Messages and subtext
My wife received an offer from a local restaurant via Facebook. It was an incredible offer, genuinely worth around 90% off the price of a meal for two, with no strings attached. The problem with the offer, was that it was too good. The cost cutting was too steep.
Because of this, the special offer message carried a subtext: A message behind the surface message of the amazing offer.
The first thing my wife said after reading the offer was, ‘that offer sounds like an act of desperation’. She then called me to look at her Facebook account, where her friends who had already been sent the offer, were already chatting about the imminent demise of the restaurant. The restaurant was then on Facebook, trying to reassure people they were not going broke, which made things even worse.
Poorly crafted offers can backfire
The reason this offer created so much negative attention, is that the subtext of the special offer spoke far louder than the actual message. The over generous discount caused people to assume that the restaurant was in trouble. The net result of that offer is that their customer base are openly discussing alternative venues, now this one is probably going broke.
In reality, the day before the restaurant made this offer they could have been in a strong position. Today, they are scrambling around Facebook almost begging people to come back. This now DOES make them look desperate and reinforces the (probably false) assumption, that they were in financial trouble when they made the very special offer
If you are thinking of slashing prices or offering to give free consultations, consider how your offer looks to the marketplace. Does it look like a generous offer from a financially strong business or the final, desperate actions of a business on the brink?
The price slashing problem
Generally, you are more likely to experience this type of problem, when you use price cuts as your special offer. This is because, when something is in great demand, there’s no need to slash prices. As a result, especially if the price reduction is big, people often assume there’s no demand. Such offers seem less like a regular marketing move and more like a panic measure.
As a general rule of thumb, you tend to find far fewer problems with special offers, which are based around providing additional value, for the same price or fee. These offers are usually a lot more profitable too, as the price or fee isn’t being heavily reduced. Price slashing also trains prospective customers to wait for the next offer, making it a lot harder to sell anything at full retail.
In short: Before using a special offer, think about the way the offer will be seen from the perspective of your customer / client and the wider marketplace.