Groupon, Amazon Local, Val-Pak, Comparison sites, Sunday coupons…discounts are everywhere but are not always a good thing. At least not for the small business owners.
It used to be that only high-priced ticket items were shopped. Now, consumers want to shop everything from toilet tissue all the way up to mortgages. If you’re selling to consumers, there’s more pressure than ever to discount your prices. While this can work great in limited circumstances, it is not a great long-term strategy to position your business because it diminishes your brand. Keep at this strategy and you’ll never again be able to sell your wares full price.
Don’t get caught in the endless no-win, price comparison and one-upping cycle. By following these easy-to-implement, affordable steps you’ll never have to give it all away:
1. Keep a customer list – By creating marketing around your existing customers, you won’t have to continually acquire new ones. Because acquisition can be up to 10x more expensive than retention you’ll want to focus on retention marketing. Then, use acquisition to keep your pipeline active as necessary.
2. Strategically offer promotions – There’s nothing wrong with using this strategy as a reward, but NEVER use it as a punishment. For example, including the words “for new customers only” anywhere in a promotion is suicidal. Why? How do you think a loyal customer feels when they see your mass-circulation ad that favors a newcomer rather than them? (And, they will see it). Me? I cringe when I see companies make this mistake. If I’ve been a loyal customer of yours then why aren’t you rewarding ME? Try creating a rewards program or create a communication plan to stay in touch with your existing customers.
3. Category exclusivity is the best strategy – Here’s what I mean: The other day I open up my daily Amazon Local newsletter and to my horror, I saw a former client of mine giving a deep discount. Even more horrifying was that her ad was just below a direct competitor’s ad offering an even deeper discount. Oh my. If you’re going to discount your services, then you must ask for category exclusivity. If you don’t get it, you risk large-scale digital humiliation.
4. Deliver Killer Service – The best way I know to overcome tire-kickers and price-shoppers is to become the preferred supplier. The best way also happens to also be the easiest and least expensive marketing strategy there is! Have great customer services policies in place, hire friendly employees and train them well, know your customers’ names, be flexible and don’t act like a bureaucrat because you think that makes you look bigger. When I hear a small, neighborhood business say something ridiculous that includes the words “our policy” I cringe and walk away – for good.
5. Sell off Excess – Used in this way, you can cut losses and make people very happy! Here’s what I mean: A former client would sell current inventory on amazon.com at deeply discounted prices. This led to consumer buying from there, rather than his own site, or in his retail store. When you do that, you’re undermining your store/site’s success so much so that no amount of SEO spend can ever be profitable.
So, before you think that discounting is your only option – keep in mind the long-term repercussions. Then, use basic retention marketing strategies instead. Fore more information on these strategies, ask for our newest whitepaper: The Three Phases of Marketing Every Small Business Owner Needs to Understand to Be Successful.
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