It has been a few weeks since DMA 2014 in San Diego. It’s always interesting talking to folks from every aspect of the direct marketing business. I feel like I learn something every time I go.

I spent some time talking to old acquaintances about some innovative offers that generate leads and response without costing a fortune.

Old friend and client Burke Cueny, now a marketing director at Entertainment Publications in their commercial division, has some pretty cool discount programs.

These innovative gift/premium programs can be used as offers in direct marketing response programs. Instead of giving away expensive gift cards or premiums to incite response, they bundle up high value discount offers. For instance, for less than five bucks per respondent, you can provide prospects with offers that can exceed $50.00 or more in real value. These can include free dinners (with the purchase of one) at high end restaurants, attractions, movie theaters, etc. These incentives can be tied to a response, a visit to a dealership or whatever other action you might be trying to elicit. They do have some minimums as far as number of participants or guaranteed respondents. These programs are very cost effective and generate higher response.

This was confirmed by another friend, Jerry Montgomery, of 5W Strategists in Advance Mills, VA. He does direct marketing strategy for a Blue Cross Blue Shield organization and a AAA affiliate.

The Affordable Health Care Act created an opportunity for health insurers to reach out to the mass of uninsured individuals who would either have to purchase insurance or pay penalties. One of the scenarios he tested for at BCBS was offering a $5.00 Amazon discount card to get people to take a survey. Data from the survey was used to market further to them to sell them a healthcare policy. Jerry reports that the Amazon card gave them over 4 times the response of other offers.

For AAA, a $50.00 dining card was offered as an incentive to sign up and buy. He reports that they got well over a 10% lift in ROI over any other offer that was tried. The premise was simple, the consumer felt like the value they were getting was more than what they were spending on the membership.

Everyone in the direct marketing game knows the offer can make or break performance. If any of this sounds interesting to you or you want more info, give me a yell.

Does anyone else have any innovative takes on offers?