Steady as she goes

What you say in your advertising really matters. Yes, it really does. Just as you listen to what people say and make an assessment of what kind of person they are, your customers make an assessment of what kind of company you run based on what you say to them in your advertising.

You’ve probably read somewhere that your offer is of utmost importance in your advertising. But if you look through this site, you won’t find your advertising offer mentioned much, and it certainly isn’t one of the Three Pillars of Advertising. Yet you will hear, mostly from direct marketing people, that your offer will make or break your advertising. They say, “Make a great offer and people will beat a path to your door.”

Hey, they’re right, at least in the short-term. Offer a huge discount, and you will get a response. Give something away for free, and people will show up.

But if you do that often and without reason, what will your customers think? I can tell you what I think. I think that if I wait long enough, you’ll have a sale and I’ll get it at a discount. Why buy it now when I can get it for 50% off later? I bet that’s what your customers think, too, and that’s the best case scenario. Worst case is that they think you have an outrageously high mark-up because you can afford deep discounts and freebies.

Now I’m not saying that you should never have a sale or discount your product, but you should only do so for a good reason. If your prices are too high, lower them. If you need more space in your store, then have an inventory clearance. But be careful that you don’t lower the value of what you sell by continually discounting it.

It’s tempting to drive sales by offering some great discount, but resist that temptation. Yes, all things being equal, you’ll buy the less expensive item every time. But how often are things truly equal? Isn’t it also true that you get what you pay for?

Small businesses usually can’t compete on price with national retailers, but they can run circles around the big boys when it comes to service, quality, and truly caring for the customer. Discounting doesn’t send that message, it very often sends the opposite message. Ignore the direct mail and direct marketing guys and use it sparingly.

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