How to Use Free Reports to Increase Response Rates

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Scott Haines is a direct response copywriter and marketing strategist who's worked for many of the top marketing gurus in the world, including: Gary Halbert, Jay Abraham, Robert Allen and others. He's known most for his ability to write sales letters and ads that pull in huge responses for ultra-expensive products and services. He has graciously given us permission to reprint his ideas below. I hope you find his article helpful the next time you're looking to increase your client's (or your own) copy response rates…]

Remember the old Ginsu knife infomercials? Remember how they'd pile on the free bonuses to entice you to order? If you don't, it went something like this:

" But wait, that's not all! If you order in the next 30 minutes … I'll not only send you the entire 36-piece set of Ginsu knives, I'll include a second set absolutely free! And, you still get the free fisherman's friend fillet knife, the free indestructible cutting board … and … etc., etc., etc.!"

Anyway, the reason they did that is … it worked! That is, it increased sales … sometimes massively.

Nowadays, all you've got to do to see this technique used to perfection is tune in to late-night television. Just stay up late and watch a few cheesy infomercials.

They've really got it down to a science. They have to. It costs so much money to make and test an infomercial (easily $100,000 or more), there's no room for error. If you see one of these 30-minute spots run over and over … pay attention … you know you're watching a winner!

Now, how do you apply this to your business (or to the business of a client that you are writing copy for)? Here are a few different examples…

If you sell information, you can add more information. Free book. Free tapes. Free videos. Free Teleseminars. Etc.

If you are in a service business … say, dry cleaning … you could offer to do something extra. For example, clean one shirt free with every two paid for.

A chiropractor could offer a free exercise ball to strengthen your back with your first paid appointment.

A dentist … free cleaning with your first paid appointment.

Computer sales … free deluxe office chair with the purchase of a computer.

Industrial sales … free one-year service contract with the purchase of a widget.

A note about the free report: The free report is actually a sales letter in disguise. However, you should give them a little information… but… you want that info to be incomplete. You want to tease the prospect into buying. For example, in the ad examples above, in my free report, I might say:

Canadian pharmacies prescribe the exact same drugs as you get in the U.S. at up to 84% off what you pay now! Plus, all your doctor has to do is call in your prescription to one of these pharmacies… then… presto, your medicine arrives at your doorstep the next morning. (But, you have to know which Canadian pharmacies to call… and… there's a certain procedure your doctor must follow to ensure it's legal. It's all revealed on pages 85-89 of the guide.)

See how that works? I'm telling the person where to get very low cost drugs… and… a little bit of the how. But, I'm leaving out just enough info so they can't execute the procedure themselves. At least not without some serious research.

And, if I'm selling a guide for 20 or 30 bucks that lays it out on a silver platter… most people will take advantage of it. Enough anyway to make a healthy profit.

Whatever business or industry you're in, you can use free bonuses to increase sales. Just make sure the bonuses have a high perceived value … and … are easy (and cost-effective) to fulfill. (See caveat below.)

Use your imagination and see how many ways you can come up with to apply this technique to your situation.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: As a copywriter you can suggest creating these reports to your client as a way to increase their response rates. Look at the existing marketing and sales materials they have available and see what gems you can turn into free reports. Consider suggesting new ideas too. If you put some thought into it and really dig deep to find information their prospects would value, you could offer to write the report in addition to the sales letter and you've just won yourself your next assignment.]

CAVEAT: Be wary of tail. What's "tail"? This:

Let's say you are selling a book and you offer a 30-minute free consultation to people who buy it. That consultation is tail. You have now sold your time – time you are going to have to spend later down the road. Better: Offer a similar or complementary free report with purchase of the book. You can easily and inexpensively produce that … and then … you are free and clear. And your customer still gets increased value for the price he pays.

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Published: February 24, 2003

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