One of the best ways to increase response for any type of marketing activity is to make some sort of special offer to the reader. That offer maybe a discount, special pricing, or some sort of bonus available if the reader takes the specified action right now.

Often, when a client is considering using a media outlet that they have not used before, I’ll recommend that they develop an offer to get a better sense of what type of response they can expect from that particular media outlet.

However, I found that many companies are hesitant to make special offers even if they’re desperate to add customers. They focus solely on the value of the offer itself, instead of on what the offer is expected to produce. So they make an offer that really isn’t all that valuable or attractive. It doesn’t motivate potential prospects, so they don’t turn into customers. And then the organization will say the marketing effort was a failure.

Before you decide what to offer in any type of promotion, you need to consider what the lifetime value of a new customer will be to your organization. For example, if you operate a restaurant, a regular customer who dines in your restaurant once a month over the course of the year might be worth $500 worth of business. A special offer that costs you $20 may seem excessive, but it is tiny when compared to the long-term value of the business you receive once that customer samples your food.

Using this approach successfully takes a long-term view. You can’t just think of this week’s sales or this month’s sales. You need to look at what that customer will mean to your organization. It may be that your customer base is made up of one- time buyers. In that case, it probably doesn’t make as much sense to make a generous offer to customers. However, if your goal is to build long-term business, taking a deep breath and making a great offer up front can pay handsome returns in the long-term.