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Stop offering price cuts to get customers

July 6, 2010
Image of Tommy Cooper

"Doctor, Doctor, it hurts when I do this" - meaningless price offers and cuts do little to help company performance

In today’s tightened business market, buyer experience is more important than ever before. The days of simply churning out products of suspect value and then throwing discounts at them to get them to shift have gone. People are more sophisticated than that.

Yet I regularly receive emails and flyers from companies who place the price discount at the forefront of their message – even BEFORE I have had the chance┬áto assess the value. I don’t get beyond the headline: “save 25% if your order in the next few days”. Why not? Because the saving should be┬áthe final inducement to buy and not the foremost. And besides, if the product sounds good enough, I might just buy it at FULL PRICE.

Yet the deluded carry on. Misled by their “experience” as marketers, they believe that price cuts and offers are the way forward. But if their business strategy is ALWAYS price cuts and offers, then a strange thing occurs.

Customers still read through the company’s emails and letters and eventually alight on something they want – they really want – and pay less for it. That’s right – they pay a lot less for something you could have made a good profit on.

So the result of such a strategy is to create price-buying customers who, when they find something they would be really willing to pay a high price for, end up buying at a discount.

If you are in the business of making and selling products, the last customers you want are those who reward you with low profits. The key to successful business therefore is to focus on the buyer experience:

  • what are you telling them?
  • why should they buy from you?
  • what happens when they do business with you?
  • is there any reason why they shouldn’t come back?
  • is there any reason why they should come back?
  • how can you make it so?

An old friend of mine asked me recently what he should do about price cuts in his business. I answered him by referring to the old Tommy Cooper joke: “Doctor, Doctor, it hurts when I do this (lifting of my arm)” (Doctor reply): “well don’t do it then“.

It’s as simple as that.

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