The New “Offer” Feature on the Facebook Business Timeline: “To Discount or Not to Discount?”

HOT OFF THE PRESS: Facebook Pages just rolled out a new feature last night on Business Timelines called “Offers”. Facebook have only made this feature available to a few businesses to start with but they say they will be rolling it out to more Business Pages over the coming weeks/months. Check out an offer we made today at SummerHills Retreat using this feature which attracted 2 x offer-takers within minutes….

Business Facebook Timeline new offers featureNotice that you can….

  • Upload a photo
  • Put in a description

The new Facebook Business Timeline Offers features also allows you to….

  • Enter an end date
  • Outline clear terms and conditions

It then allows your Facebook Fans to….

  • “Claim” the offer by clicking a “Get Offer” button directly visible on the offer box
  • See how many other people have “claimed” the offer

So, check your Facebook Business Timeline Page today. Do you already have the “Offers” feature available on your Timeline? If not, when the  “Offers” feature does roll around to your Business Facebook Page, what offer will you be making? Or will you not be making any offers at all?

Which brings me to some bigger questions that we all face as business owners…..

  • What do you think of the discount economy?
  • Does it degrade the value of your service?
  • Or does it give initial traction to a new product or service in your business?
  • Does it make the call-to-action very clear?

These are questions that we as business owners face every day and the root of all this is the big question “to discount or not to discount“. Here’s my thoughts on this:-

  1. Only discount if it suits your brand and brand values. If you are a high end product, then perhaps discounting is not in line with the ethos of your services
  2. If your products are mass market and are cheaper products to start with compared to your competitors, perhaps there’s no room to further discount
  3. Check the margins of your product, ensure that you can afford to discount
  4. Of course you can offer a discount below cost price to you, but only if you have a very good reason to do this. See below….
  5. Discounts are a great way to offload a product that has “gone stale” or is not selling very well. Often you can recoup your costs (or at least close to, which is better than recovering nothing at all)
  6. Discounting is one way to check if you have priced yourself out of the market. If your sales have reduced, perhaps your products are now overpriced compared to your competition? Offering discounts is a great way to keep you in the game. If your service is price-sensitive, your finger on the (price) pulse is important. Discounting is one way to re-gauge a price point in order to bring your price back into line with your competitors
  7. Discounts are a fantastic way to see if there is a new market you can tap into that you never had access to before. For example, when I was working in an Italian restaurant whilst at University, the owner always had a “specials” blackboard. Always keen to understand business even as a youngster, I asked her one day what was the benefit of the blackboard? She said simply in her broad Sicilian accent “Bella, it’s just testing. We test a new dish on the blackboard, and if it’s popular, we transfer it to the regular menu. If a new dish doesn’t sell on the blackboard, it’s won’t sell on the standard menu either” So at 18 years old I learnt that discounts are therefore a good way to “test” your product to see if it attracts a new set of customers to the different price-point or the different product
  8. Following on from the previous point, discounts are a great way to introduce a new product line. We’ve all seen “Introductory Offer Only” from time to time right? Offering a discount at the initial launch of a product tests the market to see if your new service has strong demand, and again is testing one price point for your product
  9. Discounts are a great way to keep your existing customers excited and interested in your business. The anticipation of the bi-annual Clarins skincare “free makeup bag and goodies with any purchase over $100″ kept me hooked on their skincare range for years!
  10. Discounts are a great way to generate buzz around your brand and this gets people talking about your business. {One-girlfriend-to-another-font} “Oh, did you hear that Business X is now offering 25% off those gorgeous black t-shirts with the moulded cuffs and tailored waist? Let’s duck down and grab a few”. By starting a conversation about your brand, this leads to new referrals (friends-of-friends giving you a big rap) and hopefully generates new customers
  11. Only discount a limited line. Don’t discount your whole range (unless you have a good reason to!) You still have to make money in the rest of your business during the discounting period. Ensure you stay profitable during the time of the offer
  12. Of course you can discount your whole range if you want to but consider limiting the number of offers to say, the first 100 or 1000 customers only. Once you reach that limit, cease the discount.
  13. If the discounted product has sold like hotcakes – you have a winner. Either reduce the price point permanently of that product to ensure regular trade in that area of your business, or offer a similar product again at that price. Either way, if you’ve sold the limit, your discount test has worked. So learn from it and implement changes to make this work for you by adding this product at this price to your regular product range (not on your specials list)
  14. Following on from the previous point, if you do decide to discount, make it for a short period only. An unlimited discount that seems to last forever actually erodes the appeal of the discount. The whole idea is to catch a customer’s attention to your company and the discount is merely a vehicle for attention. If your discount lasts forever, then the next time the same customer sees you, they will ignore your company (the product/brand has gone “stale”). Think: FRESH
  15. If you decide to run regular discounts, make sure they are different each time. This flows on from the last point. The next time a customer sees your business, the discount needs to be new to catch their eye
  16. Beware of the discounting mentality. This can be defined as, when a customer sees one discount, they may ask for more freebies because they assume you are desperate to offload the product. The subset of customers that ask for a discount on top of another discount are in the minority and are called “freeples” (people that scout and hunt for anything that is free). There is nothing wrong with this (I’m no stranger to a great bargain!), however there are ways to ensure you don’t get caught up in this cycle (see next point). It’s also important to remember and focus on  why you are discounting in the first place (any of the reasons above)
  17. Be very clear about the terms of the discount. Make sure the terms and conditions are written alongside the offer or point to where the T&C’s can be found. If the discount is not available with any other offer, then say this. If multiple discounts will run you at a loss, be very clear about this from the start and don’t allow multiple discounts to happen, regardless of how tempting it is to make the sale
  18. If discounting is not for you, why not offer a discount in a non-monetary way? Offer “two for one“? Or value add by “get X for free if you buy Y“. Perhaps offering a package deal could work better for your company where one item is reduced in the package provided other items are also purchased?

Either way, whether you decide to discount, value add, package deal or not, none of us are operating in a vacuum. With big cartel “group discount” machines operating around us for some time now and customers naturally magnetising towards the ease (and better price) of buying alot of their goods online, the traditional way we trade is no doubt in the decline. It is important therefore to at least consider how discounting fits into your business model. Whether you decide to discount or not, these questions need to be asked. And you may just decide to never discount, and that’s fine too, then your focus needs to be more on reputation management, brand awareness and brand engagement and that’s where Facebook can help! I cover all these areas in detail in my ebook Facebook Business Success in 10 minutes a day.

So what do you think about discounting? Do you discount, value-add or none of the above?

And if you need more help exploring the right direction for your business, just shout out and connect with me one-on-one or come on a business mentoring retreat with yours truly. Or if you simply love this post, drop me a comment in the box below, I would love to hear from you. Better still, Like my Facebook Page and let’s connect there.

Cheers Francesca

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About Francesca

Francesca Esposito-Rose is CEO of SummerHills.com, a successful Australian Retreat. Also Digital Strategist, Business Mentor and Facebook Business Specialist. With extensive experience over many years in corporate and public management and private business ownership, a past life as a geek and too much internet experience to admit in public, she translates Facebook for Business into understandable language that others leave you wondering about. Francesca has a fresh and straight-talking style in both writing and management, getting the job done, quickly, efficiently and successfully.

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