No one can deny the explosion of Groupon, LivingSocial, WagJag, and the onslaught of other daily deal sites that have permeated our email inboxes. Everyone likes a good deal, but instead of hanging huge PLANT SALE signs in your garden center, you can post a deal on one of these sites and attract the customer to your business before they’ve even heard of you, based solely on how much profit margin you’re willing to sacrifice.
But make no mistake about it: offering a deal on one of these sites usually isn’t profitable in the short term. The real benefit of running a deal is the marketing buzz you’ll generate, and the potential for upsells and repeat customers as a result of the promotion. Before you run this type of deal, consider the following:
What are you willing to invest as an advertising expense?
Just like the costs of printing flyers or catalogs, you need to view the deal as an advertising expense. Most of these deal sites only want to post aggressive deals like 50% off. That’s okay though, because this is an advertising cost and you’re investing in new and repeat customers for the future. Work out what you’re willing to invest based on your marketing budget, and make sure you set buying limits with the deal site accordingly. You can limit quantities per person or overall coupons available, depending on the site. Remember, even if it looks slightly profitable on paper, your overhead may need to increase to meet the demand if your deal catches fire. Some businesses have almost bankrupted themselves by offering overly-aggressive deals with no restrictions. Account for these scenarios before you sign up.
Upsell, Upsell, Upsell!
If you’re not already upselling customers anyway, then add 5 more exclamation points to this heading. Upselling is especially crucial when running a deal, as you can make it profitable quick by adding a few more products to the customer’s cart before they reach the checkout. So keep this in mind when you decide what product to discount. If it’s a product that is usually bought along with other items, then it’s probably a good candidate to feature. When your promotion is running, make sure you physically position your discounted product around items that are frequently bought together, and create signs to encourage these multiple purchases. Make sure your employees are well versed in the art of upselling as well. Signage can only do so much.
Encourage Repeat Customers
There’s no point in running a deal if you don’t get repeat business out of it. You need to devise a strategy to encourage these deal seeking customers to come back. This strategy will be different for everyone. Customers may be impressed by your selection and friendly staff and might return, but that may not be enough. There are so many things you can do to create repeat business. Make a loyalty stamp card. Ask for an email address as part of your checkout process, and then send them your offers on an ongoing basis. Ask for a Like on Facebook. You can even create a system to track how many of these deal customers actually returned.
Set a Reasonable Expiry Date
As a seasonal business, you probably don’t want customers showing up to cash in their coupon 6 months later. You may not even be carrying the product anymore! Plan your start and end dates to coincide with your less busy times, and in a timeframe when you know the product will be well-stocked. However, don’t make the timeframe too short either, and don’t turn away customers who showed up a few days after the expiration.
The companies who have benefited the most from daily deal sites are the ones who see it as a promotional tool, and who have carefully crafted their promotion to maximize the potential for long-term customers. If you have experience running a daily deal promotion, let us know in the comments below!