How to run *actual* limited time offers

Estimated completion: 10 minutes


If you're reading this, you probably work in technology.

Which means the product you sell -- a web app, widget, computer chip -- scales by definition.

Yet limited time offers, or the indulgence of scarcity, are often leveraged by tech companies to increase sales.

Fake Limited Time Offer Example

In this guide we'll discuss how scarcity in an infinitely scalable paradigm contends with honest marketing.

How scarcity works

Loss aversion is a psychological principle that states we are more akin to avoid "losing" something than we are to endeavor gaining something.

Cue the "50% off until Friday" sales technique.

Nobody wants to consciously pay 2x next week when they could pay less today. So the prospect bites.

Fake Limited Time Offer Comic

This is well and good, until the marketer does another deal after promising the first one "wouldn't come back anytime soon."

Yeah, we're looking at you, OptinMonster.

It's simple

Don't run limited time offers or leverage scarcity to boost sales, unless you actually have limited availability and won't re-run the offer in the near future.

"But wait" you say. My prospects have a short attention span.

If your sales cycle really is now or never, take a lesson from electronics retailer Best Buy.

Lowest price guarantee

Years ago, Best Buy realized they ran so many coupon and discount offers that customers who took advantage of one offer, would miss out on the next offer for the same product at a better price.

To maintain trust, while also running frequent price discounts, Best Buy added a policy for all shoppers called the Price Match Guarantee.

Here it is, quoted directly from their website:

"If we lower our in-store or online price during the return and exchange period, we will match our lower price, upon request."

-- Best Buy

Limited time offers, the honest way

We get it. You want to experiment, try different pricing schemes, and modify your business model on the fly until you find what works.

Luckily, this is not incongruent with ethical behavior.

On the rare occasion you give Prospect A a great deal, and Prospect B complains, simply honor the deal.

Companies who offer one-time daily deals are faced with this often.

You can play coy and pretend it never happened. You can flood your unhappy customer with a litany of legal terminology from your T&S. Or you can simply apologize and honor the belated deal for them, too.

This may leave a dent on trust, but that can be rebuilt later, with more honesty next time.

Marketers who run limited offers, honestly

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