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The Godfather Guide to Direct Marketing

Make Me an Offer I Can’t Refuse

You Must Persuade Me to Act or Your Beautiful Promotional Piece Will Sleep with the Fishes

I was perversely inspired to write this because of a recent gorgeous direct mailing I received from local French restaurant.

They did a lot of things right. There was some beautiful photography that captured the essence of this charming little bistro. They described how the restaurant and its cuisine were uniquely appealing. They shared some impressive awards and recognitions for their excellence. They included their Web address. And, they even provided a little map that showed me exactly how to find it.

There was only one thing missing. But it was the most important thing: They failed to make me an offer that would entice me to dine at the restaurant. In fact, there was no offer at all.

So here’s a lesson we all learned long ago from the Godfather: make me an offer I can’t refuse and I will respond promptly and positively. For this restaurant, there were certainly plenty of possibilities. It could’ve been free appetizers, free glasses of the house wine, buy one entrée get one free, 50% off a bottle of wine or free desserts. But they offered me nothing.

Even worse, there was no call to action, offer or no offer. On one side of the 3" x 7" promotion piece the name of the restaurant served as the headline. On the flipside, the only thing resembling a headline was "recipient of many awards". They didn’t ask me to take any action at all.

For me and I’m sure for most of the recipients who aren’t familiar with this restaurant, we will probably toss the promotion piece without taking any action. It appears to be a pretty expensively produced item so that means between postage, design, and printing they have spent a lot of money. But, I think most of that money was wasted because they neither asked me to come to the restaurant nor offered me any compelling reason to do so.

I am not a direct marketing expert, but I do know this: If you make me an offer I can’t refuse, you increase the likelihood of taking the action you want me to take by orders of magnitude. Moreover, if you had told me to bring an offer-containing promotion piece to the restaurant, you could have measured the results of your marketing efforts precisely. Finally, whatever you gave away would have been more than balanced by the money I spent on everything else during my visit–not to mention the money I would likely spend on future visits.

The direct marketing lesson: When you make your prospective customers an offer they can’t refuse, it will work for you just as effectively as it worked for the Godfather all those years ago.

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More Stories By Newt Barrett

Newt is a leading thinker on the new discipline of content marketing. He urges marketers to think like publishers by delivering essential, relevant, and timely information that makes customers smarter and wiser–and much more likely to become buyers. Newt is a successful publishing executive with more than 25 years of experience as both a manager and business owner. He has launched profitable publications in the high tech arena for both CMP and Ziff-Davis. He was an early player on the web in 1996 as Publishing Director of an early Yahoo competitor, NetGuideLive. As an entrepreneur, he launched Southwest Florida Business and BusinessNewsNow.com in the late nineties, later selling them to Gulfshore Media. His publication still thrives under its new name, Gulfshore Business. In addition to his sales and marketing skills, Newt is a published writer for Business Currents and Gulfshore Business magazines. He writes on topics as diverse as healthcare, education, public policy, growth, business best practices, and technology. He knows how to build great brands that serve client marketing needs. He is comfortable driving dramatic market-driven changes. Newt is recognized as a leader with the ability to move teams in new, unexplored directions. He is effective in high level sales and marketing conversations with senior executives in client organizations of all sizes. He delivers successful consulting engagements to improve products, people, and processes.