• David Williamson

Should I Have a Sale?

How small business owners can offer a discount and still be profitable in 4 easy steps!



To Sale or Not To Sale.


A comment I hear from small business owners is how they do not do sales. They do not want to use gimmicks to get people to buy their products or services, as they feel it is dishonest. They want to take the high road and always offer the best price possible. I also hear them say how they hate to change their prices every month. Does this sound familiar?


Now more than ever you have to give your customer a reason to buy. The best way to do that is with a sale. Even Mercedes Benz offers financing and discounts during the holidays, and you should too. Let’s take a moment to look at some concepts that will help you offer a discount to your customers, that won't affect your margins, and generate more sales!


The 3% and 7% Rule


One of my favorite sales masters, Chet Holmes (The Ultimate Sales Machine) describes the 3% and 7% rule. This rule states that 3% of the market needs your product or service right now, and 7% can be persuaded to buy today. The other 90% of the market are in various degrees of the purchase funnel.


The First 3%


Most business owners are only capturing the first 3% of the market who is ready to buy now. This 3% drives the daily economy. For example, it rained 4 inches last night and Kevin’s roof is leaking directly onto his king size, Tempur-pedic mattress. Kevin needs a roofing company now! Whichever roofing company answers the phone or Facebook message first wins!


The only way to beat your competitor to the first 3% is with a premium experience which includes lightning fast service.


Only capturing the first 3% of the market is a bad place to operate. It’s not profitable due to competition and inflation. You can tell when a business is operating on the first 3%. They have an old building that smells like mildew, the decor hasn’t been updated since 2004, and their employees view customers as a nuisance.


The Next 7%


The next 7% of consumers are on the fence about your product or service. For example, Bob enjoys mowing his yard, and has had the same tractor lawn mower for 10 years. It still runs great! But Bob knows it takes him forever to mow with his old lawn tractor, and that a zero turn mower would literally cut his mowing time in half. However, zero turn mowers cost significantly more than tractor mowers, and his tractor mower is paid for. The dream of owning a zippy zero turn mower is placed into the back of Bob’s subconscious to live indefinitely.


One day Bob sees a Facebook ad for a brand new zero turn mower. The ad states a $1,000 off discount that ends in 15 days, with low monthly payments available. Bob clicks on the ad and next thing you know, a salesperson texts Bob the details on the mower, and offers Bob a guarantee that if he doesn’t love mowing with the new zero turn mower, he can get his money back, no questions asked.


These three inceptives are just enough to wake up Bob’s subconscious, and change his mind about owning a zero turn mower. The value of owning the zero turn mower has exceeded the price of the mower, causing Bob to purchase. Now, Bob is happy because his yard looks like a professional baseball field, and he has more time to spend enjoying his yard, family, and other leisure activities. For the sake of this example, just look and see how many different financing options Bad Boy Mowers offers! It’s almost endless!


"People buy when value exceeds price."

Only 1% of business owners know how to attract the next 7% of consumers who can be persuaded to buy now. You can tell who they are because they dominate the market. They have the nicest buildings, the newest vehicles, the best customer experience, and the highest ratings. Plus, they invest 10 times more money in their advertising than the next closest competitor does.


These businesses are omnipresent and top of mind. And they own 80 percent market share! How do they dominate 80% of their market? By developing an advertising culture that gives their customers a reason to buy now.


Here’s how to capture the next 7% of the market that can be persuaded to buy now!


Step #1 - Build Your Retail Price


Small business owners will say “I’m already operating at a razor thin margin!”. Your customers don’t know this. We do not discount from your lowest price. You need to build your retail price. This is the price that we benchmark your offer against.


Your retail price is the price that includes all of your overhead, shipping, labor, delivery and setup, etc. (I would not use MSRP as it does not include your overhead.) Note - This exercise disproves the myth that having a sale is a gimmick or dishonest. Your customer does not know that you're already giving them a discount. You need to tell them!


“Your customer does not know that you're already giving them a discount. You need to tell them!"

Everyone loves to get a deal, and consumers need a reason to buy today. So give them one with an offer or sale!


Example of a promotional offer from Kohl's. The fashion industry will offer a sale 52 times a year!


Step #2 Build Your Offer


Once you have built your retail price, you can advertise your discount. It may be you are always selling your product or service at 20% off your retail price. That’s a great reason for the 7% to buy now!


People love to see a percentage off. “Save 20% Today Only!”, or “Get an additional 5% efficiency bonus when you buy today!” The next tactic is a money discount. “Save $1,000 Off Now”, or “Get a $500 cash rebate when you purchase by the end of the month.”


Notice how each offer has a time limit. This helps establish a sense of urgency. You need to set deadlines for your offers or buyers will not care. You can have a “Summer Savings Sale” or even a “24 Hour Sale Only!”.


Step #3 - Advertise Your Offer


Jump on your Facebook page and post a picture of your product or service, and add text that explains your offer. Keep it short and be sure to grab attention. Luckily, when you start flashing percentages off, you will get attention quicker than when you were just posting pictures of your items and saying “we are open”.



Here is an example of Honest Abe Roofing’s Facebook ad for their Summer Steel Savings campaign. The offer is a percentage off.



Here is another example by Premier Auto Source. This ad is for their Truck Madness campaign that has a money offer.


Step #4 - Deliver On Your Promise


It’s not a gimmick if you deliver on your promise. You have provided savings to your customer through a free quote, free delivery, 10% off of your retail price, and a few bonuses like a free oil change or free appetizer. Be sure that all of your staff know what your current offer is so that they can serve your customers.


It’s Time to Have a Sale!


Here is a storefront advertising a percentage off the entire store. Notice the yellow and red color scheme to help grab attention.


Your customers want a deal, and you have been giving them a deal since you first opened, you just never told them. Tell them today!


Make your sales seasonal or base them around specific holidays. Look to the big furniture stores for ideas on seasonal and holiday sales. You should always have an annual clearance event and a new model event.


People love to get a deal! Start to utilize sales and specific offers in your business and advertise them to your customers. You will start to capture the next 7% of the market which is a profitable place to be!

David M. Williamson is the President of POP MKTG and specializes in digital advertising, lead generation, and content marketing. POP MKTG currently manages $1M in digital marketing per year, and has generated over $30M in sales in 2019 for their customers. Send POP MKTG a message if your small business needs help with marketing!


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