How to Use Freebies and Discounts to Drive Business to Your Web Site
Depending on what kind of a business you are in, freebies, discounts and other kinds of deals can be a great way to bring in more business or they can sound a death knell for your company. How do you know which to choose and what will work and what won’t? Read on and I’ll tell you:
Why freebies are (usually) a bad idea
As a general rule, I don’t like offering free stuff, especially when you are running a small business. The problem is that there are too many web sites devoted to scouring the Internet for free stuff – whether it’s a free sample of a laundry detergent, a free candy bar or a free gift certificate, the problem with these things is that most of the people grabbing them will never convert to quality customers – they will only be interested in these free things because they are in fact free.
Not only that, but as a small business owner, you could actually go broke by offering free stuff. People who read about a free candy bar will go crazy – there are people who literally have dozens of addresses set up where they can get free stuff and they will spam you with requests, grabbing 100 of your free chocolate bars for example. Now imagine that it’s not one person but a couple of hundred doing that. Not to mention the thousands of people who will be honest and grab just the one. The cost of the product and the shipping will quickly bankrupt you and you will get almost no viable customers from it.
So why do big business still do these giveaways?
It’s simple – they’re not looking for customers, but instead they are looking for buzz. If Tide gives away a million samples of their newest detergent and people use it, they’ll tell their friends who will then go out and buy the stuff. In the long run, it will pay off for them, but that’s only because they have the deep pockets to lose money on the free stuff. You don’t.
The exception to the rule
There is however one exception to this rule. If you are offering some kind of a virtual product – for example, you are a singer who is offering your services at weddings and bar mitzvahs, or you are a photographer or even a writer, there is a value in having free samples available for people to see on your web site, because they don’t have to contact you to ask for the samples. This will increase your business prospects, however you need to be careful that what you do offer doesn’t give away the farm. If you are selling information for example, give a taste of valuable information but don’t tell them everything. In addition, you need to be careful not to break your bandwidth allocations or you will end up spending a fortune for overages.
So what does work?
The possibilities are endless, however some common ideas that are proven to bring in business are:
Discounts – a 10% discount is usually one that a business can offer and still make money so don’t be afraid to offer one in order to drive more business to your site.
BOGO – This stands for Buy One Get One and it’s most commonly offered as a buy one get on free deal, however you can also use the same concept for buy one, get one half off or buy one and get a free gift (i.e. buy this expensive watch and we’ll throw in a matching pen which we had manufactured just for the purpose – the watch is a $400 watch and the pens cost you $1 each to manufacture in bulk, but it’s a great marketing gimmick).
Members Only – Nothing attracts people more than memberships. There are two kinds of memberships you can offer your customers in order to drive business:
Exclusive You can offer them an “exclusive membership” so that you appeal to the snob in all of us who wants to be better than anyone else. This works best for high end products which will have genuine appeal for someone who wants to seem better than others.
Savings There’s a reason that big online retailers like Overstock and Amazon have special discounts for members: Put simply: they drive in more business. The cost of the membership itself isn’t important and frankly, they could afford to offer the membership for free and give people the 5% discount or expedited shipping as part of the free membership. However, when people have paid for a membership, they are more likely to want their money’s worth and so they will tend to shop at that store, even if someone else has the same thing for cheaper. It’s a psychological thing – “I paid for this membership dammit and I’m getting my money’s worth or else!”
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