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How to Discount Without Devaluing Your Business

Thoughts on Brand Value

Most businesses have seen a slow down since the recession. Slow weeks and months can become the bane of any small business owners life. So, what is the best solution? Many business owners would tell you, “Have a sale”, but, is that going to do harm, as opposed to good? The problem with sales is the perception they bring to a brand. Either the brand was overpriced to begin with or the quality is too low to sell at the original price. It can become a lose-lose for businesses. The key to discounting without devaluing is strategy. Here’s how:

Identify “why”:

Are you overstocked? Low on sales? Looking for new customers? By determining the logic behind your desire to discount, you may be able to find a strategy that fits it appropriately.

Strategize:

What is the best way to solve your problem both quickly and without profit loss? Evaluate the numbers and determine what will work for your organization. There are two main options when developing a strategy.

Deals:

  • Offer lower prices for pre-orders. This keeps your books flush while still providing quality products/services to customers and highlights the value, not the discount.

  • Feature a free gift with purchase. Everyone loves free stuff! Gifts are a great way to entice first time customers to try your product/service. Again, emphasizing the gift with the service draws attention away from discounting and highlights your organization’s generosity and great customer service.

  • Free shipping. Many people prefer to shop in stores to avoid large shipping fees. Feature free shipping for online orders to maximize customer satisfaction and good will.

  • Combine your services. By offering package deals, you can help your customers get the products and services they need while offering a discount. For example, The NetMen Corp provides combination packages where we are able to offer a discount for customers that purchase multiple services.

The problem with discounts, especially those used long term, is the perception they give to current and potential customers. It can reflect negatively on your business and devalue the products or services you are offering. By finding an alternative to discounting you have a better opportunity to highlight the great aspects of your company without worrying about devaluation.

Notice, none of these “discounts” actually lower the perceived value of a good or service. Price integrity is an asset to any organization so by finding other ways to provide value to customers besides discounting you do not risk losing it. Everyone loves a gift so by giving customers free shipping or a gift with purchase you have the opportunity to gain the goodwill of your customers into future purchases.

True Discounts:

Should you decide that a true discount is the right way to go there are a few strategies to help maintain price integrity and perceptions.

  • Specific product group discounts. Seasonal slumps are a part of business. By discounting specific types of products that align with a slower time of year you can avoid the stigma of discounted products.

  • Customer group discounts. This is a trickier way to discount but it can work. Discounting for the elderly or college students for example can help to draw a new crowd while not alienating those who do not receive them. Military discounts also work this way.

Limitations and Restrictions:

Whatever strategy you decide to imply be sure to set strict time limits and restrictions and do not deviate. By sticking to these restrictions you maintain the understanding that this is not a “lets move old/low quality product off of the shelves” perception. It also creates the assumption that this sale is not going to go on forever or come back around soon. Again, this helps to maintain the image of your brand and perception of your offerings.

Discounts can be a good choice for a business but it is always important to evaluate the other options before settling on the best choice for your organization. By determining the problem you are trying to solve and creating a strategy that best suits those needs you have a better chance at maintaining your brand’s integrity and positive perceptions. Be aware these choices will affect your bottom line so prepare to have tighter margins during these times but know that the immense opportunities in exposing your quality products and services is well worth the investment.

For more about building a successful brand, visit our article Brand Building Ain’t What It Used To Be.

How have you used “discounts” to give your business a boost? Comment with your answer below.