Ivan Levison —
Direct Mail, E-mail and Advertising Copywriting

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Action Ideas For Better Direct Mail,
E-mail, Web Sites & Advertising

Published by
Ivan Levison, Direct Response Copywriting

March, 2008
Volume: 23 Number: 3

How to create a killer offer – A case history

A few days ago, I got a subscription mailing from Inc. magazine that was
so fresh and compelling, I had to tell you about it.

As you may have noticed, magazine subscription packages are all pretty
much the same and you’d think that it would be tough to come up with
a new approach. But that’s exactly what Inc. magazine did.

Here’s the story . . .

The outer envelope contains teaser copy that reads:

Pay-what-you-want subscription offer.

It’s true!

Inside the #10 envelope is the order form which says (in part)

/x/ YES! Please send me my FREE issue of Inc. to preview.
I understand that after I have received my preview copy, you
will send me an invoice that I can return with the PAYMENT

The buck slip reads:

Too Good to Be True?

Not so. We are offering you this unheard-of opportunity to determine
your own subscription rate for 12 issues of  Inc. because we believe that
after reviewing your FREE issue, you’ll find Inc. speaks directly to YOU
with a highly specialized understanding of the mindset, interests and information
needs of the entrepreneur. Act quickly. This offer is time-sensitive and

This approach is a extremely creative variant of the standard magazine free-trial
offer and I’ll bet it has every chance of doing well.

To find out more about the genesis of this compelling offer I called Patrick Hainault
at Mansueto Ventures (the publishers of Inc.) who came up with the promotion.

Patrick tells me that he got the idea from a Radiohead offer that appeared
on the band’s website. Radiohead was selling their new album on a pre-release
basis and told fans that they could order online and pay what they thought
the album was worth.

Will this approach work for the Inc. subscription mailing?

Well, let’s crunch some numbers . . .

A subscription to Inc. (in the prospecting stage, not the renewal stage) normally
is tested at prices from $5 to $12.

An economist would say that any rational being would only offer a penny for
a subscription. But Patrick has higher hopes. He believes most respondents will
offer to pay something within the target $5 to $12 range . . . or more!

I asked Patrick how he thought this new promotion would actually do against
his control. He explained that increased costs associated with the more
complex fulfillment cycle might ultimately do the offer in, but he was unfazed.

Like all direct marketing pros, Patrick is committed to endlessly testing ideas
in search of the holy grail . . . the new, more profitable control.

Want to know how the mailing did? Patrick said that he would share results
when the testing is complete. Stay tuned. In the meantime, remember the
takeaway message for the month: If you want to win in direct response, test,
test, and test again!

How To Get In Touch

Ivan Levison
Direct Response Copywriting
14 Los Cerros Drive
Greenbrae, CA 94904

Phone: (415) 461-0672
Fax: (415) 461-7738
E-mail: ivan@levison.com
Web Site: http://www.levison.com

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Copyright 2008, by Ivan Levison, All Rights Reserved.

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