There is one newsletter I read almost religiously. It’s Martin Stellar’s.
Martin has a refreshing voice. He is honest and wise. And even though he has chosen to work with independent artists, his advice is always relevant to small business owners.
At the end of March, after a conversation with a client on the dangers of offering discounts as an incentive for newsletter subscriptions, I caught one of Martin’s emails. It described exactly what I wanted to say. So, instead of writing something, I asked permission to re-use his message. He complied with my request.
Here it is below.
When it comes to giving people an incentive to join your list, I quite often see people offer a discount.
“Get 10% off if you subscribe!”
I don’t like that.
Sure, it can make sense if you’re a large retail platform, like Walmart or Amazon.
But if you’re a small business owner, an artist, or any other kind of maker of things, I doubt you have the economy of scale to justify giving discounts.
Except maybe if you’re a musician and you sell songs, or if you’re an artist and you have a well-trafficked print sales page.
But even then, I don’t like the discount approach, for several reasons.
First, I don’t think it’s a good start of a relationship, to devalue your work right when people first consider staying in touch with you by way of subscribing.
It’s not the right message to give them: “Hey, my prices are normally x but actually that’s higher than need be, so screw it, let’s just give you a discount”.
Another problem is that right from the start, right when people are ready to take a first step of increasing proximity, you start talking about a sale.
Is that a nice way to treat people?
Not in my opinion.
It’s like when you’re in a bar, and you see a nice girl or guy, they offer you a drink, and right after you say thanks, they start talking about going home with them later on.
Bit crude, wouldn’t you say?
You need to put yourself in the shoes of the other person: the visitor who lands on your site, likes what they see, and are faced with your invitation to sign up.
What’s going on in that person’s mind at that point…
… that they want to buy something from you?
It’s possible, but in most cases that’s not where they’re at.
Most of the time, they simply want to learn more about you and your work.
In other words, they’re responsive to your invitation – the invitation to start a new relationship.
When you start by offering discounts at that point, you basically ignore where they’re at and force them to think in terms of buying.
But it’s way too early for that.
I prefer non-pushy marketing, the kind that’s helpful and delivers value by itself.
In other words, they ‘meet’ you, they want to see if there’s resonance, and maybe start a relationship.
That relationship leads to conversations, and over time, those conversations will lead to sales, see if they don’t.”
For more information on Martin Stellar, visit http://martinstellar.com/.