Smart small business owners avoid the hype game

small business owners asking the question how to sell should ingore online hype

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday . . .  is anyone else put off by this money grab? There’s no sincerity about any of this posturing. Get your best deal ever with an offer that expires at midnight . . . until tomorrow when we extend it and give you more bonuses to buy.

Giving Tuesday e-mails were particularly off-putting for me. “It’s that day so give to us.” Who declared this anyway? I guess it doesn’t really matter. Somehow, though, the give-me posters lost sight of the intent.

These shallow opportunists would have created a better opportunity for themselves by sending out a message announcing what they’re doing to give (none of them mentioned this, curiously), instead of making the whole message about staking turf as a getter. Imagine how powerful, and lucrative, such messages could have been by giving readers the information, and respect, to decide without being sold to.

Join the sales bandwagon cautiously

Your limited time offer undermines credibility.

Who really believes that a product or service that was priced at $1500 yesterday is worth that when a sales holiday prompts a $97 or $27 or $7 deal (for one day only – right, until tomorrow, or next week, or next month).

There were studies done years ago on the effectiveness of sales for retailers. Yes, this involved those with physical locations that shoppers could actually browse in person, but the principles should apply to the online craze too. Perception is what makes you popular – or broke.

Anyway, the research found sales reduced revenue. Probably not in the way you may think. Lowering price has its costs. This was a very small percentage of the hit. What was discovered is stores that offered sales had a considerably smaller number of purchases during non-sale periods. Customers stopped buying in large numbers after a sale ended – expecting another.

It’s never a good strategy as a small business owner to stake your claim as the low price provider. Someone with deeper pockets will always be able to better your offer. Plus, price shoppers are not the kind of clients most want to attract. They’re gone the moment there’s a cheaper (not necessarily better) deal.

Smart marketing strategies for small business owners

small business owners asking the question how to sell should ingore online hypeIgnore what others are doing – at least as it relates to bandwagon crazes. What makes you sought after is your thoughtful approach to solutions for client challenges. When you shift from an exceeding expectations strategy to a today’s deal mentality, clients start to wonder if what they paid full price for was worth it. Prospects buy expecting similar deals in the future.

Instead, consider pricing your products or services in a way that is fair to both you and your clients. Hold your ground when tempted to be a follower in the discount or freebie craze. Learn the hard way if you must, but I’ve found people see through the hype. The clients you get (or followers compelled by your freebie offer) are rarely ideal for your business prosperity or mental well-being.

Today’s quick trick is tomorrow’s bankruptcy

Effective marketing for small business owners isn’t about leaping every time someone suggests a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s about building relationships, credibility, a valuable product or service and being consistent. If the customers you have appreciate what you do for the price you request, there’s no reason to do deep discounts just because others proclaim “Tis the season”.

Frankly, I opt out of lists that spam me like crazy with ‘limited time offers’. Why would you think sending me five, ten or fifty (with your affiliate partners in play) messages a day would cause me to be more compelled to buy what you’re offering? Do you think I’m stupid, forgetful or more easily manipulated with a barrage of reminders? Nope – I’m annoyed and gone. You might have been my first choice as a provider yesterday, but you’re blacklisted today.

Before you leap, spend some time thinking about why your customers refer others to you. Usually this is because you’ve spent years building a reputation for offering unusual and creative solutions to client challenges. Most will pay a premium if you save them time, money or headaches – or improve their quality of life in a way that they can apply and appreciate. Sadly, esteem built over years, or decades, can be shattered if you let go of what made you so special to join the me-too crowd.

There are no magic tricks to building a successful small business. Know your customer. Offer great products and/or services that provide an answer to what’s been troubling them. Deliver in ways so clients are impressed with your attention to detail. Be consistent. Offer a fair price (that doesn’t mean cheap) for your wares. Listen to feedback and respond.

It’s not rocket science, but it’s not easy either. The small business build-up time takes longer than most expect. Once you have clients eager to share their secret (you as a resource), referral business starts to snowball. Don’t forget, though, if you start to embrace some of the dumb schemes others are selling, you can burn good-will, lose credibility and reduce your income stream as referral agents bail. Smart small business owners get it.

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