Which of the following offers would pull the most traffic to your business? “Half-Off”, “Buy One, Get One Free” or “50% OFF”? Did you guess, “Buy ONE, Get One FREE”? Studies show that this phrase produces 36% more in sales than the other two phrases. Getting something FREE is much more powerful than getting a discount when buying a product. Even though all three offers are the same dollar amount to the customer, the perception of the three offers is very different. With a discount there is still the perception of paying something. With free there is a perception that you are paying for one product but not paying for the additional product. That gives the total purchase a higher perceived value.

Bringing In Sales

In today’s blog I want to explore how to use different kinds of offers in your advertising too not only bring in more customers but also to increase sales. What is the purpose of advertising? Most of the time it’s to generate a response from a customer. To make them interact with your business in some way that will result in a sale and an ongoing relationship with that customer.

Offers do not always need to be costly. Many can be down at little or no additional expense to your ad budget. Here are some suggestions for various offers that can be used in a variety of business situations.

Finding Qualified Customers

One function of advertising is finding qualified paying customers — not lookers. An offer in your ad can produce qualified customers if you do it correctly. If you are a contractor you might offer a free pamphlet,  “What You Should Know Before You Pave Your Driveway.” People who are ready to do this or at least thinking about it should be the only people calling you. If you are a designer it might be, “Thirteen Things To Know About Room Design.”

Packaging Products or Services

Fast food restaurants have been doing this one for years. Ever had a “value meal” at McDonalds? Burger, fries and a drink are the most commonly ordered items so why not package them together and make them more of a value to the customer. What products or services can you package and make more attractive to potential customers?

Bonus To The Customer

This technique is commonly used when time is a factor. You need customers fast or need to stimulate cash flow. A bonus is usually an incentive to act now or you will miss out on something valuable. When I worked with one of the largest electronic retailers in the nation, we started a sale every Thursday that ended every Sunday.

Customers had four days to act or lose out on the sale items. In many cases your suppliers can provide giveaway products you can use for this kind of promotion. You might also be able to get some co-op advertising help as well. Check with your suppliers for any help they can supply to help you.

Premium Incentives

Unlike bonuses “premiums” are usually something that may cost you and reduce profit. Premiums are usually used to build a long time relationship with customers. They are usually nice gifts and may be a “loss leader” to the company but can lure a customer away from a competitor for a look at something different. Obviously this is one that you must research very carefully before doing it. You don’t want to spend a weekend giving away the store and not gaining any customers for your time, money and effort.

These are just a few of the many possibilities that are out there. Some final suggestions would be to contact your counterparts in other states and see what they have tried and what has worked well for them. Ask them to send you copies of their ads or flyers. Also contact associations for surveys or success stories in their publications.

Some Final Thoughts

And most importantly, start a file on every competitor. What, when, where, and how are they advertising. What did they do this year? What did they do last year at this time? They may run the same ads at the same time each year. How many customers would you take out of the market by running their promotion the month before they normally do? Something to think about isn’t it?

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