Limited-time offers, also known as urgency-bound or scarcity-bound offers. We all know what they are. A flash sale, a bundle, an offer with a discount, something that expires at a particular time... Deals like these are all around us - they come in all shapes and sizes. But what do you do when someone gets in touch to say they've missed the deal and asks you to honour it?
The only right answer here is NO!
Want to know why? And want to know how to say no without damaging your relationship with your customers?
Let's get stuck in then!
SOME EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:
(3:33) Extending an offer that's expired is illegal!
(7:28) How hounouring an expired offer can lead your customers to start doubting you.
(8:10) If you lose your customers' trust, they won't buy from you again.
(10:00) What happened when we asked a company to honour an expired deal.
(12:00) When you should still honour an expired deal.
(13:59) When it's okay to offer your customers something different.
(15:51) How honouring your expired offers impacts your relationship with your affiliates.
(18:40) How to say no to expired offers while maintaining and strenghtening relationships.
(20:10) How saying no helps you 'train' your customers for future sales.
(22:15) Subject line of the week.
If a deal ended on Friday night at 10 pm, then it ended on Friday night at 10 pm. You can't and shouldn't extend it.
Well, first of all, it's not legal to state the terms of limited-time offers and then extend your deal beyond those terms. Similarly, if you say a certain deal is going to be available for the first 100 people who buy it (that's a scarcity-bound deal), then you can't sell it to more than 100 people.
It's as simple as that.
Because the minute you start to change the terms, it becomes false and misleading advertising. Not. Legal.
When you're using time-bound or scarcity-bound urgency to promote and sell your limited-time offers, it comes at the cost of saying no to anyone who asks for that deal once it's over. We talked about the fact that honouring an expired offer isn't legal. But it's not ethical either.
Plus, saying no helps you 'train' your customers when it comes to future sales. Because the minute you change your mind and honour an offer that's expired, they're going to start wondering (subconsciously if not consciously) whether they should believe you or not. And next time you say that a limited-time offer or a deal will expire on a certain date, they might not believe you! They won't trust that what you say is true.
And what happens when the trust is gone? None of us can make any sales.
As business owners, we all have to build trust with our prospective customers. If people don't trust us - and don't believe they can get the results we're promising - they won't buy from us! We become dishonourable to the sale.
So the minute we say yes to a limited-time offer that's already expired, we damage our future sales. Because people will stop trusting us.
Think about it. They won't even bother rushing to get the deal before it expires. Because they know they can just drop you an email at any time and get it anyway. And when that happens, you have completely slaughtered your ability to ever use urgency with that customer. And you don't want to lose the ability to use urgency with your customers.
We have an example of this as customers. A while ago, we found out about this piece of software. They were running a great offer where they were selling their product at a discounted price. We didn't find out until after the deal had expired, but we still got in touch and asked to get the offer anyway. If you don't ask you don't get, right?
And as consumers, of course you'd want to ask. That goes without saying!
Know what? The company said yes. Hurray for us! So we got their product at a discounted rate, and the company got an extra sale they wouldn't have otherwise got. They were probably patting themselves on the back, but we, as their customers, have so little trust for them as a brand now that the next time they run a deal, we're not going to be in any hurry to go and grab it. Can you see how that doesn't work out in your interest in the end?
So, you don't honour an expired deal. That's the rule.
But every rule has an exception, right?
There are cases when you should honour an expired deal. And that's when you can see that your customer genuinely tried to get your offer but couldn't, because of circumstances outside their control. Obviously you don't just take their word for it. You go and check. You might be able to see that they tried to pay, but their card failed twice. Or that there was a problem with their bank. Or your website was down. Whatever.
If they couldn't get the deal because of circumstances beyond their control, you should honour it. If it was genuinely not their fault and the purchase failed, then it's fair enough. Technology isn't perfect. And by saying yes to giving them the offer, you're not breaking their trust.
But you still don't honour the deal if they dilly-dallied and stayed on the fence until the last minute. Or if your customer blatantly tells you they only found out about the deal after it had expired. That's when you say no and stay firm!
Sometimes you can still offer your customer the product you were selling at the discounted price, but that's only if you're selling that product already elsewhere, as part of another evergreen bundle or offer.
For example, you may have had a limited-time offer that sold Product A at a certain price, as long as you bought Product A within a certain time frame. This means that once the time frame has expired, you can't sell Product A at that price anymore. The offer's gone.
However, let's say you have another deal on your website. Let's say Product A is for sale on your website at that same price, but only if bought in conjunction with Product B. And that's an evergreen offer. In which case, it's perfectly acceptable and totally ethical to point your customer to that particular offer, which is an upsell at a discount. Because they could have found it on your website anyway. And this isn't the same as saying yes to a limited-time offer that's already expired. Can you see the difference?
Another good reason for saying no to honouring expired limited-time offers (as if we haven't given you enough already), is that it impacts your relationship with your affiliates (if you have any).
So let's say you have affiliates who helped you promote your deal. If you say that your offer ends on a certain day at a certain time and then you honour the deal once the deadline has passed, most affiliates who are worth their salt won't promote your products ever again. Put yourself in their shoes. If you found out that someone you promoted did some shenanigans with false urgency or false scarcity, how would you feel? Would you promote them again? Becaus you, as the affiliate, could get into hot waters too, you know?
But it goes both ways. If you have affiliates, then you need to be clear on what they are doing. You want to make sure they're not honouring expired offers either. Or equally, if you're selling an evergreen offer, and an affiliate makes it sound like it's a one-time-only or time-bound deal, well that's not right! You might end up having to give refunds and suffer from reputational damage, which isn't cool. So keep a close eye on what other people are doing with your offers!
So hopefully by now we've convinced you you've got to say no to expired offers. But how do you do that wihtout damaging the relationship with your customer?
Well, first of all you want to say you're sorry that they missed out on the discount. But while you'd love to be able to offer them the deal at the same price, you hope they understand that in order to be fair to everyone who bought on time, you can't do that. Otherwise, you'd be misleading all those people who grabbed your offer while it was valid. Plus, you want to mention that you'd be at risk of false advertising.
This works for a few reasons. First of all, you've given them an emotional reason as to why you're saying no. You've asked them to put themselves in the shoes of the people who did buy the deal within the dealine. If that was them, wouldn't they be annoyed? And then you give them the legal reason too.
Delivering the message in this way allows you to say no (in a nice way), but also lets you 'train' your customer and helps them understand that next time you have a limited-time offer that will expire on a certain day and time, you mean it. And next time they'll make sure they don't miss out on that discount! The urgency has just become more real for that person because they've now experienced the consequences of missing out on the deal within the deadline.
When you stand by your limited-time offers (urgency-bound or scarcity-bound deals), your customers will become more responsive and more profitable as a result.
This week's subject line of the week (courtesy of Rob) is, "We can't be friends". Rob here was talking about the fact that when Facebook first became a thing, you'd become friends with just anyone. But now we're all a bit more protective of who we connect with on social media, and we're trying to strip down. So in this email, Rob was talking about his method of removing people he doesn't actually know on Facebook. Intriguing, right?
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