Are Your Special Offers Working?
27th October 2009
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Many of you’ve put special offers on your features or in thebestof door drops.  At a recent regional meeting of thebestof, we shared valuable insights into what kinds of special offers work.  If you aren’t getting the results you want from your special offers read on.  There are five key aspects to special offers.

1. Offer must have significant value to the customer
2. Make the value of the offer obvious
3. Upsell, cross sell or get repeat custom from those who take up the offer
4. Your offer needs to be clear, simple and easy to understand
5. You need a time limit on your offer

Let’s take those in turn:

1. Offer must have significant value to the customer
A special offer should offer significant value to the customer.  Customers will recognise a good offer and act if they perceive they’re being offered a genuine discount, reduction or freebie that they value.  Customers are sophisticated and they can smell a lame offer.  What are lame offers?
5% discount and Free Delivery are not perceived as very high value unless either i) the item costs a large amount of money e.g. a new kitchen or ii) the delivery costs would normally be high e.g. for furniture.  With major retailers slashing prices up to 70%, 5% just sounds a bit mean.  If you have a high value item, it’s probably better to state the amount of money saved e.g. £250.00, rather than saying 5% off.

Free quotations are another poor special offer.  They won’t bring you much interest because most businesses, especially in the trades, routinely offer free quotations.  There’s not much in it for the customer.

You need to be careful with BOGOFs (buy one get one free offers).  If customers don’t really want or need e.g. two necklaces, even though you are giving something away, it isn’t necessarily of significant value to the consumer.  The exception with this example might be at Christmas. 

Tesco’s new Buy One Now; Get One Later
It’s always worth learning from the big boys.  Tesco recently announced they are testing a Buy One Now; Get One Later scheme at some stores.  When you buy one item, you receive a voucher for the second item which you can bring back to the store and use later.  This is in an attempt to reduce waste.  Would this appeal to you? Can you offer anything similar for recurring purchases? 
A good BOGOF is where things naturally come in pairs e.g. Buy one meal get a second meal free between 6 and 7pm Mon to Thu.

Free reviews likewise don’t sound very valuable.  A review of your security system or windows can feel to the customer like an excuse to get onto their premises and then sell them something.  The exception might be a web developer who’s offering a review of a website’s performance in the search engine rankings.  If this is an in-depth report specifically about the customer’s website and would normally cost £75 then that is of value to the customer.  It is also something which is done remotely.  This brings us nicely to point number two.

2. Make the value of the offer obvious
If you’re offering anything as a freebie, it is important that the customer knows the value of the freebie.  So if you’re offering ‘Free function room hire when you book catering for a half day event’ , make sure you add the value of the room hire.  ‘Free Function Room hire (worth £45.00) when you book catering for your half day event at The Getaway Hotel’. 

Sometimes we just mention the discount without saying what the product or service costs.  So if you’re offering £150.00 off say, permanent make-up, tell them how much the treatment normally costs.

3. Upsell, cross sell or get repeat custom from those who take up the offer
The amount you slash off your profit margin can be seen as a marketing cost as long as you follow through.  If someone uses the voucher but doesn’t come back then you have just taken a hit on your bottom line.  You need to have a strategy for how you will turn that introductory sale into regular business.  Or if an existing customer picks up the voucher, how can you get more business from them?

• Upsell - if you’re offering a discount on one type of lock, you could also offer a more expensive lock for better security.
• Cross sell - if you’re offering £150.00 off permanent make up, offer another treatment when they book e.g. a facial to make sure skin is deep cleansed first. 
• Get repeat custom - if someone has come in with a voucher for a hair appointment.  Ask them if they’d like to book their next cut when they leave.  You can mention that evening appointments get booked up and they can always ring and change it later. If you’ve offered 15% off a restaurant meal, why not ask customers if they’d like to be kept informed of special theme nights in future.  If yes, ask for their details and send out regular mailings, once a month is fine.  If you’re on Facebook or another social networking site tell your customers so they can join up.  If you’ve completed one job, make sure the customer knows of other services you offer e.g. replacing doors, tiling, plastering etc.
If you follow through on these offers the cost of the offer can be seen as a marketing expense and an investment in growing your business.  Once you get new customers, turn them into regular customers.

4. Your offer needs to be clear, simple and easy to understand
You may have a great offer but if it is worded badly people may be unsure what the offer is and how to get it.  Make sure your headline states the offer clearly and simply.  ‘Free hair colouring (worth £20.00) when you book a cut and blow dry’.  If you have a vague headline e.g. ‘Great offers on gardening items this Autumn’ you have failed to grab attention.  People have to read on to find the offer.  Be specific.
Next, clearly state how people can take advantage of the offer:-
Mention thebestof Cardigan & Teifi Valley and/or thebestof Carmarthen when you ring and book or Bring this voucher with you.

5. You need a time limit on your offer
thebestof recommends your offer lasts for two months.  We know that people hang on to the door drops and so two months gives people long enough to get to your offer.  Any longer and there is no sense of urgency for people.  However do make sure that the time limit is the same on all parts of the voucher and that it is appropriate to the product.  If you’re offer is on Autumn bulbs, then make sure the offer is running in the Autumn.

About the Author

Diana V

Member since: 10th July 2012

I am Diana Vickers, the site owner of thebestof Cardigan & Teifi Valley, which supports the very best of the area’s businesses with their promotions and marketing. The site is soon coming up to its fifth...

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