Give most executives the choice between some wild “blow-out” price-based promotion or taking time to first locate powerful new reasons to buy that are good for one and all, and the circus will soon be hired to tout the latest short-term deal. While such approaches can clearly add sales, doing so can also cause long-term damage that can more than offset the short-term gains. Here are three possible reasons for such contradictory results:

1. Customers learn to wait for a blow-out deal at a low price, and an offering’s reputation for being a good value at its usual price is permanently reduced. At some point, almost everyone waits to buy your “bargain” offering on sale.

2. You give customers the sense that you are desperate, making it seem as if there could be something fundamentally wrong with what you offer, substantially diluting the offering’s image and reputation. Otherwise, why would you need to sell the offering at such a low price?

3. You give some customers the impression that you don’t know what you are doing, making them wonder whether they should purchase any of your offerings.

Instead, businesses should increase sales by methods such as:

-- Introducing new benefits that make offerings worth far more than many now believe to be true

-- Provide information, demonstrations, and training to make the offering more valuable and easier to use

-- Allowing customers to buy more at the current price before an increase occurs

Here’s an example of what I mean that occurred while I went shopping with my wife at a handbag store in an outlet mall. She hadn’t planned to look for a handbag that day, but the sidewalk was literally blocked by people exhorting her to step inside for “incredible” savings and handing out coupons. Naturally curious, she stepped inside and read the coupon.

The store’s inside was festooned with signs touting 50 percent off in one area, 35 percent off in another area, and so forth. The coupon said that she would receive 50 percent off. Wondering how the coupon applied, my wife asked how the coupon applied. Three salespeople said in virtual unison that she could take 50 percent more off the already discounted prices displayed in the store. She and I interpreted that information as meaning she could buy goods that were priced at 50 percent off, at 75 percent off instead (full price times 50 percent times 50 percent). Well, why not look around?

She soon became frustrated because not a single handbag seemed to be of the type she needed for work. After looking at hundreds of handbags, she still couldn’t find anything suitable.

Unable to help with this fruitless search, I told her I would head for another store to pick up what I needed and return in a few minutes. In a nearby clothing store, I quickly found the shirts I wanted in colors I like at a 25 percent lower price than I had expected. I bought several shirts and was quite happy.

Returning to the handbag store, I found that my wife was about to walk out. Before she did, I pointed out a gorgeous dress handbag that she could purchase for $125, a steep price … but a good value for the quality materials and beautiful appearance. We spent another half hour discussing whether to spend that much. She insisted that she only wanted to spend $35 for a lower-quality handbag, which was why she had originally entered the store.

To indicate my sincere belief in the item’s value, I offered to buy the handbag for her as a gift. She declined my offer, but she eventually bought the bag and has since loved it.

How likely do you think my wife is to go into that store for the next blow-out deal? I suspect that she wouldn’t go in under any circumstances. And now her idea of what price she should pay for the company’s bags is $35. How will they make much money selling to her? They won’t!

So this promotion was bad for the company as well as bad for my wife. She had previously liked the company’s products and had happily paid $125 for its bags. The former sense of value and willingness to purchase are gone.

While the clothing store I bought from did better for me than the handbag shop did with my wife, the shirt seller could have improved its performance. Having seen that this sale was near the Fourth of July, I mentally calculated that I would be back in a year and only bought enough shirts to last me until then. I also chose to wear the clothes sparingly because they rapidly lose their best appearance due to the colors fading.

Had the clothing store told me how to avoid the colors quickly fading from being washed, indicated that a price increase was coming soon, and promised that there would be no sale a year later, I would have happily bought ten times as many shirts and continued doing so once a year. The value of the clothing would have more than doubled for me, acting much like a more than 50 percent price reduction, but without causing any of the negative connotations from such actual reductions in price.

Do you see what I mean about the importance of using the right ways to make additional sales?

I asked the well-known marketing expert, Dean Alan Guinn of Rushmore University, to comment on the self-destructive nature of how many businesses chose to seek growth. Here are some of his observations:

“It’s easy to become lazy about finding the most sustainable ways to grow. When that happens, the near-term budget may be met … but the costs can be far too high. While marketers should be among the most imaginative people in an organization, retreating into offering deep price-based deals seems to rob some of their creativity by making sales too easy to obtain.

“A good solution can be to rotate those who develop plans for increasing sales so that fresher thinking is brought to bear. For instance, those with insights into how and why customers and end users employ an offering may be able to identify opportunities to increase value by making offerings more desirable and durable at little expense. With such insights in hand, advertising agencies and internal marketing staffs will be able to craft effective campaigns to increase sales based on delivering such advantages.”

Here are two metaphors that may help you appreciate and remember the differences between foolish and sensible reasons to purchase:

A foolish path to rapid growth can be like a forced march over heavy terrain carrying a heavy pack. Initially, you move rapidly. But fatigue ultimately slows you down. Without rest, you eventually drop in your tracks. That's the unhealthy consequence of unnatural growth.

By comparison, if you plant a few water lilies in a body of water, rapid expansion can continue until the surface is entirely covered with lily pads. Expand the body of water’s surface, and the water lilies will just keep growing. A program based on adding sensible reasons for customers to purchase immediately can be like that so your organization’s sales reach a much greater level.

Are you ready to develop and apply such bountiful reasons to purchase now?

What are you waiting for?

Author's Bio: 

Donald W. Mitchell is a professor at Rushmore University who often teaches people who want to improve their business effectiveness in order to accomplish career breakthroughs through earning advanced degrees. For more information about ways to engage in fruitful lifelong learning at Rushmore University to increase your effectiveness, I invite you to visit