Want an offer that appeals to your customers? We’ve got just the recipe!
Special offers are one of the most important tools any dealership has when it comes to moving metal. The downside is the creating offers that will speak to your customers often isn’t quick and easy. When you are struggling to keep your head above water in these murky times, it’s one of the last things are thinking of, but we’re here to help. So what are the essential ingredients of an offer that’s going to get the response you are looking for? It might help to look at an offer as food. Here are five things that go into making a good offer.
- Expiration Date
It’s a good idea to remember that food has a finite shelf life. Yes, even Twinkies. Something that was delicious in January is going to be downright horrifying in July. While an old offer on a car isn’t going to give anybody food poisoning, it’s just as likely that your customers are going to avoid it.
Source (twinkie expiration): https://www.businessinsider.com/how-long-do-twinkies-last-2012-11
The expiration date does two things for a coupon or a special offer. First, it creates a sense of urgency. If a coupon is open-ended, a customer can put it off into the future. And we all know human nature: if we put something off, chances are it’s never going to happen. You need to create a sense of urgency, or as the kids say these days FOMO (fear of missing out).
Second, it creates two areas of redemption. When the offer is initially seen, a customer is more likely to redeem it right from the jump. It also creates a second period right before the expiration date as customers try to get in under the wire. Now, if the coupon is for a specific vehicle, they might already be out of luck, but if it’s for something like an oil change? You’re still providing that service, and getting potential customers to walk through your showroom.
Source (two redemptions): https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271809256_Do_Coupon_Expiration_Dates_Affect_Consumer_Behavior
One thing to keep in mind during these trying times: make sure that expiration date is a little further out than usual. It’s hard to know when social distancing is going to end, so either ignore this step, or just keep it in your back pocket once things are back to normal.
- Clear message
True story: One time, my uncle picked up a dog biscuit, took a big bite, spat it out and said to my mother accusingly, “This is the worst cookie I’ve ever had!”
We should all laugh at my uncle’s plight, but he had a legitimate concern. When it comes to food, no one wants to be surprised. You don’t want to bite into what you think is a jelly donut and find that it’s full of gravy. That gravy donut might be delicious if you knew what it was going in, but no one wants surprise gravy.
An offer is the same way. You want your offer to be crystal clear to your customers. There should be zero surprises and make sure your disclaimers are VERY clear, no fine print or misleading tactics. While it might cost you a potential customer who comes in thinking they’re getting a different, maybe better deal, it will create happy, loyal customers. The good stuff.
This is of paramount concern now (and probably will be for the foreseeable future) as the present pandemic impacts the economy at large and your customers’ budgets.
- A special occasion
If you show up to the office carrying a giant cake on some random day, your co–workers are going to think you’ve lost it. They might like Cake Man or Woman (which is what they’ll call you), but pretty soon they’re going to just expect that cake, and you’re spending way too much on baked goods just to hold equilibrium.
Now, if you bring a cake on Helen from HR’s birthday? You’re a considerate co–worker. See where I’m going with this? A special occasion is a great excuse for a special offer. It gives you the expiration date you need, it keeps the offer from being expected as part of an average day, and even better, it gives you the perfect excuse to post on your social media accounts. During your standard Happy Whateverday posts, you can include text about the offer you’re making to celebrate. You know what a good occasion might be? End of social distancing. We’re all looking forward to that one.
And if you have birthdays from your customers, you can always give them special birthday offers too via a number of direct marketing channels.
- Call to action
Everything needs a Call to Action, so much that if I had merely written CTA the vast majority of you would know exactly what I meant. Coupons are no exception. And while you’re thinking that a coupon’s CTA is as obvious as a cake’s, this is where you need to be a bit more creative.
A simple “shop at our store,” isn’t really going to cut it. Put some creative energy into the CTA, and don’t be afraid to be a bit cheesy. All you’re doing is giving the customer that final nudge out the door. Handing them the paper plate with a slice on it, as it were.
- Provide value
Now here’s where the cake metaphor falters if it wasn’t faltering already. Cakes aren’t what you’d call healthy choices. The value they provide is in the taste department and not much else. Your coupons need to be delicious and nutritious. The way you do that is by providing value.
This means that your offer needs to be a good one. $5 off a new car isn’t going to cut it. The reason behind this (other than the obvious that no one is going to leave the house to collect on a $5 coupon for a car) is that your coupons impact your reputation. If you’re known for providing bad offers, then pretty soon your customers are going to start ignoring your emails and posts. You’re not just serving your customers; you’re serving your reputation.
In the same way that a pile of eggs, flour, and sugar might not be appetizing, the elements of a good offer might not look like much on the surface. But when you combine them, you create something far better than the mere sum of its parts. You create a unique and indispensable part of your business.
Now who wants cake?