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Performance Marketing Checklist #5: Planning the Performance Marketing Offer, Promotion & Copy.

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Several checklists are provided here for you in the form of worksheets and planning guides. But first there let’s discuss key considerations in making up a performance marketing offer for your online (Facebook, Google Taboola ads, email, the landing page, etc.) and offline media (free standing inserts, direct mail, radio or TV ads, IVR etc.). I include a number of important “dos and don’ts” for more convenience.

Handy Planning Tools And a List of Dos and Dont’s

The lists and worksheets are useful in several ways:

  1. They are planning tools, reminding you or your employees of the key items you must consider, and offering you a convenient way to record the marketing decisions you make.
  2. They constitute a convenient set of specifications, which you can then use as reminders of your decisions and to verify that you have implemented each decision.
  3. You can use them to hand over specifications to suppliers and/or those on your marketing staff to implement for you.

Before getting to the lists, however, review these key considerations and dos and don’ts:

Know Who Your Target Is

Decide who your buyer is. It is not everybody, and you must have a clear picture of that buyer.

Choose a Strategy

Decide exactly what is most likely to persuade that buyer – fear or greed – and how you will invoke that motivation.

Decide What Your Offer Is

Your offer is not what you propose to sell, but what you propose to do for the prospect. Choose your main promise, and make that promise crystal clear.

Focus on the Main Promise

Start with impact – the chief benefit promised, whether it involves fear or gain – by focusing sharply on it in your opening message. Don’t dilute your opener by promising everything at once.

Tell Your Story in the Headline

Always use a high-impact headline, and be sure that the headline clearly summarizes the offer and the chief reason for buying – the strategy. The copy following it must reinforce, not explain, the message in the headline.

Add a Reasonable Number of Benefits

Add other benefits in the copy, but make it a reasonable number. They help persuade the prospect, but overdoing it by promising too much leads to confusion and skepticism instead of motivation.

Quantify

Find the means to state promises – benefits – in terms of quantities, for greater impact and credibility. Turn your facts into pounds, feet, numbers of people, miles, or other units of measure.

Prove Your Case

Provide the evidence to make your promises credible. Use logic, testimonials, photographs, official reports, infographics, charts and graphs, or other backup evidence.

Use More Than One Touch

“The more you tell, the more you sell” is a general truth. Tell your story in as many ways as possible, with as many promotional pieces as possible. Make use of retargeting, several different LPs, emails, banner ads, SMS texts etc.

Tell the Whole Story

In each promotional piece, retell the story completely, with different language and different perspectives for each.

Overwrite, Then Boil it Down

Keep your copy lean – as tight as possible, without leaving information out – by writing as much as necessary to tell everything, and then going back to boil out all unnecessary language.

Make it All Good News

Avoid anything unpleasant. Break price into palatable units such as “only $29.50 per month” and “less than 2 cents a page.” If the item requires skill to use offer “simple instructions,” “school children learn the basics in minutes,” and other such reassurances. If it’s something with potential hazard – a kitchen appliance, for example – stress safety features such as automatic shutoffs.

Make Copy Easy to Read and Dramatic

Keep sentences and paragraphs short, and use white space generously. Use high contrast colors – black or dark colors on white or yellow background. Use boldface type, two colors, circling items, marginal notes, and other devices that make copy appear easy to read and also dramatize important points.

Don’t use these in place of motivating copy. What you promise and how you prove your case are the prime factors. Nothing substitutes for them.

Use Charts and Graphs

Claims and reports are more easily understood, and more believable when they are presented as (or with the aid of) graphic devices – charts, exploded views, tables, infographics, and others.

Offer Free Gifts

Useful free gifts – flashlights, ebooks, gift cards, mugs and others – are highly motivating. Choose gifts that are appropriate for your anticipated buyers, and feature them prominently.

But don’t base your strategy or main appeal on the gifts. Your strategy is based on your offer – the main promise and the proof. The gifts should be a bonus extra.

Offer Discounts

Probably nothing, not even gifts or the word free is as alluring as is the lure of a bargain – discounts, special prices, and special offers. Test after test verifies this.

Close Frequently

Just as in face-to-face selling, you must ask for the order repeatedly. Remind your reader frequently of your offer and make it clear that he or she must take action – respond to your urging – to gain the advantages of your offer.

Ask frequently for the order by advising and reminding the prospect of the action to be taken – “fill out the order form,” “call the toll-free number,” “come in for a free, personal demonstration,” and similar closes.

Make Sales Letters Informal and Friendly

If you’re into direct mail, letter-based package inserts, or use copy intensive landing pages (i.e. several “pages” long), set copy in your sales letters with ragged right margins. Mark up the copy with a bold highlighter to create underlines, circled items, marginal notes.

Make it Easy for the Prospect to Order

Arrange to accept credit-card, local online payment methods and cash on delivery (that’s huge pretty much everywhere except the US). Make sure the consumer can order via an online form or by telephone (live agent or IVR).

Create and constantly optimize easy-to-use order forms which require only the consumer information that is necessary to process the order. Supply toll-free telephone numbers.

Eliminate Risk

Offer guarantees, trial periods, delayed billings or payments, or other measures to eliminate risk and display total confidence in what you offer. But don’t overdo this or it begins to sound defensive.

Use a Postscript in Your “Personal” Messages

A prominent “P.S.” gets attention and makes the letter, the email or any other message more informal and personalized.

Many direct-mail professionals make it a standing rule to use a P.S. in their sales letters.

Don’t Be a Comic

Humor has its place, but is dangerous in direct-mail copy. It distracts the prospect, when you want to focus the prospect’s attention. In many
cases, attempted humor offends some people, a distinct hazard.

If it is not truly humorous, in the reader’s opinion, it totally destroys the copy. It’s safer, much safer, to shun humor completely.

Don’t Be Clever

Bad copy is created every day by clever copywriters, people who believe that irrelevant puns, acronyms, and other clever gimmicks sell. They don’t.

Worse, they are often used in place of the right copy, the copy that would sell, and so are destructive. Forget cleverness and keep your eye on the ball – what you offer and why the prospect ought to buy.

Tell the Prospect the Price

You can’t close an order, in most cases, without revealing the price. Make it as palatable as possible, but do tell it.

Test, Test, Test

Nothing is quite as reliable as actual results. Every performance marketing promotion, large or small, should be a test promotion. And can be made so by establishing and keeping records that are designed to help you interpret results and put the information to good use in future performance marketing campaigns.

Part 1: The General Checklist

The worksheet below is a general checklist. It is also a suggested form for planning and specifying major characteristics and elements of your performance marketing promotion.

But it is general, and you will have to get down to more detail, using other forms and lists supplied here for many of the items.

However, this checklist will serve you well as a preliminary planning tool and reminder of some key considerations. Refer to it repeatedly as you build your performance marketing promotion, to ensure that you have not allowed anything to slip between the cracks.

Each item has two boxes, one on the left and another on the right. Use the box on the left to decide what items you plan to incorporate or utilize in your offer. Use the one on the right to to verify that you have done so.

You can also use this form as a guide for others. Check off the left-hand boxes as your specifications, and have them check the right-hand boxes as they complete each task.

INSTRUCTIONS: Check left-hand boxes to remind yourself (or others working on your campaign planning) of items to consider. Check right-hand boxes for items as you implement your planning and/or to have others certify such implementation and compliance.

[ ] Know who your target is[ ][ ]Make copy easy to read and dramatic[ ]
[ ]Choose a strategy[ ][ ]Use charts and graphs[ ]
[ ]Decide what your offer is[ ][ ]Offer free gifts[ ]
[ ]Focus on the main promise[ ][ ]Offer discounts[ ]
[ ]Tell your story in the headline[ ][ ]Close frequently[ ]
[ ]Add a reasonable number of benefits[ ][ ]Make messages informal and friendly[ ]
[ ]Quantify[ ][ ]Make it easy to order[ ]
[ ]Prove your case[ ][ ]Eliminate risk[ ]
[ ]Use more than one touch[ ][ ]Use a P.S. in your messages[ ]
[ ]Tell the whole story[ ][ ]Don’t be a comic[ ]
[ ]Overwrite, then boil it down[ ][ ]Don’t be clever[ ]
[ ]Make it all good news[ ][ ]Tell the price[ ]
Part 1: The General Checklist

Part 2: Defining the Target Population Checklist

Identifying your target – your intended buyer – precisely is important in many ways, especially in deciding what Facebook audience, email or direct mail lists and/or other media to use, what to offer, and otherwise planning and assembling your campaign. (E.g., you would not use TV spots on the late, late show to reach teenagers, nor would you use fear motivation in appealing to children.)

The checklist below is intended to help you think this matter through and sketch in some identifiers of your target population.

INSTRUCTIONS: Check left-hand boxes to remind yourself (or others working on your campaign planning) of items to consider. Check right-hand boxes for items as you implement your planning and/or to have others certify such implementation and compliance.

Gender
[ ]Male[ ][ ]Female[ ]
Age Groups
[ ]Children[ ] [ ] Teenagers[ ]
[ ]Young adults[ ][ ]Mature / middle-aged adults[ ]
[ ]Senior citizens[ ][ ]_______[ ]
Occupations
[ ]Students[ ][ ]Housewives[ ]
[ ]Blue collar[ ][ ]White collar[ ]
[ ]Craft workers[ ][ ]Professionals[ ]
[ ]_______[ ][ ]_______[ ]
Miscellaneous
[ ]Home owners[ ][ ]Apartment dwellers[ ]
[ ]City residents[ ][ ]Suburbanites[ ]
[ ]Rural residents[ ][ ]_______[ ]
Part 2: Defining the Target Population Checklist

Part 3: Planning Basis of Communication Strategy Checklist

Communication strategy is critical to performance marketing success. At the same time, a checklist for devising a sales or marketing communication strategy is difficult to provide, except in general terms because strategic possibilities are usually so numerous and varied.

However, it is possible to offer some ideas and suggestions for at least the basis of strategies – basic motivators, for example – to start thinking on the subject.

Worksheet below does that, and provides spaces for writing in ideas as well. Incorporated inevitably in your ideas for this worksheet and checklist are other considerations – your offer, the main promise, and the chief feature to be included in your headline.

INSTRUCTIONS: Check left-hand boxes to remind yourself (or others working on your campaign planning) of items to consider. Check right-hand boxes for items as you implement your planning and/or to have others certify such implementation and compliance.

Fear as the main motivatorGain as the main motivator
[ ]Embarrassment[ ][ ]Making money[ ]
[ ]Health[ ][ ]Getting education[ ]
[ ]Accident[ ][ ]Learning a trade[ ]
[ ]Failure[ ][ ]Being popular[ ]
[ ]Money loss[ ][ ]Being more attractive[ ]
[ ]_______[ ][ ]_______[ ]
Part 3: Planning Basis of Communication Strategy Checklist

Part 4: Planning Proofs of Offer Checklist

No matter how appealing your offer, you must prove to your prospect that you can and will make good on your promise. Worksheet below offers some ideas for items that prospects will usually accept as such proof.

INSTRUCTIONS: Check left-hand boxes to remind yourself (or others working on your campaign planning) of items to consider. Check right-hand boxes for items as you implement your planning and/or to have others certify such implementation and compliance.

[ ]Logic / rational argument[ ][ ]Charts, graphs, infographics[ ]
[ ]Professional reviews[ ][ ]Text testimonials[ ]
[ ]Photos, esp. before/after shots[ ][ ]Audio testimonials[ ]
[ ]Official documents[ ][ ]Video testimonials[ ]
[ ]Citations from documents[ ][ ]_______[ ]
Part 4: Planning Proofs of Offer Checklist

Part 5: Ideas For Gifts and Discounts Checklist

Worksheet below offers ideas for extra motivators, items intended to help close hesitant prospects. Of course, the extra motivators should be appropriate to whatever it is you are selling.

For example, in the past correspondence schools selling technical courses often gave the student-enrollee a slide rule as a gift. Then those schools would have offered a free calculator, since pocket calculators had made slide rules obsolete. And now non-expensive tablets or ebook readers would be a better fit.

INSTRUCTIONS: Check left-hand boxes to remind yourself (or others working on your campaign planning) of items to consider. Check right-hand boxes for items as you implement your planning and/or to have others certify such implementation and compliance.

Gift items
[ ]Luggage[ ][ ]Digital clocks[ ]
[ ]Digital weather stations[ ][ ]Subscriptions[ ]
[ ]Books[ ][ ]Wallets[ ]
Discounts
[ ]Package prices[ ][ ]For prompt ordering[ ]
[ ]Special coupons[ ][ ]For order above $X[ ]
[ ]_______[ ][ ]_______[ ]
Part 5: Ideas For Gifts and Discounts Checklist

Part 6: Miscellaneous Checklist

INSTRUCTIONS: Check left-hand boxes to remind yourself (or others working on your campaign planning) of items to consider. Check right-hand boxes for items as you implement your planning and/or to have others certify such implementation and compliance.

There are a number of miscellaneous items to consider such as ways to make it easy for the customer to order and ways to break the price to the customer as gently and as diplomatically as possible. Many of these performance marketing subjects do not merit a worksheet or checklist of their own, but some can be combined in one miscellaneous checklist, as in the worksheet below.

Making it easy to order
[ ]Seperate order form[ ][ ]Credit card ordering[ ]
[ ]Toll-free phone[ ][ ]Cash on delivery ordering[ ]
[ ]Pre-populated form (customer hits submit button only)[ ][ ]Bill me later scheme[ ]
[ ]_______[ ][ ]_______[ ]
Revealing the price
[ ]Break the price into weekly or daily rate[ ][ ]Unitize it on some other basis[ ]
[ ]Accept payment schedule[ ][ ]Make apples to oranges comparison[ ]
[ ]_______[ ][ ]_______[ ]
Eliminating risk
[ ]Money-back guarantee[ ][ ]Guarantee of results[ ]
[ ]Free trial period[ ][ ]Delayed/deferred payment[ ]
[ ]_______[ ][ ]_______[ ]
Part 6: Miscellaneous Checklist

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The expert's thoughts on direct response - growth hacking - performance-based marketing activities - DIRECT MARKETING

About Me, Rafal Lipnicki.

the direct / performance marketing consultant with a strange sounding name

Who.

Not your usual "guru" but a real-world performance marketing & innovation consultant based in Europe and an experienced senior executive at leading multinational companies.

What and Where.

I am a consultant for hire, working remotely and on-site all over the world (but Europe is always preferred). See my consulting services page for details.

How.

Contrarian advice most of the time. Document-based audits, workshops, one-off projects, mentoring programs, and more.

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