Entrepreneurs: Sweeten The Deal To Keep, Get, Customers

We’ve told you how now can be a good time to start your own business, but to stay alive in the down economy you need to put a little cherry on top to keep customers and keep drawing them in. The same-old deal just won’t cut it anymore.In a Bloomberg interview, marketing professor Philip Kotler says:

Add some additional benefits to your standard offer. Offer free shipment, extend your guarantee, or create a more generous return policy.

One good example is online shoe store Zappos, which periodically gives out memberships to its “VIP Club” offering free shipping, both ways, forever.

Making Money in Chaotic Times [Bloomberg] (Photo: ashi)

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  1. I Love New Jersey says:

    Free shipping seems like a good idea, but have you looked at the cost of shipping lately? It might be fine for some big company with economies of scale, but not really for the little guy.

    Why should people listen to academics anyway?

    • savdavid says:

      Because lots of academics came from the real world of business. They did the application and now teach, what could be better? My Father did, he was a professor who taught business after 18 years running a successful business. I resent your implication that teachers cannot be trusted or listened to.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @I Love New Jersey: Because they’re smarter than you?

  2. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    yay for Zappos free shipping club, haven’t bought from them yet ever, but i signed up for the free shipping deal which means i am definitely more likely to buy from them next time i need something they sell. it means i am even a little more likely to see something somewhere else and then go there to see if they have something similar in the same price range and then use their services.
    see how that works? winning formula for zappos

  3. sleze69 says:

    Unlike other companies, Marriott has INCREASED rewards for elite travelers. They have introduced rollover stays so that Platinum members can credit any days above 75 toward next year’s balance. They also have run redemption benefits in which you book 4 days with points, you get an extra day free. By re-booking a stay after this promotion took place, I got back 16000 marriott points.

    I know I sound like a Marriott fanboy but they deserve it (untill they screw me over) and are a great illustration of the topic of this story.

  4. Scrutinizer says:

    Some companies try getting every last dollar. Bike Nashbar took a 3 dollar coupon code but didn’t process the 10 dollar free shipping. For seven bucks thye lost a customer. I wonder how many ads they’ll need to replace me.

  5. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    This isn’t exactly a “bonus” but I just bought a bracelet from a company called “Milkbands” and they fumbled my order due to a computer snafu … next thing I know I have an e-mail apologizing and they’ve fast-shipped me FIVE of the things. Which will get here at the same time as my ONE would have done.

    I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do with five of them (give four of them as baby shower gifts, I guess!), but the response really impressed me and definitely made me willing to pimp them to friends. [www.milkbands.com]

  6. dragonfire81 says:

    The challenge is that once you offer these great deals to your customers, if you ever reach a time where you need to scale them back, you face a potential backlash.

    Many businesses have failed by being too generous in the beginning and unable to keep customers after ending promos, raising fees, etc. to try and keep the business viable.

  7. Megladon says:

    The picture looks like lipstick on a fish.

  8. mrgenius says:

    I’ve really enjoyed the free 90 day trial of Amazon Prime so far. I never would have purchased it, but after using it for free for a while, I probably will now. Unlimited 2 day shipping for free and $3.99 shipping for next day is pretty much worth it for 80 bucks a year for as much online shopping as I do (at least for the things that are actually prime-eligible). Though I hope they still keep their free super saver shipping too for those who don’t do a lot of shopping.

  9. edwardso says:

    I use beauty.com/drugstore.com all the time and on my last order i got two free lip balms and free shipping. Those type of offers keep me buying there every month

  10. savdavid says:

    To: I love New Jersey

    Because lots of academics came from the real world of business. They did the application and now teach, what could be better? My Father did, he was a professor who taught business after 18 years running a successful business. I resent your implication that teachers cannot be trusted or listened to.

  11. HogwartsAlum says:

    I ordered a very hard -to-find, now-out-of-print CD from someone on Amazon. Because it was expensive, I opted to buy used. It came super fast, but there was some gross crap on the case that looked like candle wax (I hope!). I emailed the seller “Thanks for the speedy service; this had schmutz on it; just thought you might want to know. I’d definitely buy from you again though.”

    They sent me an apology via email and THEN did a $10 credit on my order. I totally didn’t expect that!

    I would DEFINITELY buy from that seller again. That rocked. They didn’t have to do that.