A premium is anything of value that you offer a prospect or client in exchange for taking an action that you direct them to. This could include an incentive or a gift.
The right premium could encourage someone who might otherwise set aside the mail to act now instead of later (or not at all). This works especially well when there is a limited quantity available or you state a deadline for responding. An example of this would be offering a Starbucks coffee gift card in exchange for filling out a survey or submitting an honest testimonial.
Premiums can also be used to generate demand for your products and services, to reward fast response, or to boost the size of an order.
Why Does a Premium Work?
Everyone wants something for free, but they also want to reward those who rewarded them.
Premiums work because of the "rule of reciprocation" made famous by Robert Cialdini, a psychologist and author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. According to Cialdini, "We are obligated to give back to others the forms of behavior that they have given to us. Essentially, thou shalt not take without giving in return."
How Premiums Improve Direct Mail Response?
Any direct mail campaign includes the following components:
- The Mailing List
- The Design
- The Copy
- The Offer
- The Print & Packaging
- Timing & Delivery
How do premiums fit into this? They are part of the offer.
Most premiums have low costs but a high perceived value. Although premiums add to the cost of a mailing, the gain in response and the attention they provide outweigh the additional expenses.
Premiums can be delivered in several ways, depending on the goals of the campaign. The premium can be delivered as a front-end offer, when you want your mailing to stand out. It can also be delivered as a bonus or incentive, if the recipient responds to your call to action. In this case, a photo or graphic image of the premium would work well.
Examples of premiums can be found in daily life outside of direct mailers. The McDonald's Happy Meal is often purchased because of the toy premium inside rather than the food. Many cereal boxes are sold because of the trinkets inside as well. Premiums are often used at sporting events when the ticket attendant hands out a calendar or a bobble head to the first 1,000 attendees. Premiums are also found in many non-profit mailers, where a free set of mailing labels with your return address printed on them are included, along with the request for a donation. Our society at large is conditioned to appreciate premiums.
Premiums can also be used to encourage your existing clients to give you referrals and testimonials. They can be used as great reminders to motivate your best clients to help you get more customers.
But will premiums work for you?
Remember that your premium is only one part of the direct mail package. You must still follow best practices and essential principles of direct mail. Although a premium can improve results, premiums alone do not guarantee success.
Just because premiums work for many companies does not guarantee that they will work for you. Test different premium offers, and keep careful records of your costs and sales (or leads) generated.
Although the recipients are not obligated to respond, history, case studies, and human psychology indicate that offering premiums can significantly boost your response rates. Direct mail + a premium can be a winning combination to boost business for your company.
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