It’s a bit legendary is Le Renais de Venise – a restaurant where there’s only one thing on the menu. Steak. No choice of cut, no choice of sides. You’re getting an entrecôte with their secret sauce, fries and a green salad with walnuts, or you’re going somewhere else for your dinner.
Offering absolutely no choice is a bit brilliant for a restaurant. It shows passion, expertise and a certain cheeky charm. But it’s a rotten way to run promotions if you’re in retail.
And yet, that’s exactly what most retailers still do – they push one or two prescribed deals at prospective customers and refuse to let them have any say. ‘The Big Deal!’, ‘Catch Of The Day!”, ‘Special Offer!’… these isolated promotions might seem generous but, actually, all they do is narrow down customer choice, hamstring the shopping experience and destroy the price perception for the discounted product.
Once upon a time, there was a certain silly glamour in daily deals. Pre its Amazon acquisition, woot.com was a hoot (dotcom) – it was the Le Renais of online retail. But these days, it’s just another conduit for remnant stock. Similarly, once upon a time, there was something cool about the hyper-local daily deals offered up by the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial – but we’ve all seen how those panned out for participating brands.
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So, if prescribed deals don’t work, what is the answer? Less push, much more pull. Simple. Give your customers the opportunity to tell you what they want to see offered up in a deal – and, once a large enough number request the same thing, release that deal into the wild and watch it kill. From a purely practical point of view, a customer-curated deal comes with a de facto pool of red hot prospects – you know you’re going to sell XXX units because you had YYY people asking for it. Better still, you’ve captured contact details from all those prospects, so you can segment your marketing in the future (Dave asked for a deal on bicycle helmets, he’ll probably be after some reflective clothing once the nights start to draw in).
And it shouldn’t stop with what you’re offering. You need to let your customers tell you how much they’ll pay for a requested deal, too. If you were coming at this cold, you’d probably think that customers would always request impossible, margin-busting prices. But buyapowa.com have allowed customers to request their own deals for almost two years now and, according to their data, 73% of customers request discounts less than 30% off RRP – discounts which you’d be hard-pressed to make a song and dance about if you were flagging them up as a ‘Deal Of The Day’. But, give the right customer a modest deal on the right product and they won’t just buy from you, they’ll get their friends to buy from you, too.
That’s the future of deals. You need to listen, you need to act, you need to stop selling and you need to start serving. Give it a try and, if it doesn’t work, I’ll buy you dinner. At Le Renais de Venise. Hope you like steak…