No One Cares about Free Estimates

Have you ever paid for an estimate? Neither have I. And yet the marketing universe is full of badges, buttons and starbursts proclaiming their benefits:

No one cares about free estimates.

Promoting free estimates is like boasting about offering a toll-free number. It’s simply a cost of doing business, and customers won’t be persuaded to buy from you because of either.

Instead of wasting valuable customer attention with offers of free estimates, give them a unique, persuasive reason to contact you. It’s true that the marketing power of “free” is very strong, so consider free consultations or free upgrades as compelling alternatives. By thinking creatively, this one simple change will result in more customers reaching out, interested in your small business.

Groupoff: Why Groupon is Usually a Bad Marketing Idea

Groupon is the group coupon website that features daily deals– if enough customers want to buy the deal, they get a coupon for a 50-90% discount. Otherwise, the deal is canceled. But since the discounts are hefty, and Groupon itself receives a commission, does this medium make sense for most small business marketing plans?

Here’s what Groupon asserts:

  • 91% of Groupon businesses report getting new customers as part of their promotion
  • 9 in 10 Groupon customers spend more than the face value of their coupon
  • 87% of Groupon business owners say their promotion increased their awareness in the community

Notice that Groupon doesn’t say anything about promotions being profitable or resulting in loyal customers who come back to pay full price. I suspect Groupon customers largely fit a profile of the adventurous consumer who likes to try new things at a discount– not exactly the audience to become regulars at your business.

The bottom line? If you have high margins and your main marketing goal is to get bodies in the door, then Groupon (or competitors like LivingSocial) can be effective at that. But if you’re seeking to build a loyal customer base of raving fans, you will achieve better results with other web marketing media.

Sales Promotion FAIL

Sales promotions are a popular part of the marketing mix. Sales promotions can be a great way to build awareness about your brand, reward loyal customers or just eliminate excess stock.

Except this one. It is a sales promotion fail.

I saw this 5% off book at an otherwise amazing independent bookstore in Columbus, OH. If customers don’t want to read Soul Pancake for $19.99, do you think they would be motivated if the price were $18.99? It would be more than a dollar’s worth of hassle just getting that stubborn sticker off the cover. This paltry sales promotion seems calculated to make customers laugh, not buy the book.

When planning sales promotions, make sure the offer is meaningful to the customer. Consider the customer’s context – in a world where Amazon sells a book for 41% off publisher’s list price, offering a 5% discount simply highlights that this bookstore’s prices are higher. This bookstore should not compete on price – they will lose every time. They need to give customers something that Amazon can’t – an experience, a feeling or a relationship.