What Makes for an Effective Offer


I heard that a lot in Mexico several years ago, even the signs on the docks for fishing charters or para-sailing said “almost free”. Maybe because I’m always a little suspicious of a really great deal…too good to be true …is most often true in the sense that what you get is what you pay for. An “almost free” parasailing trip that could end with me plunging several hundred feet into the ocean isn’t exactly enticing.


But what is enticing? What makes you sit up and take notice? What are you in the market for? I could have refrigerators on sale today…..do you need a refrigerator?…no? What do you need? Why do you need it? And what will you pay for it? Will you buy it sooner than later if you have a compelling offer in your hand such as a digital coupon, a gift card, or clipped coupons from the paper? You might!

Your offer should be at the least, believable, not a gimmick. Your offer should be substantial enough to be acted upon. If you are a local brick & mortar business that depends on foot traffic, is the offer compelling enough to get your potential customers in the car, drive to your store, park, shop and buy?


The best way to determine a discount is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What would compel you to shop with you? Free? 50%, 30%, 10% off? $10 off, $50 off. Is a dollar sign more compelling than a percent sign? It depends what you do and how you do it.


One of the most common mistakes I see is when an industry savvy business owner sets an offer up that doesn’t show the value. Case in point, a local dentist has an incredible deal on crowns, so they tell me to put that price in the ad. “Is that a good price?” I ask. “Of course!” they say astounded. Don’t I know what the going rate for crowns is these days? Well, no I don’t, I’m not in the dental business and I’ve never needed a crown. But I may need one and how will I know which dentist to choose? I need someone to show me the value. I need the ad to tell me that crowns in the rest of the world cost X amount of dollars, but these crowns are just as good or better and cost much less! So now when I read the ad for crowns my mind justifies the value and may make it more likely that I visit that dental office as opposed to others, because they are “shopping” for me! Hmmm….where else do we see that marketing technique? There’s a progressive auto insurer that promises to give you their rate plus the rates of others no matter what, truthfully, honestly helping you make a decision.


Another common mishap is when a retailer tries to discount a slow moving item to “get rid of it”. I have some news for you, if your customers didn’t buy it the first time around, they’re probably not interested in it even at a lower price and you’ve just wasted your marketing dollars fighting a losing battle.

The best offer is a hot offer, your best selling product, even if it‘s not on sale can be featured in an ad. You’ll see this marketing plan employed by national retailers, a very colorful, glossy flier that looks like everything is on sale arrives on your doorstep. Until you notice that most items are marked with an “everyday” low price! But you were really checking this out because it’s the latest thing, it’s what you want and it looks like it’s on sale. Maybe you will go and pick it up after all, because that everyday low price seems really good! Bring customers in your store with latest, greatest thing that they want. You can have a table full of the slow moving product, discounted, if you wish, but don’t try to drive sales with a dud!


Coupons are hot! They are digital, paper, on your phone, on your computer, clickable, trackable, and unbeatable! Coupons are what the marketing industry calls “Direct Response”. By direct response we mean that your potential customer needs to high-tail to your business NOW, if they intend to reap the reward you are offering. The coupon, however, is only as hot as the offer on it. The best research shows that you must compete in your category if you want to coupon. Dining is one of the hottest coupon categories right now with a minimum discount of 50%. Nothing less will do. Free drinks? Nope. Buy one, get one…been there done that. Dining coupons must be steeply discounted to even get noticed. You have to evaluate if this type of program is right for you. Do you need to fill seats on a slow night? Do you want more lunch traffic? Don’t undercut your regular trade and give it away with coupons, use them to build additional business.

You’ve got the offer figured out, now let the Marketing Team here at Southern Oregon Media Group get it front of the best audience! We are trained to help you evaluate your unique type of business or service. We can provide you with the latest data on business categories, buying habits and trends to keep you ahead of the curve. Let us help you stay on the edge with compelling offers that drive business to your store or website.

We are here to help you be successful everyday!

Lisa Lawrence
Retail Advertising Manager

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