Take a look through the newspaper. It is astounding how many business owners have spent good money to buy expensive ad space, and filled it with nothing more than a big business card.
Unless you’re letting the reader know exactly what the offer is, most of them will just skip over the ad and the whole point of the advertisement is lost.
An offer is NOT discounting. In fact, discounting is a last resort, and does more damage than good in most cases. Discounting not only takes money out of your pocket, it trains your clients to expect it. If you’ve ever had a phone call from somebody asking when your next special discount is on, you’ll know what I mean.
In direct response marketing, an OFFER is best described as a deal where if they pick up the phone now and make an appointment they’ll get some added thing, or combination of things that they cannot get another time, or they can only get if they’re among the first 12 or 17 or 29 to call.
To give you an idea of the difference between a weak offer and a strong offer, we’ll take an analogy.
Let’s say two men are each selling a horse. One says to the horse buyer, “Here’s my horse, give me the money now and you can take the horse.”
The other one says “Don’t give me any money now. Take Bessie for a week, ride her as you wish, and after a week if you like Bessie, only then give me the money.”
Now, who do you think is going to make the sale?
The second seller hasn’t lost anything by taking the money a week later. Yet, he’ll probably be able to sell more horses at a higher price than the first seller simply because he’s making it seem like his offer is a good deal better than the other.
Typically, a good beauty industry offer would be built on an existing service you want to sell, combined with free add-ons that cost you little or nothing to provide, but which give massive perceived value to the customer.
Perceived value is when the value add-on is of little or no actual cost to you, but increases the value of the services offered to the person reading the ad. Saying “Hurry, $249 worth of beauty treatments for just $99 for the first 14 people to call” may be a little bit of a sleight of hand, but without offers like this, your marketing is dead in the water.
Packaging The Offer
Once you’ve crafted a great offer, you can then start getting a bit more sophisticated. Let’s say that until now all you’ve had is a price list. In my view a price list is a poor way to market your services, since it encourages people to price shop, like walking along the server in a cafeteria. Granted that everyone likes a good deal, but the meaning of the word deal itself means good VALUE. It does not necessarily mean lower prices.
Want to know why? If the only distinguishing factor about your salon is the price, then you become a commodity. Once people start perceiving you as a commodity you become replaceable and/or interchangeable.
Are your customers calling you and asking what the prices of certain services are? Are they complaining about the prices that you charge? If you see a long time regular after a few months and ask her why she hasn’t visited you and get “Oh I couldn’t get an appointment with you, so I went to the place around the corner and kind of just kept going there.”!
If this is happening to you then for sure, you’ve become a commodity to them, meaning that they can get what you give anywhere. It isn’t necessary for them to come to you.
The situation is not irretrievable though and there are a number of things you can do like revising your prices upward, or starting new services, or even prune your customer list.
During these difficult times when the economy is not doing too well, it is easy to fall into the trap of reducing prices. I am, however, fundamentally opposed to mere discounting as a way to increase sales.
The important thing therefore is to ensure that it is not price alone that is your distinguishing factor. In fact some of the best ads ever written didn’t even mention any product, far less its features or price. It appealed to the emotion of the reader.
This is a very important concept in marketing, that people do not make buying decisions based on reason.
According to US marketing guru Dan Kennedy, ‘under normal conditions, only 10% of customers always buy by price, their decisions governed by price, because they have no choice. This group is largely made up of “working poor”, low-wage working people with more mouths to feed than they can afford food for. Nothing wrong with them as people. A lot to admire – except the choices they make that keep them poor.
‘But no good reason to have them – or worse, seek them out as customers. Yet, strangely, most business owners focus 90% of their energy on price even while only 10% of customers decide based on price.
However, there are 20% who make most buying decisions with little weight given to price or cheapest price, and 5% who never consider price….’
So, which customers do you want? It is my contention that you get the customers you deserve.
Most buying decisions are based only on emotion.
If therefore you are appealing to the rational part of the human, you will never get as much response as if you appeal to the emotional part.
Just take a look at some of the ads that are listed here. The very first ad is the one placed by Sir Ernest Shackleton, the great Antarctic adventurer. It’s a very simple ad, does not have any pictures, does not promise anything other than negatives, and basically is one of the worst kind of ads that you can place according to advertising professionals.
Here’s what the ad said
For hazardous journey, small wages,
bitter cold, long months of complete darkness,
constant danger, safe return doubtful,
honour and recognition in case of success.
This ad came out on December 29, 1913 in the London Times and it brought in more than 5,000 applicants including three women.
On the face of it, this ad does not have the power to bring this kind of response, but if you understand what the ad is about, you’ll realize that it is a deliberate, well planned and brilliantly executed dare to every red-blooded male in the whole United Kingdom.
A good contemporary example would be the advertisement for Singapore Airlines. In a time of recession when airlines all over the world are cutting down on price in order to become more competitive, they are one of the few airlines that have not gotten into this race.
Cutting down on price or discounting as we have already discussed is not the right way to market your goods or services. Whatever you do, however much you try to cut your price, there will be someone somewhere who will undercut you.
The only sensible thing to do then, is to appeal to the emotion of the buyer. This is what Singapore Airlines have done brilliantly.
They use the ‘Singapore girl to show you visually, how you will be cosseted and cared for in their airliners. Rationally speaking, would you expect any less in any other airline? But none of the others have caught on to this and are paying for it with loss of business.
Yet by appealing to the emotion of the user, Singapore Airlines is able to maintain its pricing and show growth in profits at a time when many other airlines are looking for bailout plans.
What about the legendary ad for the Rolls Royce. It came out in 1958 and is sometimes referred to as the “Most famous headline in advertising history.” All it says is
“At 60 miles an hour, the loudest sound you can hear in the new Rolls Royce is the ticking of the clock.”
More than half a century has gone by and no other luxury car maker has managed to bring out an ad that even comes close to this.
All these advertisements have one thing in common; they give some sort of emotional benefit rather than a physical one and emotional trumps physical every time.
One way to stop people cafeteria shopping is to package your products and services, and re-brand them so that they cannot be compared apples to apples with your competitors.
For example, you might currently offer a cut and colour at a certain price. But if you value-add by listing all the nominally free services you provide as part of this cut and colour, you come up with a package that has enormous added value. And remember, there is no point doing this unless you are going to list the added extras, with their nominal value, in your marketing message.
You can then simply name this new package, re-brand it if you like, so that it’s called the ‘Scarlett Johanssen Glamour Make-Over’, or whatever. You can actually take the exact same package, give it a couple of tweaks, and call it something different, for example the ‘Meryl Streep Screen Goddess’ package, to appeal to a different demographic.
“How Do I Write Ads That Work?”
Writing ads that work – writing ads that find you actual clients, that’s the skill. And that’s all readily available, all so very easy to learn, tweak, and use whenever you want to turn on your “money” tap. I’ve compiled the Starter Pack, a 2-part manual that shows you exactly how to write an ad that brings in clients like a flood – and, ready-to-use marketing templates with it.
See, this will give you the exact tools, the exact SYSTEM used by thousands of salons and spas across the globe, making them money every single day.
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