Need a Premium to Promote Your Business? Uncle Sam May Have One for You … for Free

If you are selling a product or service through direct mail – or if you are trying to promote yourself – adding a premium to your offer can boost your response rate significantly. But the question remains: "What sort of premium can you offer to your prospective clients that is easy to prepare and will not cost you a small fortune?"

We turned to Bob Bly to find out what he thinks. He not only answered our question, he told us how you can offer some very effective premiums without having to write them yourself … and without having to pay anything for them.

In Bob's own words:

"I call these special premiums 'Bait Pieces.' I strongly recommend you have a bait piece – a special report, a 'white paper,' or other informational premium – to give away in order to generate leads for your product or service.

"Why an informational piece? Because information premiums can have a high perceived value. The value is in the information they contain … not in the quality of the binding, or how fancily they're produced, or some other outside quality.

"Another reason it'll be well received is that if you've chosen the topic well, the information in the premium will have a high interest value for your prospective client. He'll want to get it for the benefits he sees in it for him and his business.

"And finally – and extremely important – informational premiums are inexpensive to produce. You can produce one for very little cost. Once you have it, you can use it over and over.

"But if producing one of these info premiums by yourself seems overwhelming, you're in good company. Many marketers don't produce their own info premiums because of the research and writing involved.

"But there's an easy way to get around this potential roadblock. And it's free!

"Visit the U.S. government's Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) online. They have loads of how-to and information booklets on a wide range of topics, such as money, health, travel, housing, nutrition, computers, small business, and much more.

"If you find one that would make a good info premium for your business, you can print or download the text, put your own cover on it, print copies, and use it as your own freebie. And the best part is you can do it without paying Uncle Sam a dime!

"How is this possible? Because most of these publications are not copyrighted, so the U.S. government allows you to use them for your own purposes. (They do appreciate if you credit them as the source, however.)

"To see whether FCIC has a booklet you can use as a bait piece, go to its website at

"I have one warning, though. Be sure to check the publication for copyright notices. If the booklet you selected is copyrighted, you cannot use it.

"But I'm sure you'll find another bait piece there that will fulfill your needs just as well. One that will increase response rates from potential clients and customers – and your chances of success – tremendously."

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

Click to Rate:
Average: 4.8
Published: June 28, 2004

3 Responses to “Need a Premium to Promote Your Business? Uncle Sam May Have One for You … for Free”

  1. What a great article! I've just finished a sales letter pitching my own set of children's stories and I lacked a compelling offer or premium. I'm going to act on this straight away... Thanks for answering my question.


  2. A great tip from the formidable Mr. Bly!

    Note, however, that is no longer a valid address. The new address is


  3. Roberto, Thanks for the new address! MJ.


Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)

This name will appear next to your comment.

Your email is required but will not be displayed.

Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters

Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)