It’s always nice when something is on sale, isn’t it? That is, of course, if you haven’t bought it already. Hot on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday craziness, I’d love to have an open discussion about sales. I have been thinking a lot about this lately, and would love to hear your thoughts!
As a new pattern designer, I wonder whether putting my product on sale is an appropriate way to promote new business. Is it a slap in the face to the people who have kindly paid full price for the pattern before the sale? I can’t help but feel a pang of guilt thinking of those loyal customers who actively sought out my pattern and paid the full cost for it. By lowering that cost arbitrarily, what am I saying about the value of my product? How am I presenting my brand?
I am not saying that sales are bad or wrong. I gleefully took part in the weekend sales and snapped up a few patterns I have been on the fence about for some time. The sale definitely pushed me over the edge. That is the whole point. For the seller, you get people buying who might not have otherwise bought, therefore increased sales. You also get an influx of purchases that can help you push forward with your business, clear out old stock, and generally keep growing.
There are different kinds of products. In the case of limited stock or limited space, I am generally happy to pay more upfront for a guarantee that I will get the product before it sells out or get the ticket before the event fills up. Think of buying a plane ticket, or a sweater from your favourite store. With digital products, however, there is no limitation. There is no maximum occupancy or inventory. If it’s always going to be there, why should it be one price this week and another price the next?
The other thing is, we are creatures of habit, and these recurring sales events must (I assume), in the long run, negatively impact sales in the weeks leading up to the big day. We’ve all heard people say things like ‘I’ll just wait until they have a sale’ or ‘I’m saving up for Black Friday’. Some companies have massive sales so often that it is common knowledge that you don’t buy when things are full price. This is a valid sales strategy and often, the ‘full’ price is artificially inflated to compensate.
This is not exclusively about patterns. This applies to any purchase. Let’s say I buy an e-course to learn how to make a professional video. I pay $90 for the course. The next week, the course on sale for $20. How do I feel? I feel angry, silly, tricked, embarrassed, and certainly not excited about my purchase. I may even subconsciously assume that the course must not be any good and that could impact my decision to purchase from them in the future. Does this foster a relationship of trust and respect between buyer and seller? Arguably, it does not.
Let’s say I (as a seller) never have a sale. This is excluding an initial discount upon product release (because this is the only time when sales don’t impact previous buyers ). I never have a sale and my customers know this. They know that the price I set for my products is fair and they can trust that the price is not going to suddenly drop, making them feel cheated. Does this foster a relationship of trust and respect between buyer and seller? Arguably, it does!
Is there a better way to say thanks? I realize having a sale can benefit your loyal customers too. I own many patterns from designers, but not all of them. When companies I love have a sale, I get to partake by using that discount on something I don’t have already. We all win, right? In some ways, yes, but it doesn’t completely remove the feelings of distrust.
Can we reward our customers in some other way? Something like a free simple pattern or a free e-book or e-course. Nothing extravagant, but something that nobody else has already. Isn’t it better to leave your loyal customers feeling like they got a special, unique, gift than leaving them feeling like they got ripped off?
Am I overthinking this? I have a feeling this will be a polarizing topic, but would love to hear your thoughts. How do sales events make you feel? Are you a buying or a seller? Both? Please give me your two cents in the comments below, or, if you prefer to discuss it privately, shoot me an email!