One of the best ways to attract customers to a business is by offering discounts. Whether your business is brand new or a multimillion-dollar company that’s been in the game for over a decade, this tried-and-true tactic will always increase traffic. However, small businesses often can’t afford to offer deep discounts on their products or services in the hopes of attracting new customers — They need to be strategic and creative in offering other incentives instead.
To help, a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) members responded to the following question:
“Because small businesses may not be able to afford to offer deep discounts to attract customers, what’s one other incentive to shop they can offer in order to drive sales and earn new customers?”
Here are a few ideas they recommend for encouraging customers to shop.
1. Free Educational Materials
“When people look for products and services, they don’t just want lower prices. People need excellent customer service and training to use your products. On your pricing page, add a free online course as an added bonus for buying from you. Just offering value in the form of a year’s free customer service or educational material is often enough to drive sales.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
2. A Referral Program
“Another way small businesses can offer value in order to drive sales and earn new customers is to create a referral program. Make sure you build relationships with your customers and offer small incentives for both the person being referred and the referrer when a new customer makes a purchase in your company.” ~ Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME
3. Access to Exclusive Perks
“Offering incentives other than deep discounts such as access to exclusive sales for new customers or the ability to preview new merchandise can drive sales and generate new customers. The key is to make prospective customers feel valued and exclusive.” ~ Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
“When it comes to luring new customers to your business, novelty is often better than deep discounts. There’s a restaurant in Charlotte, NC, called Stoke that has a one-pound donut dessert. Benny Marconi’s in Roanoke, VA, has “pizza as big as your head.” It was word-of-mouth marketing fueled by novelty that turned me into a customer of these restaurants. What type of customer would you rather have?” ~ Ben Landers, Blue Corona
5. Online Giveaways
“If you can’t afford to offer a deep discount to every new visitor, you may want to consider hosting an online giveaway. With this strategy, you can bring in plenty of new customers and you won’t have to give away a ton of free merchandise. It’s possible to generate hundreds of leads with one giveaway, and it will only cost you the price of one product.” ~ Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
6. Free Gifts With Purchase
“A great incentive to offer to customers is a free gift with purchase. You don’t have to give something super fancy. It can be anything, like a digital download or even a smaller package of one of your products. People love free stuff. So, by offering them one, you can encourage them to buy more often from you.” ~ Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
7. Complementary Products via Partnerships
“Expand what you offer to your customers by partnering with small businesses that target similar customer profiles and sell complementary products. That way, you’ll be able to create additional entry points for your potential clients to discover your business and for your existing clients to stick around for longer — all on a budget.” ~ Daria Gonzalez, Wunderdogs
8. Loyalty Programs
“One incentive is a loyalty program. It will involve discounts, but not of the deep variety, and they occur generally over time. It’s a great way to build loyalty, which is something that can often overcome a customer potentially going elsewhere for a deep discount.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
9. Free Events or Entertainment
“Small businesses can look for ways to attract customers with events, either live or online. A brick-and-mortar business can bring in customers with an expert speaker or entertainment. You can also hold educational online events, such as webinars. Don’t make these high-pressure sales events. Use them to attract people to your store or website and some will become customers if they find value.” ~ Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting
10. A Portion of Profits Given to Charity
“Support the causes you (and your customers) care about. Giving a portion of your profits to charitable organizations is not only a great way to give back (however small), but it also shows your customers you care about more than just the bottom line. Above all, though, make sure your choices are authentic. If not, your customers are likely to sense it and you may end up doing more harm than good.” ~ Mark Stallings, Casely, Inc.