Why I don't believe in offering discounts


There are so many discounts around at this time of year, aren’t there? Pre-Christmas sales, Boxing Day sales, New Year sales. It seems like whatever you need, whether it’s a product or service, whether it’s being sold online or in store, you can pretty much find a discount being applied somewhere.

The temptation as a business owner is to jump on the bandwagon, offering sale prices and discounts in order to compete. But as a copywriter, I made the decision long ago that I wouldn’t be joining in - around Christmas or at any time of year.

While knocking 50% off a fashion line that’s about to becoming redundant makes complete sense, I honestly believe that discounting is a poor marketing strategy for most businesses.

The problem with discounting

First, discounting suggests that you’re charging too much in the first place. If you can slash 30% of your regular rate just because it might get someone’s attention, what does that say about your regular profit margins? Far better to offer great value all the time and to be known for that fact.

It’s also pretty difficult to compete on a ‘lowest price’ basis. You take 10% off, someone else offers 15% off and soon no one is making any money at all. If price is the only difference between you and your competitors, then you’re going to struggle.

And do you really want to attract the bargain hunters? Wouldn’t you prefer clients who really value what you do and feel strongly enough about your brand’s quality to pay reasonable rates for it? Personally, I find that clients who are super picky about price are also super picky about everything else, which makes them incredibly difficult to work with.

What does discounting say about quality?

I used to get regular emails from one particular gift retailer. Pretty much all of them had some sort of discount offer in the subject line. At first they caught my attention, but I soon got use to them. Before long I had written the company off as a budget brand rather than a quality one, and unsubscribed from their newsletter.

Not only that, but you can guarantee that if I ever were to buy from them, I’d never pay full price - I’d just wait until the next discount came along. So they’ve rather trapped themselves into that discounting model.

On the other hand, I know that I could get my design work done more cheaply if I went to a junior freelance designer rather than using the expert team at Hullo Creative. But I absolutely wouldn’t.

I know that anything I ask Suzi and the team to do will be done to the high standards they’ve always offered, which means that I’m actually getting great value for money. While their rates are very reasonable, it’s their quality - and the fact that they’re such a joy to work with - that has won them my business.

Don’t be reactive - have a pricing strategy

As a copywriting agency, we actually put our prices up slightly this year. It was incredibly gratifying when one regular client came back and said he was quite happy with the change because we still offered great value.

We’ve worked very carefully on our pricing strategy to combine the effort and time we put into our work with the value our clients get out of it, and have set rates that we believe are fair to everyone. It’s true that we do have a discount for sole traders, because I believe in supporting those very important business ventures. But this is part of our standard pricing structure and, within the context of our wider business, is still financially viable.

So there we have it - a few reasons why I don’t believe in offering discounts. Don’t get me wrong. There are some contexts in which a carefully thought out discount can be useful - in return for someone referring a new customer or client, for example, as part if a bulk buy offer or to get early ticket sales to help you plan an event. But don’t just jump on the discounting bandwagon for the sake of it or you might find it backfires and ends up costing you money in the long run.


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