The “Killer” Order Form

The Success Margin

Sunday, April 30, 2006


The primary goal of any offer online or offline is, of course, to get an order.

Therefore, the order form should be the very strongest element of any customer offer.

That’s why it’s always seemed so amazing to me that the worst examples of direct marketing are, in my opinion, order forms.

Order forms generally are dull, boring, ugly and unpersuasive.

Today I’m actually going to show you, dear reader, an alternative–how to make yours exciting, beautiful and compelling. And even better still–far more responsive!

** First Step **

Prepare order form first!

Sequence of when you prepare the different elements of your offer, especially the order form,is very important. Reasons?

  1. Keeps offer fresh and exciting. You have not yet run out of emotional gas. If you prepare the sales letter first, as do most, you may have little passion and enthusiasm for the all-important order form afterwards. You can’t hide your feelings. They will show.
  2. Clarity. You will be almost forced into a rare but oh so desirable result for marketers. Instead of confusing the customer, present a clear offer.
  3. Tip: As you create, what I recommend and use myself is this frame of mind. Assume your prospect will read your order form first and not read the sales letter at all. Therefore, your order form must be capable of doing the complete sales job by itself.

  4. Never use the words “order” or “form” as does nearly everyone else. These words are negative and reduce orders. “Order” suggests spending money, which absolutely no one wants to do. “Form” is something no one wants to fill out. Do you?

    Tip: Always use a positive headline for the order form. A few successful ones I use are:

    — Free Trial Request
    — Free Examination Certificate
    — Savings Certificate
    — Membership Application
    — Privilege Invitation
    — Send No Money–Offer Expires in 7 Days
    — Free Audition Certificate
    — Free Preview Issue
    — Official Entry and Enrollment Certificate
    — Request for Free Information

    Tip: Start off the copy with the word “Yes”!It’s the most underused but powerful word in all languages.

  5. Restate the main benefit of the product. Often it’s effective to include two to three benefits of the product. Always restate the benefits, not in your voice, but in the voice of the person responding.

    Tip: Include a statement of acceptance of the offer, including the guarantee, in the voice of the buyer.

  6. Restate the features of the product. A full description including the colors, dimensions, weight and material used in making the product are important in helping build credibility.
  7. Include a professional photo of the product,ideally in full color.
  8. Include a photo of a person–perhaps yourself, the inventor or celebrity–that, of course, fits the offer. This individual should have a warm smile,wear appropriate business attire and be making eye contact with the reader.
  9. Dramatize any gifts or free bonuses you may include within the offer. Photos, strong titles and descriptions really improve response.
  10. Restate a powerful money-back guarantee. The longer and more prominent, the better. For example, 30 days will pull better than 10 days; 60 days pull better than 30; 90 better than 60; 180 days better than 90. One year pulls better than 180 days. A lifetime guarantee is the most powerful of any time period. Always include the signature and title of the most senior person at the company at the end of the guarantee.
  11. Make it stand out, not blend in! Use a different paper and ink colors for the order form than the rest of the mailing or e-mail offer.
  12. Use a fancy border resembling a stock certificate, which adds the feeling of perceived value of the offer.
  13. Print on one side only for an offline offer.Leave the back blank. All my tests show the response is higher.
  14. For offline offers, add the words “Please Print”.
  15. Add a second order form offline. I’ve never seen an instance wherein sales didn’t increase by at least 10% to 20% due to pass-along readership.
  16. Tip: No matter how high a response you get online, your offline response percentage is usually about 400% more. Clearly, many people respond at a higher rate because they retain offers received in the mail for a longer period.

  17. Multiple order options. Since buyers of course vary in their favorite order methods, include toll free phone, fax, e-mail and mail.
  18. Tip: Don’t forget to include all your company’s contact information. You’d be surprised how often even the largest marketers make this basic error.

  19. Test a variety of font color options for headlines and subheadlines (red, blue, purple, etc.), but keep the main body of the copy in black. Black on white is easier to read than
    any other combination except black on yellow.
  20. Include a deadline. Build a sense of urgency to build response. Print a specific date when the offer and price expire. Or print the words “Please respond within 10 days.”

    Be diligent in preparing your order form using these little-known secrets.

    Instead of “ugly duckling” order forms, the result will be a beautiful response mechanism with a far higher response level.

As always, here is to your increased success margin.

Your correspondent,

Ted Nicholas

P.S. The last Success Margin, “7 Magic Words to Happiness” struck a nerve. It drew more reader comments than any previous issue. In this amazing response level, all were positive except for two. Here is a sample:

“Thank you so much for this–you have started,my day, week, month, year, life on the most positive note possible.”–Peter ThomsonU.K.

“Congratulations on your excellent article.Your reply to the question, ‘How are you?’ is ‘Better and better.’ Your answer is the truth. I have known you a long time (Wow! More than
30 years!) and you are always upbeat. The 7 Magic Words to Happiness, the way you live your life and the joy and happiness emanating from you truly are…in a word…Magic!”–Bob Steiner Past President Society of American Magicians Hercules, CA

“Just wanted to report I’ve been saying those 7 words lately and things are actually turning out much better. Can never be too sure if it’s the words or just karma, but just thought I’d let you know.”–Shireen S.

“Thank you for the refreshing Success Margin.I agree with every word you wrote. I am living proof you can be happy in the middle of chaos from every angle.”–Asma

“Dude, that ROCKED.”–Dwayne O.P.

“Isn’t it great how special things turn up at the right time in one’s life. Indeed this is one of those special things. I appreciate your sharing this gift.”–Andrew L.

“I let ‘stinkin thinkin’ cloud my outlook on trivial non-essential stuff. I’ve spent too much there in recent years. As a result not surprisingly is that my health, emotional state and wealth all decline.”–Virginia

“Thanks. Your e-zine came at the right time. I’m feeling my lousiest ever. Sometimes it is inevitable to experience your worst and to have such low self-esteem. Your words did help me a bit and I will try to recover using this phrase.”–Eidel W.

“I just broke out of a relationship yesterday and I know it’s a lot of emotional trauma. But reading The Success Margin today really brightened my countenance instantly. Today I’m going to love my life! Thanks. You’ve done more than you could imagine.”–Adediji O.

“I needed that. And it came at the right time to make me realize that it is my negativity that is the cause of so much stuff going on in my life at this time. So I choose to love my life even with outstanding bills, insecurity, car acting up, bank accounts running dry and no income coming in. Come to think of it, I am blessed. I live in the tropics and even as I write I see the stars out my window and hear the buzzing of crickets.Today I’m going to love my life as I will when I wake up fresh tomorrow. Thank you so much.”–Miriam H.

“I thought you might like the following quote from the Bible:

‘Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.’Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.’
Proverbs Chapter 18—from the message (The Bible in Contemporary Language) by Eugene H.Peterson.”–Lew W.

“You are way off base. I completely disagree with your viewpoint about happiness.”–Herb H.

“Your e-zine came along at absolutely the wrong time for me. I’ve never felt so miserable about my life–especially my unemployment problems. Yet you have the audacity to suggest that I think positively. Your ‘better and better’ response is patently absurd.This viewpoint comes across to me as both arrogant and patronizing. I do believe you should
be more sensitive to your readers.”–Phillip P.