Six ways to add value for your customers without holding a sale


{Vintage type from The Cupcake Kid }

As a consumer part of me loves sales. Who doesn’t want to grab a bargain every now and again? It’s partly why I shop at thrift shops and second hand markets. As a cheerleader for creative businesses though I find it hard to see talented business owners under value their work by offering sales.

While offering a discount can be a great way of showing your thanks to loyal customers, constant price cuts can actually undermine your original price.

Drastically cutting your prices for a flash sale will only serve to make your customers wonder why you can’t keep them that low all the time. You will struggle to turn these shoppers into repeat customers as those buyers will only value your products for the price they paid. Also while a sale might bring you more income in the short term at what cost? If you are selling the same product but for 30%, 40% even 50% off you won’t make any profit.

Despite consumers wanting a bargain we also want value. Value is not based on cost but on what it provides the consumers. People often pay more because they believe they are getting more. The trick is to make it clear from the outset what benefits and value added attributes your products have.

Instead of cutting prices, consider ways to add value to your products so that your customers will choose you over the competition even if your price is more expensive.

Here are my top six value adding ideas:

People do not mind paying more than your competitors if they think they are getting something extra for that cash. If your products are innovative, creative and scarce they will pay the price it is worth. You product will therefore be seen more valuable. If your products are similar to others and lack innovation then it might be hard to use a value based strategy. Plough your energy into creating the best product you can and consider all the little details that will make your products unique.

Using packaging to add value is nothing new but something to consider this holiday season. You can decide to offer gift wrap for time-pressed folks and even if you don’t you can present your items in a striking way that ties in with your branding. Well presented packaging makes your brand appear more professional therefore worth paying that bit extra for. Put a photo of your product packaging in your item listing so customers can see what they are going to get.

Adding freebies is a lovely idea but if you are not careful the cost can add up to higher postal rates not to mention the outlay for the extra item. Giving a freebie is not essential but it can be a nice touch for regular customers or to offer instead of a sale. Some lightweight items are stickers, postcards, pin badges, or wrapping the item in a reusable ribbon. Be inventive. Jessica Swift’s rain boots feature a secret message inside!

Consider designing a free download related to your products and having it available on your website the only give the link to customers. You can write it in a thank you note so as not to add any more weight to the package. Some ideas include a set of printable gift tags, an inspiring quote, printable recipe cards. Revisit an old design and revamp it with a change of colour or pattern. Think about what your client would love and make it happen.

Your branding must be unified, consistent and professional. You do not have to spend a lot of money getting a designer to do the branding for you. Not everyone can afford a designer but consider your logo, visual elements, patterns, shop header, photos and be honest with yourself. Are they really the best they can be with the resources you have available to you right now? If not, change it. If you think your site needs improving, no doubt your target customer will too.

I have a little saying “surprise and surpass”. Running a business can be busy and stressful but making the effort to surpass expectations can make the difference between someone becoming a repeat customer or not.

You can surprise your customers by phoning to clarify customization details rather than sending an email, hand delivering a local order or by sending out the order as soon as you can. These little things can create a wonderful brand experience which will make the transaction memorable and a point of value.

I often see buy one get one free offers or coupon codes dished out like candy. Save these for your loyal customers! If someone is going to keep coming back to you or has spread the word about your shop it’s nice to give them something in return. Inflated offers don’t offer much incentive to come back and keep shopping there. If you really want to give something away free make it after they buy four or five of something.

What are you doing to add value to your transactions?


  1. Lana says:

    I whole-heartedly agree with this post about constant sales undermining your business. Providing a quality product will certainly win out in the end and you will be rewarded with repeat customers and new customers that were referred by previous happy customers. 🙂
    Thank you for all the wonderful advice given.

  2. Sara Tams says:

    Great post – thank you! I’ve been struggling with whether or not to offer some sort of Black Friday or Cyber Monday promotion, and you’ve helped me to make up my mind. This is just what I needed to hear!

  3. McKella says:

    Great ideas! I have a friend who slips a few silk leaves into her etsy packages. It goes beautifully with her brand, because the name of her shop is Talk2theTrees and she features tons of gorgeous tree pictures on her blog. I haven’t quite figured out what to do with my packages, but I think she’s a great example.

  4. Carrie says:

    These are great tips!
    I know earlier on, I tried to think of sales and “incentives” to get people to come to my shop and buy (and especially since it seemed “everyone” was doing it).. but you are ABSOLUTELY right that your tips work way better than sales!
    “Inflated offers don’t offer much incentive to come back and keep shopping there.” – it’s so true! Those that come in for sales are just hitting your sale..but when you get your loyal customer and then give them something extra, they really appreciate it because they know the value of your items!

  5. Rin says:

    What fantastic tips!

    Surpassing expectation, I think, is key. And this is something that I always try to do for my customers.

    When I buy from a small business owner, I know that their love and passion for their work will be evident in the product. But, when there’s something just a little extra special about that purchasing experience, it really makes me want to shout from the rooftops and tell everyone to support that shop.

    PS. And I am super pleased that my Hooray! blocks are featured in this post! Hooray!

  6. katy says:

    this is great info. just turned my hobby into a biz in the last few weeks. my prices are fair, my hubs would say too low. with that said, i have had a hard time offering a sale due to my prices already being fair for the customer. i totally agree with your post & thought your same thoughts. thanks for the affirmation!!!

  7. Wonderful suggestions! I think its a knee-jerk reaction for me to hand out discount codes, have sales & slash prices. I need to value my work more and, as you suggest, point out the more important incentives for and benefits of purchasing my jewelry!

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