necessary formula for success, particularly in challenging economic times like these.