Using Marketing to Decrease Risk, Without Devaluing Your Solutions

Using introductory offers in your marketing can reduce perceived risk and help your prospects get to know you. Done poorly, they can also damage your brand and destroy your differentiation.

If you’re asking your prospects to make a buying decision that involves a significant budget or any other form of risk, it’s wise to create a low-risk way for your prospects to get to know you. Increasing comfort decreases perceived risk. And that’s essentially the goal of all marketing today: to decrease risk and make a purchase easier to defend emotionally and logically.

Introductory Offers as Marketing Tools

Often, the path marketers take is with introductory offers. There’s danger, though, in creating inexpensive teasers if they’re done wrong. You can cheapen your brand, acclimate your audience to lower pricing and lower value, or all of the above.

The worst cases we see are what we call the “transmissions and tax returns” problem. Chances are, you wouldn’t bring your car in for service at Ted’s Transmission Repair and Tax Prep Services — and you definitely wouldn’t have Ted prepare your corporate returns!

But the disconnect doesn’t have to be that obvious. I still question the wisdom of Porsche’s need to add an SUV to its line-up. Or Mercedes Benz and BMW’s addition of the A-Class and 1 series, respectively.

Don’t Lose Your Differentiation

Instead of being all things to all people, do what you do and do it better than anyone else. (There’s only one “Utimate Driving Machine” and it doesn’t have to be priced for the masses.)

If you need to expand beyond what your brand means to the market, perhaps take the Honda/Acura or Toyota/Lexus route and create a family of brands. If that’s not possible, reconsider whether the proposed new product/service is a good long-term fit.

This possibility of brand dilution is particularly deadly for small- and mid-size B2B businesses, where the kind of brand equity we see for Fortune 500 companies is unlikely to exist. In other words, losing your differentiation can be deadline.

Relative Pricing Matters

That’s not to say that you can’t make a lower-priced service line work. For example, if you offering market research to consumer brands and typically charge five figures for an engagement, you may want to offer executive summaries with much narrower scopes for, say, $400 or $500.

The executive summaries offer a relatively inexpensive way for prospects to see if your approach and style fits their needs. It’s very little risk, in terms of opportunity costs, and palatable financial risk.

Who Are You Marketing To?

The price point for your get-to-know-us product is important and bears some research. A $49 price tag would absolutely tarnish the value of your big-ticket consulting. More importantly, it would likely attract the kinds of customers that you aren’t interested in. (i.e. Those unwilling or unable to pay your consulting rates.)

Be careful in trying to serve multiple markets. You can create different content and marketing materials to serve, say, corporate bookkeepers and CFOs — who will naturally have very different concerns, but may be interested in the same service.

But don’t try to serve CFOs and lang-haul truckers. There’s just no overlap there. (With the possible exception of something that saves money/fuel/time and improves the driving experience.)

A price that balances the value of your services with the desire for a prospect to get to know your work a bit better before committing tens of thousands of dollars can be a valuable marketing tool.

What Are You Marketing?

Finally, be clear on what you are marketing. Your strategy should be different, depending on whether you are marketing a new service meant to appeal to a new market, or using a new service as a way to reach the same market for your existing services.

Critically, you must identify your primary product line and most important audience segments, and serve them first.