How many times are you roped in to taking a special offer or limited-time promotional deal only to later discover that it hasn’t really served your purpose?

I’m guilty! It was only mid-way through last year that bought a special two night accommodation deal in Melbourne from a sales phone call, paying a deposit up front. Why did I do it? I didn’t have any plans to spend two nights in Melbourne, but it seemed like a great price, with a low deposit at the time so I bought it.

I have been to Melbourne since then, but I’m still yet to use the accommodation voucher. Why? Because the couple of times I’ve been, I only needed to stay one night. The voucher is yet to suit my needs.

A classic sales tool is to whack an urgent deadline on an advertising offer to try and rush a client in to taking up the deal, without giving them due process to consider all the pros and cons. In my case, if I wanted this special accommodation deal, I had to commit there and then on the phone. If I had time to think about my upcoming needs, I might have asked about one night deals!

In business we often get sucked in to taking up a special advertising deal, only to find out that that money could have been better spent in a more targeted way.

So how can we determine if we’re really getting a good deal? Here are my top three tips:

  1. Develop a marketing plan and budget. A 12-month marketing plan will in essence become your blue print of marketing activities. This will give you a really clear plan of what you want to achieve which you should always refer to when you get approached to take up a deal. It will help you to see whether the ‘special offer’ fits in with your current strategy, budget and your desired target markets so that you’re able to make an informed decision about going ahead with it or not. It may be that the magazine that has approached you covers your exact demographic, and the price is cheaper than what you had allowed for in your budget. In that case, go for it!

  1. Take a day. Sounds simple, but never accept an offer on the spot. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is! So always ask for extra time to consider the deal, so that you can give it due consideration against your marketing plan, budget and required outcomes.

  1. Look at the full cost. Most sales people will give you the monthly cost, or the cost broken down by things like edition, week, advertisement etc. My advice is to calculate the full cost for the term of the offer, ie. over the course of the year, then ask yourself a couple of questions:

    1. Could that full amount be better spent in a more focused way?

    2. If I added that figure in to my marketing plan, what tactics would I come up with that would better target my market and have greater impact than this advertising offer?

    3. Do I have budget for that full amount?

Hopefully this will help you make more informed decisions. I know I will be better armed next time I get a phone call from someone trying to sell me the latest 360 degree spinning mop with a free set of steak knives!