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Let's Make A Deal

Deals Deliver More Sales

Aug 7, 2019

By Bob Stimolo

Educators receive hundreds of mail order solicitations over the course of the year. Much of this mail is concentrated in August, January, and March.

Most recipients of direct mail try to dispense with it as quickly as possible. Often it’s sorted into three groups:  1) “read it now”, 2) “read it later”, or 3) “toss it out.” The mail that ends up in the “read it now” group is most likely to yield a response. Obviously, the “toss it out” group is not going to deliver any response, and few find the time to review the “read it later” group.

The goal of any promotion is to qualify for the “read it now” group. There are two types of promotions that are more likely than others to encourage immediate readership. The first is one that introduces new product. This is especially true of a new product that solves a problem, yields an improved outcome, or appeals to one’s self-image. The second is one that prominently features special offers, especially ones that have expiration dates (because that’s what makes them special).

Introducing New Product

New product promotions attract attention, and it’s important to plan marketing campaigns that take full advantage of this. New products can be brand new or they can be newly improved. New products can even be sold before they are actually available (as in a pre-publication offer). Because the purchasing process in education is so lengthy, I feel a product can be promoted as new for at least 2 years.

Developing Winning Offers

Regardless of the benefits and value of a product or service, the greatest response rates are generated by the most compelling offers. Consumer marketers generally lead the way in developing and testing offers. Some of the more successful offers include seasonal sales, buy one get one free, buy one get one at half price, accept a 30-day free trial, buy now pay later and many more.

A powerful offer entices the recipient to engage with the promotion material. It seduces readership and it poses a reason to consider the benefits promised in the promotion material.

Most prospects are concerned with what a product does. Does it save time, reduce workload, improve test scores? If our promise of what it does aligns with the prospects needs, now the product features become of interest. First we need to describe the benefits of the product, then we can follow with the product’s features.

Savings and Discounts

Everyone wants to save and receive a discount. Accept this reality and embrace it with your pricing and promotion strategies. Don’t set your list price to be attractive, set your list price so as to make your offer price attractive. Sell at your offer price in the heat of the buying seasons. Sell at your list price in the off seasons.

Another way you can make discounts work for you is through bundling. Create a set of products that have some relationship to one another and discount the set from the list price of the components.  In most cases, selling the set will result in the sale of more product and at higher price points than can be realized when products are purchased individually.

Hurry, This Offer Expires Soon!

Expiration dates can motivate prospects to buy as well as get them to buy faster. Consider requiring responses to be received by a certain date in order for the buyer to qualify for a discount. Products that are purchased by teachers spending their personal money can have expiration dates as short as 30 days. However, discounts offered on products purchased with school or district funds should have longer expiration dates consistent with school and district spending patterns. Typically, schools and districts place orders from spring promotions in late summer and orders from fall promotions are often placed in late fall.

No Money Down

Payment terms should be flexible. The education market is a huge bureaucracy and bad debt for most companies is low. Consequently, in many cases, credit terms should be extended to satisfy the bureaucracy. Options including 30-day billing and the acceptance of credit cards should be made available to prospects in order to accommodate a variety of school and district purchasing policies.

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Guarantees do not increase returns. Return rates remain the same whether you offer a guarantee or not. However, guarantees can increase sales.

Guarantees should be part of any offer because they make the prospect feel comfortable purchasing sight unseen. A 30-day warranty against any manufacturer’s defects is common and not particularly motivational to a potential buyer. A guarantee of satisfaction is common in consumer markets. It takes the risk out of the purchase and at the same time it puts the onus of the return on the buyer.

The Art of the Deal

Making deals is an art. It is the art of creating pricing that is attractive to buyers while at the same time delivering an acceptable ROI. Like it or not, we are all being trained to shop for deals by consumer marketing and advertising. Our challenge is to make it clear to potential buyers how they will benefit from our product or service and why they need to act right now.

FREE Promotion Critique
Soon it will be time to plan your promotions for the 2020 Winter/Spring season. SMRI has the most experience reaching PK-12 educators. You can benefit from our research and testing. Contact us for a FREE promotion critique. Call 1-800-838-3444 x201 or email