cheesy sales techniquesI’ve seen a roadside sign many, many times that advertises ‘Special Sale Today’. It’s a sign that’s placed curbside every single day. I cringe every time I see it. The reality is there are no ‘special sales’ particular to a certain day. This sign reminds me of being on vacation. You know, the vacations where you are the tourist. Shop vendors stand outside the doorway and try to woo you into their businesses with verbal pitches like “almost free today, c’mon in!”

I’ve bought items on the beach, or in shops, this way while on vacation. And I always come away, days later, thinking I didn’t get the best deal possible. I also wonder if I got hoodwinked. At least that was the perception.

Here’s the thing about perception. It’s powerful, rightly or wrongly. And it sticks with you. Back home in Canada, my perception of any business that puts out a ‘Special Sale Today’ sign every single day is that it doesn’t sincerely have any ‘special’ sales that day. It’s just a blatant attempt to trick me into coming inside where I may, or may not, be hoodwinked into thinking I’m getting a one-day only deal.

The sales and marketing lessons here are obvious:

  • Be sincere and transparent with your pitches. If you have a ‘Special Sale Today’, say what the ‘special’ deal is so consumers can judge for themselves whether it truly is ‘special to today’.
  • Don’t treat consumers like idiots. Most consumers are savvy enough to notice when your routine — like a daily ‘Special Sale Today’ sign — begins to look gimmicky. Eventually, consumers will see your sign so often that they know it can’t be true.
  • Go to the beach. Yup, seriously. If you really have a Special Sale Today every day, you might be better heading to the beach. Walk up and down the sand. Hawk your ‘deal’ by approaching sun worshippers. This is about the level your ‘Special Sale Today’ belongs, if you’re determined to place such a sign outside your shop every single day.

Or, if your deals are really that special, perhaps you should be trying Groupon. Just saying.