There are few marketing strategies that work as well as limited time offers in increasing both your sales and your traffic. You don’t have to look further than the Black Friday phenomenon to understand that scarcity and urgency sell – and that you should use them to your benefit.

If you own a restaurant, your limited time offers may consist in special menu items or a special menu available for a short period of time (not more than two to three months). You can also offer discounts that give your customers the chance to save a buck by enjoying a special treat.

If you are in the retail business, the sky is your limit. One-day sales, one-month free shipping deals, lowest-price-of-the-season promotions etc. are only a few types of limited time offers you can come up with to make your products even more appealing and get customers into your store.

So why is it important to adopt this type of marketing strategy?

In a restaurant, offering a new dish as a limited-time deal before you adopt it as a permanent menu item allows you to see how it sells before you invest money in making the change. You can use such an experiment to create some hype around your restaurant, especially if you know how to put a nice spin on an exotic dish, a rare ingredient, a special cooking technique or a brilliant dish presentation (extra points if you can come up with an Instagram-worthy dish). A limited-time offer can bring in both old customers, happy to take advantage of a good deal while feeling at home, and new customers, ready to give your restaurant a try, especially if they don’t have to pay full price.

In retail, limited time offers have the added advantage of helping customers decide to buy on the spot. Unfortunately, after clients linger on premises, the chances that they decide not to buy at the last moment are remarkably high. Limited time offers encourage them to take that final step and turn from browsing to buying.

What makes for a good limited time offer? Here are some hints.

Creates a fear of missing out

This is the very definition of a limited time offer. The fear of missing out on a deal is a powerful incentive, which is why both limited-time and limited-supply offers work. If your product sells out or your promotion reaches the deadline, your clients are out of luck, finding themselves exiled in the group of could-have-been buyers who never got to try your product or buy it at a spectacular price. The fact that others may use social media to brag about taking advantage of the deal adds to the injury, so you should clearly encourage that.

Promotes a sense of scarcity and urgency

The way to create a fear of missing out among your current or potential clients is to limit the availability of the product you offer. This creates the same sense of urgency as limiting the amount of time your deal is on. “Expires today” or “this month only” are perfect examples of making your customers rush to your store. “Only a few left in stock” can have the same effect, as does spelling out, for instance, the number of special-offer drinks you’ll be handing out, together with the mild warning “it’s going fast!”

Of course, it’s easier to create a sense of scarcity and urgency if you offer something unique, that cannot be copied by your competitors. Starbucks and McDonald’s are excellent in marketing seasonal beverages that are uniquely theirs, which allows them total control over the supply and enhances their brand.

Is seasonal

It works in business as it works in life: Mind your surroundings. If the trees are in full bloom, do not make a pumpkin-spiced drink into a limited time offer. Make sure that your offers agree with the season (and with the season’s special celebrations). Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, summer, spring break, back-to-school events are all perfect pretexts for short-term special deals.

Offers attractive prices

Next to the exhilarating experience of purchasing a unique product, the personal victory of getting a product for less than they feel they should  is what make customers receptive to limited time offers. Make it worthy for them and offer them prices they cannot resist.

Stays true to your brand

While limited time offers are a great opportunity for experimenting, do not get carried away. Instead, continue to consider your target audience and make sure your offer is in line with the image you want to project. If you market yourself as an Italian restaurant, a sushi dish as a special deal is a step too far.

Does what it says

If you tell your customers that your offer is limited, let that be the truth. Don’t push them into visiting your restaurant based on the assumption that the deal expires at midnight, just to revive the offer the following morning. By being dishonest, you risk losing the trust of your customers, so don’t let the brilliant idea of limited time offers cause avoidable self injuries. 

Is cleverly marketed

Yes, we are talking about social media, especially if your target audience is the young crowd. This is the steroid version of the word-of-mouth marketing, so give it proper attention. Of course, you can use your website to announce your deals. Your receipts and your email list are also great tools to spread the word.

If you are thinking to open up a new business or in a process of rebranding and remodeling your existing business, contact us to get a free consultation from Mindful Design Consulting. Click HERE to price your project design.

Also, take a look at “Branding By Interior” e-book, the only book written on this subject at this time. It brings insight on how you can turn your business into a market-dominating competitor by using human cognitive responses.

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