Discount is a word that’s thrown around a lot in the business and marketing world. Using marketing discounts is a strategy that a lot of businesses swear by. Consumers around the world have become quite accustomed to taking advantage of marketing discounts and deals when they get the chance.
But what if you don’t want to give out discounts?
What if running sales, promotions, and discounts doesn’t fit with the high-end brand image you have established for your company?
Although a matter of perspective, discounts can potentially ‘cheapen’ your brand equity.
If you want to stay away from that, it’s totally understandable.
At my agency, Karizma Marketing, our marketing team doesn’t rely heavily on discounts for our ad agency clients, so I get it.
You Don’t Need Marketing Discounts to Drive Massive Sales….But…...
Here’s the deal…You don’t have to discount in order to drive massive sales, but you do have to exchange some sort of value with your customers.
A coupon, discount, or any such thing is just a form of value that your customers are getting in return for choosing to do business with you. You don’t have to give them this exact value, but whatever you do give or promise them, has to feel valuable to them. Are you with me so far?
For all the businesses that want to avoid discounts, I’ve put together 9 alternatives to marketing discounts while still exchanging value with your customers. These tips and ideas will not only be useful for smaller businesses, but will also benefit larger, established businesses out there as well. Let’s get into it!
9 Alternatives to Marketing Discounts that Still Exchange Value with Customers
1.Build a Brand
When you see what value a business has, you look at the “brand equity” of that business. Brand Equity is how well perceived, recognized, and valued a business is. It is the reason why customers will choose one brand over another in the market.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Newer businesses or even smaller businesses don’t have a lot of brand equity, so for them using discounts is a great way to get their brand out there.
Established, larger businesses have worked long and hard to build their brand equity, they are recognized, have loyal customers, and offer a perceived value above competitors, and therefore don’t need to resort to offering discounts to gain more market share.
The best way to create value is to create a brand identity and that will lead to equity. You need to be able to build awareness about your brand, communicate with your customers your unique selling proposition (USP), show consumers what your brand stands for, and be consistent with marketing messaging.
Once you have built equity in your brand, you won’t need to discount as much as the perceived value that customers get from your brand is high enough.
2. Have a Unique Selling Proposition
A unique selling proposition, or USP, is something that sets you apart from your competition in the market. It is something that creates value for your customers by giving them something that others in the market don’t have. You’re essentially telling potential customers that you have something no one else does and that USP is the value your customers get when they do business with you.
A unique selling proposition doesn’t have to be something completely new or something that the market has never seen before. It can also be something that sets you apart or improves upon an existing product or service on the market.
For example, it could be that your business has improved an existing product on the market, or has additional services above and beyond what your competitors deliver for the same price. It could be that you have particular certifications, machines, or technological advancements that others don’t, for example. These are all unique points that you can take advantage of.
I believe in the USP concept so much that all ad agency clients must articulate their USP when filling out their intake forms with Karizma Marketing. We have also worked with clients to continue to innovate and grow what their USP is, including going as far as trademarking names for their unique technology so it could be a unique selling feature to their brand only.
Using these unique selling propositions can help you walk away from having to offer discounts as the exchange of value now happens because you are better, cheaper, more technologically advanced, more educated, or different from the rest of the businesses in your niche.
3. Resolve Your Customers’ Problems (High Pain Points)
High pain points are things that customers are not happy with, whether that be in terms of the products that are already in the market or the absence of certain products in the market.
Pain points are the thoughts, fears, stresses, and concerns that keep them up at night. Your focus should always be to target these pain points and cater to them if your product or service is a clear solution to their problem.
4. Give out Freebies (Free Gift with Purchase)
When you don’t want to discount but still want to bring value to your customers, you can always give away something for free. This is basically a value proposition where your customers will get more bang for their buck when they shop with your brand.
Now, there are a few ways you can do this. You can give away a gift with purchase, or do something a little more advanced, such as offer a different gift with varying spending limits or tiers. Think of this as a similar idea to the “Free Shipping with a $50 order” offer you tend to see a lot on eCommerce websites these days. You can also give out samples or seasonal gifts, a popular “go-to” strategy of makeup and beauty brands. Using the freebie strategy to exchange value simply means you’re going to look to add more value through gifts vs. discounts.
Many brands in the beauty industry take advantage of this practice. Whenever you go to checkout, you’ll be given a smaller product or sample as a free gift with purchase. You automatically feel like you’re getting more for your money and value gets added to your purchase. Plus, this can help increase website conversion rates and customer return rates if your customers like the sample enough to come back and purchase the full-sized product. This is the feeling that you want your customers to have.
5. Deliver Excellent Creative Content
Content that is on your websites and on all your marketing channels can also play a crucial role in making sure your customers know what kind of value they’ll be getting when they buy from your brand.
Ensure that your content is consistent across all your channels and conveys a message of value.
Content is a great tool that everyone has access to (for free) and it can be used to bring value to customers as well. Your customers won’t be getting anything physical with the content you share but they should feel like they will be getting a high-value purchase when they shop with your brand.
Everything we have seen above shows you how to use your Brand Equity and your Unique Selling Proposition to bring value to customers and move away from discounting. Well, how would you get these messages across to your customers? You use content such as blog posts, emails, videos, podcasts, guest speaking, and more.
If your content is doing its job in establishing you as an expert or distributing information about your product to a relevant audience, you will have customers that understand the value they purchase when they shop with your brand. That is just one of a multitude of reasons why developing a strong content marketing strategy is so very important.
6. Have a High Converting Website
Keeping in line with the content that you should have for your brand, your website should also play its part in ensuring your customers feel the value of your brand. A website is sometimes the first interaction that customers will have with your brand and, as they say, first impressions are everything. As an eCommerce brand, making it a good one is very crucial.
A high-converting website will lead customers through all the important elements of your product or service they need to know before making a purchase.
Benefits will be clearly articulated, photos and videos will be easy to view in great detail, friction will be incredibly low when someone tries to make a purchase, book an appointment, access customer service, get their questions answered, and more.
Make sure you have a website design that is easy to navigate and that your content is excellent and expressive. The way your website guides the visitors across the different elements should be simple and the value propositions should be worded simply as well.
There is nothing else more impactful to increasing your revenue than increasing your website conversion rate.
Spending more on ads, sending more emails, introducing more products, posting more on social media, investing more in SEO – none of it will move the needle forward as much in your online business as much as increasing your website conversion rate.
Website CRO is probably the most overlooked, undervalued, and underutilized area of focus in growing a business online.
7. Do Influencer Marketing and have Brand Ambassadors
Another way to get to your potential customers is by having an influencer marketing plan. For those of you who cringe when you hear the words “influencer marketing”, hear me out…
Reach out to influencers that are in the industry that your brand’s customers are in and send them a few of your products. Having them review and talk about your brand will help you get to more people out there.
Now I’m not talking about people who don’t align with your brand’s values, mission, customer base, and you are not interested in developing a long-term relationship with. I’m talking about people who have a true influence over their followers’ buying decisions and are fans of your brand. Just one truly good influencer is more valuable than 100 “influencers” who don’t have a buying audience who are truly interested in or have a need for your brand’s products or services.
Trust me – I’ve seen plenty of influencer campaigns both flop and thrive, and I can tell you, if you aren’t interested in building a long-term relationship with a high-quality influencer that is mutually beneficial to both of you, your “influencer marketing” plan will never work. People can see right through it…
But if you do it the right way, and only partner with influencers who are truly invested in your brand and who you are also equally invested in, it can absolutely skyrocket your brand awareness, distribution, affinity, and revenue.
Another way you can look at influencer marketing is to look at it through the lens of brand ambassadors or customer referral programs. Having brand ambassadors will allow you to market your brand to more people, since we often trust our friends and family’s product and service recommendations more than any influencer or ad. It will enable you to target more qualified audiences and convey the value that your brand has through your customers’ own words versus your own.
Both influencer marketing and brand ambassador programs will help you increase your brand equity and will make sure that your target market knows the value they get when they purchase with your brand. Using influencers and brand ambassadors ensures your brand is being talked about by people who the masses trust.
8. Co-Partner with Large Brands
If you’re a smaller brand wanting to move away from discounting, you should be looking to engage with larger audiences through other channels. Co-partnering with larger brands is something that will help you do just that.
Co-partnerships can look like shared giveaways, live events, trunk shows, product collaborations, and more.
Remember, when you create your strategy of partnering with larger brands, you’ll want to promise your potential partner that this partnership will be beneficial for them as well. Some good rules to go by are to agree to cross-promote each other on social, via email, and more.
It’s also a good idea to use UTM parameters for proper tracking on all links you give to your co-partner, so you can later measure how successful the brand partnership was and how many new leads, customers, social followers, and website visitors your co-partner drove your way.
Partnering with a brand that has a larger audience than you will help you reach more potential customers. And because larger brands often have larger brand equity (like we discussed above), you are kind of riding the coattails and trust the larger brand has built with their audience, so they are more likely to trust your brand more than without the “endorsement” of the larger brand.
9. Use Subscribe and Save
A final idea to help you move away from discounting is to utilize a subscribe and save program, such as ReCharge or Bold Subscriptions. This feature will allow you to have customers subscribe to incremental deliveries of the products they like and with each order, they will save money.
Subscribe and save enables you to bring people back to your brand by having them make a purchase that happens every few months or weeks. This way you can ensure that you are retaining your customers for a higher customer lifetime value versus offering one-off discounts that don’t establish a long-term relationship with your customers.
You can incentivize your customers by bundling a few products together, offering unique products only available through subscription, or by offering free shipping on orders. Once you have more and more customers joining this feature, you will have a lot more customer retention, your brand equity goes up, your customer lifetime value increases, and you end up not having to rely so heavily on discounts in the future.
In conclusion..Test! Test! Test!
Discounting your brand can translate to a cheapening of your brand equity, however, keep in mind the world’s top eCommerce websites and brands all offer regular discounts and promotions: Home Depot, WalMart, Macys, Target, Best Buy, and more.
My clients often refer to large brands as brands they look up to and want to be like, but by the same token are unwilling to test discounts. So it’s important to note that as you grow and scale your business, it is important to test all sorts of different strategies to see what works best for you. Once you build a strong exchange of value from some tips and ideas I shared above, you won’t have to rely on discounts to make sales.
While offering discounts can help you get short-term results a lot more quickly, it can land your brand in a market segment that you might not want to necessarily cater to, so it is also important to keep this in mind, while also being open to testing all sorts of different marketing strategies.
If you operate in the higher-end target market, you may not want to be associated with coupons and discounts. That being said, I encourage you to research high-end luxury brands and see what their history looks like with discounts, sales, and promotions to establish a strategy moving forward.
Discounting is simply an exchange of value, and there are a lot of other ways that you can do that. I hope the 9 ways that I have talked about here help you increase your brand equity and gain more market share without having to cheapen your brand or rely too heavily on discounts.
Most of all, I hope these tips help give you some ideas on how you can get creative in your marketing and continue to test, test, test!
CEO of Hawaii's largest Digital Marketing Agency, Karizma Marketing, Toccara Karizma is a Digital Marketing Consultant renowned for turning eCommerce businesses into 7 figure powerhouses. Follow Toccara to discover the best-kept industry secrets that will skyrocket your sales.