How to Generate Sales AND Inquiries With the Yes/Maybe Offer
By Dean Rieck, direct mail copywriter

Every direct mailer wants to hear from people who are ready to buy. But the reality is that only a certain percentage will be ready now. Most are ready to say, “maybe.” Only a few are ready to say, “yes.”

This is why the Yes/Maybe offer has worked so well over the years. What is the Yes/Maybe offer? You've almost certainly seen the classic Yes/No offer. This is where you ask your prospect to respond positively or negatively, usually by affixing a "yes" or "no" stamp, checking one of two boxes, returning one of two reply forms, etc. This offer creates involvement and usually pulls more response than an offer that does not offer a "no" option.

The Yes/Maybe offer is a variation that lets you make a low-commitment or no-obligation offer. You're happy to get the "maybe" response, which could be for a free trial, product information, introductory offer, etc. And if you get some "yes" responses, that's gravy.

When does the Yes/Maybe offer work best?
Yes/Maybe works well when you're willing to generate both inquiries and sales. There are several variations. If your "yes" is a direct sales offer, your “maybe” can be an offer for information. Or if your "yes" is an inquiry offer that requires a certain degree of commitment, such as an estimate or consultation, your “maybe” can be a softer inquiry offer with less commitment.

One variation I’ve used quite a bit is a Yes/Maybe where both options are essentially the same, but worded differently. For example:

Yes. I want to beautify my home with the EZ Deck system. Please send my FREE EZ Deck Planner and Information Guide which will help me design a professional looking deck in about 30 minutes.

Maybe. I’m not sure if EZ Deck is for me. Please send additional FREE information, including a side-by-side comparison of the leading deck systems so I can decide which is best for my home.

Either choice results in the same information kit being mailed out, but the Yes/Maybe helps qualify the responses and pulls in more people who haven’t made a decision.

Caveat: People put off making decisions. So if you give them a “Maybe,” you should expect lots of people to choose this option. Depending on the offer, you may significantly decrease your "yes" responses. So be prepared to follow up on your "maybe" list.

Why do you think the Yes/Maybe offer works so well?
For any given offer, people run the spectrum from more to less ready to buy. Yes/Maybe gives people who are ready to buy a chance to respond AND it allows those who are not ready to buy a chance to identify themselves and take the next step. It gives the marketing department a list of interested people who are ready for more information, or it gives the sales department a list of people to contact.

How long should you retain a "maybe" who hasn't converted to a "yes"?
That depends on the product, sales cycle, and experience of the company. Like anything else, you have to test and see what your results are. It’s foolish to throw away "maybe" responses without trying to convert them. However, it’s also foolish to continue sending information or calling if the "maybe" database isn’t producing sales.

Are there any dangers of using a Yes/Maybe offer?
The primary danger is being overwhelmed with tire kickers, brochure collectors, fence sitters, and other people who consume mass quantities of marketing materials without ever buying anything. Another danger is not having a plan to follow up effectively. You must always have a plan for how you want to convert "maybe" to "yes" and have all the elements in place before you make the offer.

When should you follow up on responses?
Any time you get an inquiry, follow up fast. People often request information on impulse. So if you make them wait weeks or months to receive your information, they may not even remember asking for the information. The idea is to keep the momentum going and move people along step-by-step from "maybe" to “yes.” Ideally, you should get your information out within one or two weeks. The faster, the better.

---Source: Dean Rieck is a leading direct mail copywriter. For more copywriting and selling tips, sign up for Dean’s FREE direct response newsletter and get a free report, 99 Easy Ways to Boost Your Direct Mail Response.










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