Everybody loves a bargain, right? When it comes to building your bottom line, deals and discounts are a great way to attract more sales and move more merchandise, provided you have a well thought out strategy for the implementation of your program. Here are a few ideas for using deals and discounts online to bring customers your way as well as some caveats and warnings about what can go wrong. With a little bit of research and some careful planning, deals can be a great method to drive up your sales and build your business. Read on for all the details.
Before creating any sort of deal or discounting plan, you first need to identify why you want to do so. Are you trying to get rid of your older merchandise? Do you want new customers to know about your business? Do you want your customers to feel a greater sense of loyalty to your brand? Is your goal to win sales back from your competition? Not all discount programs are the same, so you want to tailor them to meet your goals as best you can. You also need to realize that bargains and deals are not always a good thing in the eyes of your consumers. Sometimes deals are welcome and inspire loyalty, but other times, deals may leave your customers wondering if your product is inferior or your business is overly desperate. This is why deals should be offered sparingly, timed well, and created to serve your desired purpose.
Strategies for Deals
When you have identified the reason for offering a deal, then you are ready to starting thinking about the deal itself. You must find a balance between offering a bargain that is beneficial to your customers but is at the same time not so deep that you can’t afford to offer it. If you are offering some sort of a signup bargain or new customer discount, these will probably be a lot better than just your ordinary everyday deal (think about how much the cell phone companies discount phones with new 2-year contracts). You also need to think about how you are going to communicate these deals to your customers. There are quite a few options, so we are going to go over a few in the next few sections.
Why You Should Groupon
I love Groupon, especially for small or very new businesses who are looking to get their names out there. If you’ve never used Groupon before, the idea is pretty simple. You pay Groupon to be one of their daily deal merchants, and customers pay your price for the discount you offer. By way of example, if you run a restaurant, you may offer $25 worth of food for $15. Customers would pay you (through Groupon) the $15 for the deal, and then they use a printout proof of purchase that can be redeemed for the $25 worth of food. As long as you don’t oversell or overextend yourself, which can easily be done by setting limits on your deal before it goes live, this is a total win-win situation. Your customers get a good deal, and you benefit from the fact that Groupon has a ton of loyal followers and fans, even if they have never heard of you or your company. You also have instant sales each time someone purchases one of your bargains.
One of the easiest ways to offer bargains is by adding a coupon code box on your website. You can then provide discounts that expire to your customers in a number of ways, which can also aid your marketing research. How? Offer one discount code on Facebook, one on Twitter, another to customers who actually come into your physical location, and another through something like Retail Me Not. When people place orders in the future, you can make note of how many of each discount code is entered and base future marketing campaigns on which area is most successful. While a simple search will yield several coupon codes in a lot of instances, customers love feeling like they are in on some secret deal by having that mysterious code to enter.
Just about everyone uses some type of social media, whether it be Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook. Why not take advantage of these outlets to promote your deals and bargains? One of the best things about social media is that it is completely free, so you can play around with it and find out what works and what doesn’t to bring more sales your way. You can create discount campaigns that are time-sensitive (“all cashmere sweaters half off for the next 45 minutes”) to bring in a few quick customers that are in the immediate area, or you could also run fun campaigns that will build your fan base (“anyone wearing a blue striped shirt receives 15% off today”). The more creative you are, the more likely it becomes that you will attract attention. Identify your target audience and tailor your social media campaigns to their wants, needs, and likes.
The Old-Fashioned Way
Are print ads dead? Not entirely. Print ads can actually work greatly in your favor, depending on your target audience. An older, wealthier demographic still reads the daily newspapers, so if this is your target audience, why not take out an ad? You can also run E-mail or even U.S. Postal Service mail campaigns to reach the slightly less tech savvy crowd. This would not make sense, however, if you are after 20-somethings who virtually ignore anything that is not online. Just don’t make the mistake of ignore the old-fashioned ways of advertising if these are the best way to reach the crowd that you want to bring into your business. Again, identification of your demographic is everything when making this type of decision.
Timing is everything when it comes to offering bargains to your customers. There are times of year (hello, Black Friday and Cyber Monday) that it almost required by law that you offer a discount in order to compete, but there is also quite a bit of gray area in which it pays to have a good strategy and plan in place. If you offer discounts too frequently, your customers won’t take them seriously. Try to aim for a seasonal sale as well as several different targeted or private bargain times to shore up your loyal customer base. You don’t want to be too predictable, though, or you may find your customers putting purchases on hold to wait for the sale to come along.
A Final Word
Offering deals to your customers is a wonderful way to bring in new business, get established customers to return, and gain an edge over your competition. The most important rules here are to identify your target audience, research how to best reach them, and don’t offer such a great bargain or discount that you cannot physically or fiscally handle it. If you keep these things in mind, you will run a great discount campaign that will help rather than hurt your business. Use the new technologies, but don’t forget the old, and you will be all set.