How To Make A Godfather-Offer

I’ve never actually seen ‘The Godfather’.
Or read the book.

I know, I know, I haven’t lived. :)

But I’ve lived long enough to understand the concept of a Godfather-offer.

Namely: To make a offer that simply cannot be refused.

Cannot be refused?

Does such an offer exist?

Yes, it does, but only once you become the Godfather, capite?

But that doesn’t mean you can’t ‘play’ Godfather for now, and still get great results.

So how do you play Godfather?

Let’s vamoose to Karen’s company in downtown Auckland. One Wednesday, Karen made her Godfather-offer.

She offered her clients the chance for a free massage. And gave the clients the option to come in on Friday or Saturday.

To qualify for the massage (which was being given by trainees), you had to email back at lightning speed.

First come, first serve, it said. You snooze, you lose.

I lost!

I didn’t see the Godfather-offer till at least an hour later after it was sent.

Of course, since it was so powerful and F-R-R-E-E-E, I decided to take my chances anyway.

“Too late!” I was told. I’d missed out on the chance to get the complimentary massage.

“Darn!”, I thought to myself.

But the ‘darn’ word didn’t stay in my mind…

Not for long, at least. Because Karen did a really smart thing.

She did a semi-Godfather.

In effect, her email said, “If you missed the first offer, please don’t be mad. Since the free massages are booked, here’s another offer. Pay for one. Get one free. And you’ve got two weeks to make up your mind.”

Now the part that’s really vital, was that Karen didn’t email this offer to everyone, but only to those who’d shown interest in the first place. Only to those who’d emailed back.

Kaboom! Karen’s follow-up email triggered an instant response

The Godfather effect kicked in yet again. And Karen was getting bookings right away. Customers, like moi, who’d not done the massage-thing for months, were now showing up like bears after a long hibernation.

So how do you get customers out of their hibernation?

You make a Godfather offer. And you take the steps below to make the offer work.

1) The Godfather-offer needs to be a bonus, not a discount.
2) The Godfather-offer needs to be extremely compelling.
3) The Godfather-offer needs to have a clear deadline.
4) Plus one little added factor that will make the offer more effective than ever before. (Read on!)

1) Bonus vs. Discount:

Wasn’t Karen giving a discount when she offered a free massage?
No she wasn’t.

You see, there was a solid reasoning behind it.

There were trainees at stake. So if you can justify why you’re giving something free, you’re going to have customers swarming all over you.

But surely the one-paid-one-free was a discount…

It’s a matter of semantics, but strictly speaking, when you offer 50% off anything, you’re actually discounting.

And discounting means that you’re devaluing the product. A client who buys at 50%, will expect to receive the product/service at the same discounted rate in the future.

But a bonus: Namely that of one-paid-one-free is an add-on. A bonus is a gift. In tests conducted, customers put a much higher value on when bonuses were offered, even when it was more than apparent that the offer value was exactly the same. (Don’t trust me or the tests. Try it out for yourself).

2) Is your offer compelling?:

If the product/service you’re offering as a bonus is a throwaway, it will not be snapped up at all.

In the Godfather, if you didn’t do what you were told, you’d be dead, dead, dead. That’s a compelling offer, eh?

You need to offer your clients a report, a system, an audio that would make them a considerable amount of money, get more customers or increase efficiency!

If you make some wimpy offer, you’re going to get a wimpy response, or none at all.

3) Zee deadline is everything

If there’s no urgency, the best offer in the world goes kaput.

There’s no need to act, react or do anything for that matter.
So be very clear to put a deadline. And put a date.

Two weeks is a vague deadline.
April 15, 2006 is a clear deadline.

4) It’s time to roll out the Godfather offer, Signori e signore!

And before you start rolling out the offer, make sure you have at least 2-3 follow ups in place. While Karen’s comeback offer of one-paid-one-free is outstanding, it doesn’t mean that I’ve signed up yet.

And I may or may not.

Because while her offer is Godfather-like, Karen is not the Godfather. Which means her business is not top of mind. To make it top of mind, she needs to remind me at least twice before the deadline rolls along.

And finally on the day itself she needs to tell me that the offer is going to expire. As in die. L’estremita.

And that’s when my brain will kick in, and take up the offer.

Because as Don Corleone in the Godfather would suggest:
It’s just too hard to refuse.

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  1. says

    We use the 2-3 follow up emails to fill our workshops. Very few people respond to the first email. The majority of people respond on the last possible day when the last email is sent. You need the urgency of “Respond Right Now or you will miss it” to get people to finally commit, even if they have been planning on going to the workshop all along.

    Frank Kern’s 4 day cash machine follows the same principle.

  2. says


    I missed this one somehow. Very clever strategy – I’ll have to think about applying this to something.

    And talking of Godfather offers…it’s about time you created another Godfather offer 😉

  3. Paul says

    This is one the most refreshing topic I’ve read today. I am
    a newbie in the whole concept of marketing and branding. So I am
    very delighted to have read this post. Thanks.


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