‘What’s in it for me?’

Keeping the customer top-of-mindIt's a fact of marketing life.When a customer puts his money down for a product, premiums and incentives are usually the hooks.Think about it: You buy a magazine subscription - where's the clock radio or the luggage set?From...

Keeping the customer top-of-mind

It’s a fact of marketing life.

When a customer puts his money down for a product, premiums and incentives are usually the hooks.

Think about it: You buy a magazine subscription – where’s the clock radio or the luggage set?

From toiletries to Club Med vacations, incentives can be a key drawing card.

The W.I.F.M. (What’s In It For Me?) rule is what direct marketers follow when building a campaign with the customer in mind.

Premiums and incentives are a stock-in-trade of the direct marketer. After all, soliciting a direct response involves the offer, that enticing hook used to influence the buying habits of the consumer.

Without an offer there is no direct marketing.

Nowadays, other forms of advertising and sales initiatives are also using premiums and incentives more and more.

If you’re thinking about using incentives, there are a number of things you should keep in mind.

1. Plan and test your program before implementation.

Ask ‘What perceived value will an incentive have to the recipient?’

Think creatively. When defining perceived value, consider your target audience.

If you are selling a high-value product to high-end consumers, a clock radio, no matter how valuable, is unlikely to have much appeal.

Seek a premium or incentive that they can only get from you or your product.

2. Understand the product or service you’re marketing and the market you wish to reach.

Premiums and incentives that fit the personality of the brand often produce better qualified leads. However, this is not an absolute rule.

Often, an off-the wall premium will pull better than a more sensible approach. Test, test and keep testing.

3. Pay attention to perceived value.

Will the offer appear valuable to the recipient? Will they keep it, use it or talk about it?

Market knowledge will enable you to assess perceived value.

4. Pay attention to utility.

Generally speaking, the greater the utility of the incentive, the greater the perceived value.

Great utilitarian incentives include desk calculators, watches and clock radios.

Bear in mind that if you don’t put your product identity on these products, their value is wasted.

5. Pay attention to timing.

Generally, incentives are most effective during product or service launches, attempts to upgrade an existing customer’s buying habits, changes to a product or service or a change in image or positioning.

6. Measure the results.

Sending a premium without measuring the results is like praying for rain and hoping your crops grow.

7. Watch trends.

Better still, create trends.

Examine how other products, both similar and otherwise are marketed. Borrow and test ideas that look adaptable to your product. Consider specialized trends such as club memberships or cross-industry joint partnerships.

Premiums and incentives are likely to see the highest growth in the area of joint corporate promotions that involve complementary products and services.

Theo Sanidas is president of Vancouver-based Western Shores Direct Marketing Group.