So, what makes a great order form?
I’ve got three words for you.
Last things first.
Lots of copywriters tackle the sales letter first.
Some start by writing pages of bullets and culling the best for the headline.
Others prefer building an elaborate outline and filling in the spaces as they go.
But I’m partial to the “last things first” approach by starting with the order form.
Not only do you wind up with a higher converting order form when you focus on it first, but it makes the process of creating the sales letter a whole lot more efficient.
Think of the order form as your destination on a commercial airline flight.
If your destination is Los Angeles, you can get there many different ways. If you fly Southwest Airlines, it might take stops through a half-dozen cities (and several sodas spilled on you) but you’ll get to L.A.
Same with your order form.
That’s the destination your sales letter is taking your prospects, so it pays to know exactly where you’re going first.
But creating compelling order forms — called “coupons” in space advertising — is an art form in itself.
So, I decided to take two examples from a company that sold nearly $500 million worth of info products back in the 1980s, and give you six simple rules you can use for better conversions, whether you’re online, offline or both.
Rule #1: Don’t call it an “order form.”
Call it a “response form,” an “enrollment form” or better yet a “no-risk trial enrollment form,” if that’s the case. This is one of those little semantic finesses that eases the prospect into the sale verses telegraphing that he’s reaching into his wallet.
Rule #2: Make your response form an affirmation and phrase the copy consistently in the first person tense of your prospect.
Like this: “YES! I accept your invitation to evaluate “xyz widget” without risk or obligation. You will send my first installment next week and subsequent ones the first Tuesday of each month.”
And, the reason for this?
The first person tense lets you harmonize with your prospect and is the equivalent of a remote handshake. So, if you’ve done your job in the sales copy, this helps consummate the deal. If, however, your prospect reads the offer first, this will get him into the body copy.
Rule #3: Restate the main benefit, so the prospect is clear about why he’s responding.
Example: “An easy way to take the first step toward amassing a fortune in real estate.”
Also, essential for those prospects, mentioned above, who read the offer first.
Rule #4: Make the terms crystal clear.
This is, perhaps, the most important aspect of your order form, especially if this is your prospect’s first purchase with you. Tell her exactly what’s going to happen and when… sans surprises.
And, if it contains a continuity or till forbid element, then here are three sub-rules to keep in mind.
- Say so.
- Say so.
- Say so.
This can’t be emphasized enough.
After the backlash against hidden continuity over the last few years, it’s amazing some marketers still try to pull this. If you’re a marketer, then you should be looking for more and better ways of building continuity into your offers. Just be totally transparent about it and never bury it in the fine print.
Acquiring and keeping a customer for life is a simple thing. Set the customer’s expectations… meet (or exceed) them… sell them something else. (Rinse and repeat.)
This is the heart of the response form that let’s you achieve this.
Fulfilling what you say when you say sounds simple and mechanical, yet it seems half the business world falls short on this. Just setting and meeting your customers’ expectations places you among the top 10%.
This example of clear terms comes from the Successful Real Estate Investing coupon.
I understand this is a trial enrollment only. Shortly after I receive Lessons 1 and 2, you’ll send me Lessons 3 and 4, which I can review for 15 days before making my decision about the program. If I decide not to continue, I’ll return Lessons 3 and 4 at that time — and owe you nothing. If I wish to continue with the program, you will send me the remaining lessons according to the terms described above.
Rule #5: Don’t overload them with response options.
How many ways can customers respond to your advertising?
- Direct mail coupon
Obviously, this is influenced in part by payment options but the rule is: less is more.
When you give your prospects too many ways to respond, you’ll lose sales.
There’s almost always a predominant way customers respond (when given a choice) and one other way.
If you sell with space advertising, then the telephone is usually the primary way customers respond. Ditto for television. If by direct mail, depending on your market, fax may be the primary way customers respond. It’s important to know this and reign in the options on the order coupon.
Rule #6: Mention other important information.
If you know the hot buttons of your market, you’ve got additional ways to jack up response.
Is your product potentially tax deductible? Then say so. This can be the tipping point for many respondents.
Or how about this scenario?
“If I buy this DVD on Smart Investing, then maybe telemarketers will hound me day and night about mutual funds.”
The great Gary Bencivenga adroitly targets this in the response form with this simple line of copy: “No salesperson will ever call on me.”
So, that’s it for the 6 rules.
I suggest you print out these two print ad coupons and put them on your desktop.
And remember, “last things first.”