6 tips on special offers

1: People don’t want to feel cheap… they want to feel special.
Your special offers must make your customers feel special, not insulted. What you are offering should be to a specific group or person. E.g. if you put an ad in the Anglian Times, create an offer that says ‘special offers for Angling Times readers’, other examples are offers that are ‘special’ to members of a club or people attending a show… it’ll give them a feeling of exclusivity.
Do not create offers that will offend customers or make them feel cheap. Don’t make them feel like your offering them something at a cheaper price because they cannot afford it. Your offer should say ‘we want you to have our product at a reduced price because you are special’, not ‘you get this for less because we know you are too poor/ cheap to pay full price’.
2: The upsell/ closing offer.
These special offers are for those that like the product and are on the brink of buying, but need a little push to either buy now, or buy a bit more than they would otherwise. These offers deter potential customers from going else where and should be deep into your site and on specific pages, most likely next to ‘buy now’ buttons. E.g. ‘buy now and get a free hat’; ‘buy 2 and get 1 ½ price’. A typical example of an upsell offer can be seen on Pooch & Mutt’s buy now page, the offer is buy 1 for £9.99, or 3 for £24.99. People who were already going to buy one may buy 3 to get the better deal. These deals can be ongoing. A typical example of a closing offer is something we did for Blue Chip, which was ‘buy a bottle now and get a free hat’. These offers have to have a closing date, as you need to get the potential customer to buy there and then (for fear of missing the offer) instead of going and checking what else is available.
3:Home page special offer.
These special offers are for people who know the products and are looking for a deal. The offer must be a limited offer, with an explanation as to why you are offering, which does not cheapen the product i.e. it’s discontinued/ damaged/ ex-display etc. It’s important to explain why it’s on offer, as customers’ initial expectations of special offers are sceptical, so give them the facts. The important thing is to not cheapen the product with the offer; Blue Chip successfully offered £5 off their products in return for customer participation in product without cheapening their products – customers saw the £5 off as ‘payment’ for their feedback, it did not cheapen the product. Another less ethical example is that (apparently) white goods manufacturers (fridges, washing machines etc) will intentionally dent their goods with a hammer, so that it is esthetically damaged, but works perfectly. This gives them a way to sell ‘damaged goods’ cheap, and shift stock, without cheapening the brand.
4: Make offers definitive.
Offers need to be restricted. Whether you restrict your special offer to 50-people, run it for a certain period of time or only in a certain place there must be limits put in place. By making special offers definitive it causes people to fear they’ll miss out, causing impulse buying. E.g. When we ran the Blue Chip Challenge, it clearly stated that the offer was only valid until September, so people had to act for fear of missing out. There is a big difference between ‘Buy Now’ and ‘Buy Now. Offer ends 12th Jan 2010’ – the latter is much more likely to result in a sale.
5: Make your offer specific People trust facts and dislike hype
  • Bad offer: “Save £££’s” – very vague
  • Pretty bad offer: “Save 20%” – still vague & people don’t like maths
  • Pretty good offer: “Save £40” – OK
  • Good offer: “Save £40. Ends July 30th. Was £100. Now £60.” – Has all the facts, turn sceptics into believers
6: Get something back
Special offers are generally used to sell more products in the short term. However  people are normally willing to exchange their data (such as email addresses) in exchange for a deal, so don’t miss the opportunity to collect the data. You can also use your special offer to try and get customers to recommend your products to a friend and make the offer viral. You could simply have a button that says ‘recommend this to a friend’ where they input the email addresses of their friends. An important thing to remember with this is to play on people’s own motivations. For example, if you were offering a discounted entry into a 5k run the send to a friend email should read ‘Dear Friend A, There is a special offer on today for entry into the xxxxx 5k run. I just signed up, sign up now and let’s see who’s fastest on the day!’. This plays to the friends competitive nature and will be far more effective than, ‘Dear Friend A, There is a special offer on today for entry into the xxxxx 5k run. If you enter today you will get will be entered in a prize draw for some news Nikes’.