Offers That Reduce Price and Increase Urgency

58 Killer Offers

This is the second installment of the 58 of the World’s Greatest Offers series from Dean Rieck.

As we’ve seen, the whole point of this series is to help you accomplish the three things you must do in order sell: 1) make an offer, 2) provide information to help people accept your offer, and 3) provide an easy means of responding to your offer. We kicked off the series by listing a few classic offers and offers that reduce perceived risk.

Let’s continue by looking at offers that reduce the price and increase the urgency.

Reducing Price

No matter what you’re selling, eventually it comes down to price. Saving money can be a good motivator, especially when you’re operating in a competitive environment.

  • Dollars Off—You offer a certificate with a dollar value that may be redeemed toward a purchase. Or you simply show the original price, cross it out, and offer a lower price. However, test carefully because a free gift of equal value often works better.
  • Refunds and Rebates—With a refund, you may ask $5 for your catalog, report, or other promotional item, then send a $5 discount certificate to be used on a first order. With a rebate, you offer a delayed discount, which encourages a purchase, then send a coupon which can be redeemed for dollars back.
  • Sales—A seasonal sale is a trusty standby to raise volume. A “reason why” sale is similar but gives some explanation for lowering the price, such as going out of business, inventory reduction, or overstock.
  • Introductory Price—This allows people to try something at a reduced cost for a short period of time. You can use this to get new customers, though it may annoy loyal customers who might feel they should get the best price.
  • Relationship Discount—This is the opposite of the introductory price. For example, new customers pay $30, while regular customers pay just $25. The goal here is to reward current customers, not to get new customers.
  • Group Discount—To target certain markets, you can offer a special discount exclusive to a type of profession, industry, club, etc. For example, an investment newsletter can offer a “professional discount” for accountants.
  • Quantity Discount—The larger the order, the better the deal. Or if your customer orders five items, you provide a 5 percent discount. Or you offer a lower per-item price for a two-year commitment than for a one-year commitment.
  • Step-Up Discount—This resembles the quantity discount, but is based on the incremental dollar amount. For example, a 5 percent discount for orders over $50, a 10 percent discount for orders over $100, and a 15 percent discount for orders over $250.
  • Early-Bird Discount—This encourages more and faster orders. Make sure the discount is a real discount. Don’t just raise prices for those who order later.
  • Price Matching—If you compete on price, you offer to match any competitor’s price. The idea is to assure prospects that you offer low prices.
  • Trade-in—You offer dollars off when a customer trades in a previous model or version and buys a new one. The trade-in can be your own brand or a competitor’s.

Increasing Urgency

In every sale there’s always a little hesitation at the last moment. By creating a short window of opportunity, you provide the push needed to help people make a decision.

  • Last Chance—This is usually a reminder that you’ve previously made an offer and time is running out. If you say “last chance,” mean it.
  • Limited Edition—This works well for art, plates, coins, special book printings, and other collectibles or rare items. The item is special in some way and there are only X number available or there’s a time limit.
  • Enrollment Period—You establish a “window of opportunity” when people may enroll, for learning courses or business services, for example.
  • Pre-Publication Offer—This is a popular offer used by publishers, especially for expensive reference works. You tell people that you need to plan ahead, so you offer a special deal to reserve copies. Readers are guaranteed to get a copy and save money, usually 10 percent or 15 percent off what others will pay.
  • Price Increase Announcement—If prices are going up, you can announce it ahead of time so people can take advantage of the old prices one last time or stock up.
  • Charter Membership—You offer a prospect the chance to be one of the first to subscribe to a publication or join a club or organization. A special introductory price, gift, or other incentive is usually included.

Next time, we’ll look at offers that improve selling terms and provide services and bribes.

Dean Rieck is one of today’s top direct marketing copywriters. For tips on copywriting and direct selling, sign up for Dean’s FREE Newsletter or subscribe to the Direct Creative Blog.

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Reader Comments (22)

  1. says

    This heavily relates to the teachings of W. Edwards Deming. I commented about it recently, but I’m not sure where.

    Edwards Deming taught the Japanese motor companies Toyota, Honda, and Nissan how to simultaneously increase quality, lower cost, and improve employee retention. His 14 points are extremely popular and pose an amazing benefit to any business.

    Check out his 14 points here:

  2. says

    Do you think offering a discount like this works with services (such as copywriting or graphic design). Would they really help make a sale? Or would they risk devaluing the service or the service provider?

    I’m not questioning these techniques. Just curious how they relate to service oriented businesses.

  3. says


    All these tactics work wonders for products, but may not always be useful for service oriented companies. For example, rebates may not work for a consultant or a coach.

  4. says


    Not all offers are best for all things, of course. On the other hand, if you’re a consultant or coach, you might try any number of these offers.

    You could try an early-bird discount for a seminar you’re giving (sign up before January 15 and save 20%), a group discount for corporate coaching (25 employees in accounting for the price of 15), a pre-publication offer (get this special free report for 10% less than others will pay if you order now).

  5. says


    Sorry. I forgot to address your comment.

    Sure, offers aren’t something that only apply to a certain type of product or service.

    For example, I offer to do copy revisions to old projects for half price. And I offer a quantity discount when I’m doing several of the same things at once, such as 3 versions of an ad for testing.

    If you’re a designer, you could send a postcard to prospects offering a logo package…trade in your old logo for a new one and save $100.

    You DO have to be careful not to devalue your fees, but if you consider all the various offers available, you can certainly find a handful that are appropriate for your situation. Specifically, look at offering something extra (rather than offering a discount) if devaluation concerns you.

  6. says


    Just to let you know, my name is Dave, I asked for the suggestions on using some of these offers in Real Estate.

    Just wanted to let you know my name so you know who asked the question :)

  7. says

    Real Estate…

    Realtors reduce home prices all the time for a quick sale. Lenders offer guaranteed acceptance for loan programs. Builders offer freebies, such as upgrades to fireplaces or nicer kitchen cabinets. Take a look at your own home page. You have offers all over it.

  8. says

    Thanks Dean.

    Yeah, I do the free reports thing and some financing offers, etc. Thanks for your response, I appreciate it.

    I look forward to the rest of the series and will be a regular reader of your Direct Creative blog as well!

  9. says

    Have to disagree with the price idea Dean.

    Anyone can sell anything cheaper than anyone else but when it comes to being able to offer service, support and business longevity … that model is flawed.

    In the end it’s not about price it’s absolutely about value.

    The more you focus on the price, discounting and devaluing the offer in the clients eyes the less they value the offer and then you are just a commodity.

    I’m not into selling commodities as sellers of commodities are price takers.

  10. says

    I don’t know if I have commented on your site before, but I should have, as you are my favorite read!

    I especially enjoyed your post about copying the style of the titles on Cosmopolitan Magazine.

    As usual, this is an outstanding article.

  11. says


    If you don’t like one offer, try another. This series of articles is intended to get you thinking, not prescribe specific offers for specific people.

  12. says

    Not so much criticism of the article Dean but a heads up for those reading.

    If you live by price you will die by price.

    Increasing urgency on the other hand gets you lots as does limiting supply, together they create even greater urgency

  13. says


    I have to agree, out of all those its the limited edition that seems to work best to get me to buy something.

  14. says

    I m just out of the black friday sale shock which left my wallet empty. I m forced to live like a saint in himalayas till a few paychecks. Great tips and those guys have learnt to master it. Our day to day life offers so much of these tips in action provided we notice..

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