Limited-time offers are a tried and true marketing tactic that encourages customers to act now. Creating a sense of urgency and a need to cash in on a deal that seemingly everyone is cashing in on before it disappears are powerful motivators for the consumer. So, how and when can you implement your own limited-time promotion?
Why Limited-Time Offers?
The primary reasons you should consider running a limited-time promotion are as follows:
Attract First Time or Infrequent Customers
If you’re aiming to target a demographic you’re not seeing much business from, a limited-time offer could be just the thing.
Create a Sense of Urgency
A finite window of opportunity to get a deal on something or the chance to have an item or service you can’t get all the time is attractive to the average person…pumpkin spice latte anyone?
Use to Test New Services
Limited-time offers can be used as a tool to test a new product or service you’re hoping to roll out permanently. If you try the promo and it’s a dud you won’t have wasted time and resources investing in a full-time offering. On the flip side, if it’s wildly successful you’ve just found a new money maker!
Increase Customer Loyalty
If you happen to land on a popular limited-time offer you could choose to keep it as a limited-time offer implemented annually. Big corporations like McDonald’s (the McRib), Burger King (Chicken fries), and Victoria’s Secret (Semi-Annual Sale) know that these popular promos create an influx of cash through their doors and keep customers anticipating the return of their favorite items. What’s more is they’ll likely frequent their locations more often and spend more money during the limited-time period than they would otherwise.
Holiday-Related Limited-Time Offers
Virtually any business can cash in on holiday promos. Using a specific yearly event makes it simple to place a definite timeline on your promotion and piggyback onto the excitement generated from the occasion. Some of the more popular holidays to run your limited-time offer during would be:
- Back to school
- Hanukkah – great for an 8-day limited-time offer!
- Fall/Spring/Summer break
- New Year (New Year, New You!) – should limit to the month of January
- March Madness
- Christmas in July
- Shark Week
- Awareness months (April – Child Abuse Prevention Month; June – LGBT Pride)
- Pseudo-holidays (June 8th National BFF Day, July 15th-21st – Everybody Deserves a Massage Week, etc.)
For a full calendar of holidays, national observances, and marketing ideas, download our marketing calendar below:
Business-Related Limited-Time Offers
Invite customers to celebrate your business’s milestones by offering limited-time offers inspired by your organization. For instance, an anniversary sale can be held annually and tied into celebrating the longevity of your small (but mighty!) empire.
Friends and Family
Being a small business also allows you to relate to your customers on a personal level. Hold a friends and family promotion offering discounts or giveaways to frequent shoppers. Original friends and family sales, prior to huge department stores running them quite frequently for the masses, were meant to offer a discount, generally reserved for a person with close ties to an employee, to loyal customers to “treat them like family” and show how much their repeat business meant to the shop owners. What a special way to recognize your regulars!
You may also choose to run this campaign for any and all customers. It’s a common practice, but we like the intimacy and exclusivity of offering it only to a select group as a personal thank you.
Inventory Clear-Out Offers
Get rid of aging stock and drive people to your shop by holding an inventory clear out limited-time offer. This type of limited-time offer rolls up perfectly into your seasonal marketing initiatives.
Speaking of seasonal marketing initiatives, a change in the weather is your queue to break out your seasonal limited-time offers.
Have people watching the mercury for their chance to cash in on store discounts. Workable both during the warm and cold months, invite customers to enjoy sales when the temperature dips below or rises above a preset temp. You could also choose a product and advertise paying the temperature for it on a pre-set day or up to a particular threshold. For example, this golf club in Tucson, AZ knows it’s difficult to get folks on the links during the blistering summer months. So, they had a limited-time promo ran over the course of a weekend where players paid the temperature for their entire foursome.
Seasonal Product Promos
If you have products that are season-specific, think about running a limited-time offer at the beginning or end of the corresponding season. Note that items like Christmas décor routinely have sales bookending the holiday season. It offers customers a chance to not only prepare for the upcoming holiday but to also get deals on items they won’t use for a full year but know they’ll eventually need. Plus, this allows you to clear out seasonal stock.
Customer Journey Deals
While we’re all about celebrating your professional milestones, don’t forget about customers and your benchmarks together.
New Customer Offer
Entice some new blood into your shop by creating an offer for new customers only. Fitness studios pull in new clientele with this tactic all the time offering a free week membership for new clients. Other services like Lyft offer ride credits to first-time riders, a double whammy since they’ll need to use the service again in order to claim the credits.
Birchbox ran a limited-time offer providing a free gift with any new subscription and advertised said gift on their marketing collateral.
One-Year Customer Anniversary
Show appreciation to customers during their one year anniversary. Not only will you give some warm and fuzzies to your regulars giving them a discount/offer out of the blue, but you’ll also have the opportunity to get back in front of a client who hasn’t made a purchase since their first interaction.
Like any marketing initiative, no strategy is one size fits all. Find a limited-time offer that speaks to you that you feel would work well with your business and give it a go!