From the dawn of time, all business can be boiled down to one single thing. An offer. A quid pro quo.
The Irresistible Offer
Making great offers is the most useful skill you can master, whether you're selling widgets to customers, services to clients, bath time to kids, or yourself, to get hired or secure a hot date).
While a single offer seems innocent and small enough, it packs more "butterfly effect" potential than anything else because a great offer can lead to a strong business, or even marriage. Along these lines, you could even replace "making great offers" with "sales" or even "persuasion".
In any case, making offers, selling, and persuading all involve convincing someone else to agree with you so much they they "buy" your suggested product, idea, opinion, food, or whatever.
You probably won't be able to add every one of these factors to your offer, but adding a few will definitely spice things up. Here are a few tips to improve your offer and make it irresistible.
16) More (but Sometimes Less)
Let's face it, most people want more. Whether it's options, money, chicken nuggets, or the number of gym machines, people are instinctively drawn to the selling points of getting MORE out of their dollars, and to you offering MORE options or units per dollar than your competitors do.
While many will die by their opinion that "more stuff for less dollars" is always better, tell that to the person who just bought a 2-gallon pack of ketchup at Costco for their family of 3. The ketchup will spoil and get tossed before they get a chance to use it, all because they thought they were being smart. You'll even find that person to make the same purchase again simply to again "feel smart."
The point is that whether it's good for them or not, people will always be compelled by any variation of MORE, including options, extras, units, features, available hours, and many more.
That being said, "more" works best when your offer is straightforward, or thin and needs a boost. However, if your offer already has many (or more than ten) ways to customize their product or service, then you may also benefit from offering LESS. Option overload is real and freezes people into inaction.
Make sure that you have your second offer ready to go immediately.
15) A Cause / Bigger Purpose
The internet and the modern era of abundance have enabled global connectivity and other factors to drastically expand the social cause market. This can be seen in the (relatively) new business models such as one-for-one, employed by TOMS shoes and Warby Parker, where they "give one" to someone in need for every unit that they sell, or the similar business model where a company plants a tree or installs a well, or something for every unit sold.
As the global middle class grows, many more people are willing and able to help those in need, to the point that these large businesses can grow rapidly, and new ones pop up every day.
When people decide between two similar and similarly-priced products, they'll often choose the one that (claims to) provide a social service. While you may not be able to build wells in Africa, you can say that by buying from you, they are helping to fulfill your noble mission.
Religious beliefs aside, this is why you see some pastors or rabbis or whatever fly in private jets. Their donors know they don't NEED it, but they feel they are supporting a bigger purpose.
A great presentation can fall flat and fail if it brings everybody to an unexciting offer.
14) Payment Options
Look in your wallet or purse right now. I'll bet there's at least one credit card in the most accessible (and worn) slots. While credit is neither good nor bad, and is simply a tool, the fact is that people love it, use it, and are drawn to the option of financing their purchases. So let them.
While allowing payments may add some headaches for your accountant, your potential customer base instantly gets significantly larger.
While we're on the topic, if people want to give you their money, give them as many options to do that as you can. Accept credit cards, PayPal, payment plans, and anything else that works.
In some cases, accepting payments instead of the full amount can lead to comfort with recurring payments, and may encourage them to sign up with your subscription products.
Accept as many alternate forms of payment as possible.
13) Bonuses & Added Value
While we've already discussed generally offering "more" as an offer sweetener, bonuses and added value deserve their own discussion. Particularly useful for re-sellers, bonuses allow sellers to sell special and unique packages of standard products.
For example, if you sell Hydro Flask canteens (hot right now) just like many others do, then you could offer a custom accessory or a Hydration & Health guide, only if they buy from you.
Of course, bonuses work great if you're selling your own products and services as well. If you're a gym, you can throw in free personal trainer sessions, or if you sell laptops, you can throw in a mouse, mouse pad, laptop stand, and such. Car salesmen are also great at this.
Bonuses and added value work best when the bonus is just as appealing (or more) than the main item, and if the bonus helps the buyer to fully utilize the main item or accomplish its goal.
Most launch failures are from failed offers, not failed products.
Look in your trove of your travel memorabilia and I'll bet you'll find a mini license plate, a key chain, a luggage tag, or something else with your name on it, from some faraway place. Would you have bought that mini license plate if it was blank? Of course not, and neither would I.
The point is that people of more drawn to an offer of any kind if they feel it has been tailored, trimmed, cut, developed, and grown JUST FOR THEM. Or for people just like them.
Find a way to make every offer you make seem to be crafted specifically for that prospect. You can do this with multiple offers, different products, or tailoring your process or product.
One way to do this is by targeting your prospect's ideal self-image. This means if your prospect is getting into running, then you could say "this product helps serious runners to ______". Many of those people will think "well I'M a real runner now, or I will be soon, so I should buy this."
For most people, buying is the easiest way to feel like your making progress toward your goal. Wishful thinking often comes along with wishful purchasing. That's why many new golfers and gym-goers end up with a garage full of unused gear, or an equally unused gym membership.
11) Make it Urgent
The absence of a deadline conveys that your offer is always available.
Urgency is probably the most single most important and powerful component of your great offer. Even if your offer is great and you've properly countered our natural instinct to wonder what could go wrong, you'll then have to face the equally-strong human instinct to do nothing.
That's because we naturally fear change of any degree, so our base response to any external input is to stay put. Even if they like what they see or hear, from the perspective of the prospect, the easiest and safest option is to do nothing and NOT buy what you're offering.
Whether you limit your free gift to the next hundred buyers, or you open five client spots, find a way to encourage your prospect to act NOW.
Your life is a limited time offer.
10) Speed (Delivery & Results)
Now we'll address the other half of the powerful "fast and easy" offer. I said that "easy" is more catchy but really, "fast" and "easy" make many of the same promises and are often paired.
Six-pack abs? In 24 hours? If I believe they can deliver, I'm buying, and so would you. Including speed selling-points in your offer work well because:
1) Rightfully or wrongfully, people tend to equate "fast" with relatively "easy"
and 2) Even if we think we will suffer (temporarily), the result and time frame seem worth it.
So incorporate selling speed throughout every part of your offer, including fast: payment, delivery, process time, and of course, results.
9) Discounts & Sales
If you don't know about JCPenney's CEO disaster of 2011, it's is basically that JCPenney hired the guy who designed the Apple store as their CEO. He brought ideas with him about simplifying JCPenney storefronts, similar to what he did for Apple.
His main idea was to do away with advertising coupons and sales. Essentially, NOTHING WOULD CHANGE AT ALL except for less "sale" junk-mail and less sale signage around the stores. Sales prices still occurred, they just weren't advertised. Well, sales tanked, and he was fired in less than two years.
The point is this: PEOPLE LOVE THE WORD "SALE". But more importantly, they like feeling smart, like they somehow "won" the deal against the store, or paid less than others have paid. This is why almost every store, in every mall, everywhere has a "sale" sign in front of it. Check it.
Of course, some people are moved more by a "sale" than others. If your offer involves Gucci, fire alarms, brake pads, or heart surgery, your customers likely value quality over any discounts.
When considering discounts in your offers, consider your target market, the importance of quality to your customers, and the image you want to portray for your product and/or business. While discounts may provide a quick hit of sales, they often lead to lower profits and worse customers.
8) Free Gift
Offer a free gift for quick replies.
Similar to "fast" and "easy", another word people are naturally drawn to is "free." Sounds innocent and reasonable enough. No money spent, no risk, right? While nowadays you can find countless articles about "the real cost of free", people are now only a bit more hesitant to engage.
There are two primary ways to incorporate "free" into your offer:
1) A "free" gift up front, to get them in the door
and 2) Buy X, and get a "free" Y included (similar to a bonus)
In both, explain how you are only able to "give away" such an amazing free gift because you (insert reason here). At first, they will feel smart like they got one up on you, but you ultimately win, because you got their attention. If too low a percentage of them take the free offer or eventually buy, then the problem lies more in your offer and who you're targeting.
The downside of using free gifts is that you're bound to attract guaranteed non-buyers. It's up to you to find the proper balance between up-front value and strategic targeting and filtering.
A money back guarantee is a great way to take away objections, but the idea of offering a bonus that they can keep soups it up quite a bit.
The Ultimate Sales Machine
7) Trial / Test-Drive
Test drives, free trials, fitting rooms; all of these are tools businesses use to get you to buy. Most consumers know these tactics are being used but they often think they won't affect them.
Until they fall in love with the puppy and keep it for the next 15 years.
Most people are wrong because interactive demonstrations such as test drives trigger predictable behavior in humans, including several cognitive biases that affect our decisions.
One cognitive bias that works against us is the Endowment effect, which basically means that we overvalue things when we own, have a connection with, or are trying them on.
Another is Loss Aversion, which means that once we feel something is ours, we feel worse about losing it, than gaining it ever felt good.
So find a way to let your prospects "test drive" whatever you sell, before they have to buy it.
Few will cheat those that offer a square deal.
6) Human Connection & Community
It's no secret that humans evolved to be cooperative, social animals. This is partially why solitary confinement often drives prisoners mad. While Dunbar's number argues that humans evolved in communities of 150 people or less, most people have far less close friends than that.
Which is one of the reasons that we all crave a sense of community. Of people who think like us, share our aspirations, and inspire us. This is why you should include community in your offer.
Creating a sense of community can range from the people on your email list, to the members in your Facebook group, to the attendees of your conferences, and more. The more you enable members to interact among themselves, the less involvement will be required from you.
Targeting their ideal self-image also works here, as you can let them know they are joining a community of something like "self-starting individuals, who don't take no for an answer".
5) Sell Futures, NOT Features
While you've probably heard the phrase "sell the sizzle, not the steak", most people still resort to selling features over benefits when trying to offer, sell, or persuade someone.
This means talk less about you car's new tires, moon roof, and four-wheel-drive, and talk more about freedom, prestige of ownership, safety, and family bonding, if you aim to sell them. Clearly, car companies caught on long ago and seem to only sell the ideas of fun and family.
The same applies to most other products including beer, restaurants, jewelry, gyms, smartphones, and everything else, including even gasoline and dish soap. View any modern ads and they will sell safety, fun, friends, dates, and just about everything else besides their features.
Your safest opening is your prime benefit and offer…an instant statement, instantly comprehensible.
Of course, some companies push it, and after looking at, or by the end of their ad, you still don't know what the hell they sell or what their offer is.
The point is that when making an offer, don't discuss what your product or idea is made of, but instead discuss the great future it will provide them with. Don't sell the ingredients in the salad, or the machines in the gym, but instead sell a supportive community, and a great new life.
4) An Over-the-Top Guarantee
Also referred to as risk-reversal, guarantees are a critical part of an irresistible offer.
Put simply, the amygdala in the human brain hardwires us to look for (and often find) the danger, lie, twist, or "catch" in everything we hear and see. This means that we can't help but wonder what if something goes wrong, any time we come in contact with anything new.
That being said, you have several tools you can use to counter this human tendency when you make your offers. The most effective tool at your disposal is the guarantee. If you're not sure about that new phone, TV, or software, wouldn't a 1-year 100% money-back no-questions-asked guarantee make you more likely to give it a shot? Of course it would, as it would for anyone.
Now, of course, you are not going to be able to offer that exact guarantee every time, but you need to counter the human brain's fear of "what happens if I something goes wrong?".
Whether you want someone to buy your trinket, or you want your kid to come down from that tree, you'll have to let them know there will be no negative consequences to them doing what you want. Or if you can, that not doing what you want is an even worse course of action.
Offer the longest, strongest guarantee in your industry.
3) Justify Your Offer
If you have a genuine great offer, you've sold the benefits instead of the futures, and you've provided a great guarantee, their human brain will naturally start to wonder HOW and WHY you can are in a position to make such a unique and great offer. To be fair, that's not always a bad idea.
This where you justify how you can uniquely make such a great and unique offer. You can do this this in several ways, and your main goal is to explain why this and especially why now.
Walk around a mall or watch some infomercials for plenty of examples of how to explain "why this, and why now?". You'll see and hear explanations such as "to make room for new stock", "the distributor made a mistake", "because of this brand new, revolutionary ____", and many more.
Your prospect has seen many offers before, so you will need to pacify that fear by explaining the very rational reason as to why you are uniquely able to make this great offer now.
In fact, the worse the offer seems to your side (the bigger the loss you may take), the better a reason you'll need to explain why you can and are willing to make/offer it.
Include a compelling “reason why” you’re offering that deal...The best prospects are the most skeptical because they have read and responded to more offers than most. They are aware they are reading an advertisement, and are constantly scanning the ad for clues in favor of and against its credibility.
2) Bundle Your Goods
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but the point is that people are drawn to bundling. This means most people will upgrade to the bundle if it's cheaper than not bundling, even if they don't need or even want half the things included in the bundle. It's pricing psychology at it's finest.
"But what if I only sell one product?" That's easy, sell more than one product. There are many reasons to do this, but the ability to bundle them is a great one on its own.
"But what if my offer is an idea?" Also easy, bundle that idea with more great one that will come attached. If you're a politician or economist selling your idea, or just arguing in a bar, you can better convince someone to agree by showing them that by "buying" one idea, they are also showing that they buy into a group of other great ideas.
You could even bundle products AND ideas. If you're offering a gym membership, you could bundle some free personal training sessions, and the fact that "by joining XYZ gym, you show the world you are motivated, powerful, and independent." Boom, you bundled products and ideas.
1) Ease of Enrollment & Ownership
When we want something, there are two words that make almost anyone buy (if they believe it). Those words are "fast" and "easy". They're the modern consumer's dream descriptors.
Here, we'll focus on the "easy" because (I believe) it is more persuasive than the "speed" part. This is because humans at rest tend to (want to) stay at rest. Our natural state is inaction. Also, experience shows me consumers prefer "slow and easy" to "fast and difficult" in most cases.
This means whether we like it or not, our human brains are naturally drawn to those options that seem easiest, in comparison to similar options, to reach a desired result. To be fair, why would you not want the easiest option? After all, the opposites of easy are hard and inefficient.
A good tax lawyer? A juicy burger? Six-pack abs? If you are in the market for one of these, and they convince you that buying with them makes it "fast and easy", the deal is as good as done.
So when crafting your offer, make sure everything about buying from you seems as easy as possible, from signing up, to paying, to getting started, to achieving results, to customer support.
The irresistible offer is an identity-building offer central to a product, service or company where the believable return on investment is communicated so clearly that it’s immediately apparent you’d have to be a fool to pass it up.
This post contains affiliate links.