By Dale Filhaber

A worthy offer is a key part of a winning direct-marketing package. Even if you have the best mailing list in the world, if you are not making a worthy offer, your response will be mediocre. To make your offer work best, you need to combine a motivator with the offer. The offer is the theme of your message, regardless of the marketing channel. Make it clear right from the start. Define its key benefits. The actual product or service may not be as important as the benefits this product provides. Your job is to nudge them to buy, by making them a promotional offer they can’t refuse and combining that offer with the right motivator to make them push the button NOW.

Top eight direct mail promotional offers
Here is a list, courtesy of, of the most responded-to worthy offers used in direct mail:
BOGO (buy one get one free): 57 percent
Gift card: 55 percent
Percent off your total purchase: 51 percent
Free gift: 38 percent
Percent off a single item: 33 percent
Everyday lowest price: 32 percent
Free shipping: 31 percent
Birthday offer: 28 percent

Which of these might be best for your product or service? Then, which motivator might give you the edge? Craft a worthy offer. Be sure you don’t make your offer lukewarm. Everyone can see through an offer that’s just lip service.

What are the motivators?
Herschell Gordon Lewis (who passed away in 2016), an amazing copywriter and a fellow Hall of Famer at the Florida Direct Marketing Association, always said there are six main motivators to consider in your copy:

1. Fear     2. Exclusivity     3. Greed     4. Delight     5. Guilt     6. Approval

When you integrate your motivator into your promotional offer, you make that offer more enticing, what I call a worthy offer. This is where you go beyond these basic promotions like Come in and get half off today and provide more details about the promotion: what it’s for; what customers have to gain; what they have to look forward to. Be clear with start and stop deadline dates.

Which of these examples is better?
• Come in and receive 50-percent off a massage
• Enjoy a relaxing stone massage for half the regular price, tomorrow and Sunday, Jan 3rd and 4th

Obviously, it’s the second example that takes the basic promotional offer, adds in the fear of missing out (FOMO) motivator and incorporates it into the copy, along with providing a clear deadline. Samples of other phrases often used to help motivate: Exclusive Offer; Only 5 left; Everyone else uses it; Don’t leave home without it; You know you want it.

One quick comment about fear, the strongest but also trickiest motivator. Using this motivator may work in one industry but conflict with ethical marketing practices in another. If you are 30 lbs or more overweight, you are a prime candidate for colon cancer. Scary stuff. Enough to put them off reading any further, until you quickly offer a solution: But now there’s a weight loss supplement that contains a powerful, natural, cancer-fighting ingredient…

In this case, fear works as a solid motivator. For other industries, using fear as the key motivator can be viewed as scare tactics. The Water Quality Industry has developed a set of guidelines to help water-quality marketers tread the water between educating prospects and scaring them to death about the contaminants in their water. Nowadays, we typically see the fear motivator most often used as fear of missing out.

Incorporate social responsibility into your offer
If part of your company’s mantra is social responsibility, this is the best place to incorporate your passion. Bombas Socks provides a great example of a company that has incorporated promotional offers and deadline with social responsibility: In partnership with the Ally Coalition, we’re donating 40 percent of all donation socks from purchases made through the end of June directly to homeless LGBTQIA+ youth in need. We’ve also made special edition pride socks, which are designed to celebrate individuality for Pride 2019. 5% pack savings.

I personally wear their socks proudly. They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: donating a pair of socks (for every pair I buy) to homeless shelters. That is my approval motivator shining through. But I only buy them when I get an offer (BOGO is one of my favorites). That’s where the promotional offer comes in to make me actually push the button and place the order.

Learn more about the offer
Here are some more of DataDale’s articles and blogs about what makes a worthy offer:

  • It’s All About the Offer
  • Tips on Creating the Perfect Offer for your Marketing Campaign
  • Energize your Offer

About the author
Dale ‘DataDale’ Filhaber is President of Dataman Group Direct, a Florida-based, direct-marketing company founded in 1981. She is an author, lecturer, Listologist and direct-marketing innovator. In the past 35+ years, Filhaber has trained many water quality dealers in direct marketing and lead generation techniques, ranging from direct mail to telemarketing to social media. Her latest book, Lead Generation for Water Quality Dealers–2019 Edition, has received rave reviews and can be purchased on Amazon. Filhaber is also the author of Pure Water Profits, a blog on marketing, focusing on the water treatment industry. She is also a frequent guest lecturer at the annual WQA conference. Filhaber can be reached at (800) 771-3282 or or visit the website,

About the company
Dataman Group Direct is proud to showcase,, a dedicated website focusing on lead generation and direct marketing for the water quality industry. The company provides direct mail, telemarketing and email lists for the water quality industry. Call (800) 771-3282 for more information or email


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