Coats, woollen trousers, jumpers, scarves and knitted hats are filling the stores. Many shops have sent me emails announcing their Autumn/Winter collection. I take quick look at these messages and then delete them with the intention of maybe visiting their store or website later.
Boden did something different. They offered me 15% off and free delivery if I ordered within 48 hours. I needed some long-sleeved t-shirts and winter trousers so I bought straight away.
Their offer turned me from a browser to a buyer.
Best time to make a sale
The best time to make a sale is when your customer is in front of you. As we all know, it is very difficult to sell something to someone after they have walked out off your store, finished the sales meeting or clicked away from your website.
If you want someone to do something, you might be able to persuade them more easily if you give them an incentive or reward.
On top of your benefits
Your offer is the deal-closer. It is the incentive that you give to your customers to get them to buy now. Your offer is separate and distinct from the benefits that your products give to your customers.
When you buy 3 bottles of shampoo for the price of 2 at Boots, the clean shiny hair you get when you use the shampoo is the benefit and the free third bottle is the offer.
Grab your customers by the lapel
You want to grab your customers’ attention and spur them into immediate action. Your offer will work best if you feature it prominently in your promotions.
Don’t be shy. Tell your customers about your offer on the home page of your website, in your store window, on the envelope of your direct mail, in the subject heading of your newsletters and emails, in the opening of your letters, on the counter of your shop and at the beginning of your sales appointments.
What can you offer?
You can motivate people to buy your product in many different ways. Some of the offers that companies are currently using include:
- £35 discount if you join at the launch event for Athena Networking
- free delivery if you order over £25 at The White Company
- 4 years interest free credit if you buy one of our sofas from DFS Sofas
- a gift of vanity case and 3 samples if you buy from our new haircare range from beautyexpert.co.uk
You can use an offer to incentivise people to do all sorts of things besides buy your products, for example:
- if you try our drama classes for your child, we will give you the first lesson for free from Perform Drama School
- if you use our online services to tax your vehicle, you could win a Seat Ibiza car at the DVLA
- if you disclose your unpaid taxes voluntarily, we will reduce the penalty from 30% to 10% from the Inland Revenue
- if you play golf during the week rather than on week-ends, you will save £10 per game at the Hampstead Golf Club.
Build your brand as well as your sales
Many brand owners worry that their brand will be cheapened and their customers will think less of them if they make them an offer. Yet, some of the world’s most prestigious brands use offers to encourage their customers to buy. Claridge’s, the world-famous Mayfair hotel favoured by heads of state and royalty, has a whole section on their website called “special offers”.
Claridge’s are currently offering two rooms for the price of one to incentivise families to stay with them during the Summer holidays. They include enticing extras such as game consoles, champagne for the grown-ups, home-made smoothies and cookies for the children and a traditional English breakfast for everyone.
This offer will only strengthen the Claridge’s brand. At £525 per night, it is far from cheap. More importantly, it is full of the personal touches and luxury extras that are simply unavailable at ordinary hotels.
Make me your best offer
A good incentive is tailored to your customers and your business. If it is well thought-through, then your offer will help you to build your brand as well as sell your products.
About the author: Margaret Webster is a freelance copywriter (www.pagster.co.uk ). She helps companies to communicate with their customers, employees, investors and other key audiences by writing their websites, intranet sites, brochures and other promotional material. She also writes articles about marketing and corporate communications.
Margaret’s approach is to begin each project by understanding the client company, its objectives and its audience. This has enabled her to write engaging, results-oriented copy for a wide range of audiences as diverse as CEOs of large organisations and track workers on the railway. Margaret wrote Network Rail’s website and an intranet site for one of their employee programmes. She has just completed writing the website for Epigeum, an online training company.