If, When, and How You Should Leverage a Sales Gimmick

Jay Fuchs
Jay Fuchs



I don't know if you've ever thought about this before, but sales and professional wrestling don't have very much in common.

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Actually, the first half of that sentence isn't entirely accurate — I can say with about 99% certainty that you've never thought about that before. But regardless of how absurd that comparison might be, it's still worth unpacking.

There's actually some overlap between the two. Sales and professional wrestling can both be cutthroat. Certain aspects of both can be rehearsed. And they both feature their own variation of something known as a "gimmick."

Now in professional wrestling, a gimmick is essentially a wrestler's character. It can range from a grown man in an enormous turkey costume to a "man's man" who wears a flannel cutoff, jean shorts, and a hardhat with an entrance video and song that deserve to be preserved by the Library of Congress.

As you can assume, sales gimmicks are quite a bit different. Here, we'll learn about what they are, when it's appropriate to leverage one, how to do so effectively, and the steps you can take to generate demand without one.

The term "gimmick" gets a bad rap. It's often cast as some sort of hollow, flashy, one-trick pony-esque tactic or attraction someone with nothing else to offer puts out to grab people's attention here and there.

That connotation is accurate in some cases, but gimmicks aren't always bad — and sales ones are no exception. In the context of sales, the term encompasses a lot of possibilities — some of which are classier and more effective than others. A gimmick could be anything from a limited run of free shipping for an ecommerce site to offering coupons for certain products.

It could suit your interests to employ a gimmick every now and then, but if you choose to use them, they should supplement your sales strategy — not compose it entirely. Gimmicks come with a territory that can be tricky to navigate, and there are some precautions and potential pitfalls you should be mindful of.

Discounting Isn't a Good Call Long Term.

Lowering prices in some way, shape, or form is the basis for a variety of sales gimmicks. It can be an effective way to generate quick demand, but be careful if you do it. Discounting often means running the risk of undermining your sales strategy — particularly in B2B sales.

Discounting can project a lack of confidence in your product or service. It gives the impression that you don't believe in what you're selling enough to sell it at full price. That lack of faith often doesn't go unnoticed. Prospects want to trust your offering. It's not easy to do that when it seems like you don't even trust yourself.

It also sets the expectation for lower prices in the future. By discounting, you're setting a new standard for your business. You've lowered the bar on your perceived value, making your normal price seem like a premium.

Once you've sold your product or service for less than its worth, the discounted price becomes its value to the buyer. It will be harder to convince prospects to pay more for a product or service they've already gotten for a lower price.

Finally — and perhaps most obviously — discounted prices undercut your profits. If you discount your product by 50%, you have to sell twice as much to reach the same revenue target.

Discounting can work in doses, but don't come to rely on it too much.

Flash Sales as a Case Study

If you're planning on using a gimmick to generate quick demand, you can't just throw it together haphazardly and expect results. A poorly coordinated sales gimmick will come off as cheap, be ineffective, or get ignored altogether. Maybe the most fitting example to demonstrate this trend is a tactic known as the flash sale.

A flash sale is a short-term discount or promotion on products offered by ecommerce stores, typically lasting for less than 24 hours. It's one of the more prominent ways to generate quick demand, increase brand awareness and customer loyalty, and get prospects to look at your site as a whole. It's a gimmick that can pay off in spades if done right, but if it's not, your company's reputation could take a serious hit.

A successful flash sale, like any other gimmick, needs to be goal-oriented. There has to be a definitive objective on the other side of the process. That could be something like unloading an excess quantity of a specific product that isn't selling, generating interest in a particular product, or selling certain products to stabilize inventory.

Gimmicks also need to be targeted, and flash sales are no exception. Whichever products you're trying to unload have to be in line with the interests of a preferred market.

You need to pick an audience and offer deals on specific products that they'll be interested in. If you decide on a product without an audience in mind, you won't get the right people on your site.

That brings us to another central component of a successful sales gimmick: promotion. Like any gimmick, a flash sale is designed to generate interest — it's hard to do that if no one is paying attention. In the same way you cater your choice of a featured product for your sale to a particular persona, you have to tailor your messaging to that audience as well.

Promote the sale ahead of time, and let potential customers research your offering on their own. You can do this through promotional social media posts, email marketing, or any other form of targeted advertising to quickly get your preferred customers on your site.

You'll also have to specify a timeframe for the sale. A sales gimmick shouldn't be conflated with a long term sales strategy. It's not sensible or viable to maintain discounts on a consistent, indefinite basis. The operative word in the term "flash sale" is "flash." It pops up to generate quick demand and then disappears. That keeps the gimmick novel and interesting.

A prolonged gimmick stops being a gimmick after a while. It just bleeds into your overall sales strategy, making you look cheap and undermining your sales efforts as a whole.

Finally, sales gimmicks only work if they make sense logistically. If you're promoting a flash sale, you have to know you have the necessary inventory on hand and be sure that you have a solid shipping infrastructure in place to deliver those products shortly after they've been ordered.

A successful flash sale encompasses all of the components of an effective sales gimmick. It has a clear objective with a specific audience, is well-promoted, occurs within a designated time-frame, and makes sense logistically. If you're looking to leverage a sales gimmick, make sure all those bases are covered.

How to Generate Demand without Gimmicks

Know your target audience.

If you're trying to streamline your sales efforts and drive demand without resorting to gimmicks, you'll need to narrow down who you're trying to reach. Creating and understanding detailed buyer personas that fit your prospects is the first step in doing that.

If you understand your audience, you can understand their problems. If you can understand their problems, you can understand the pain points you need to touch on. If you understand the pain points you need to touch on, you can tailor an effective sales strategy to best appeal to that audience.

Honing in on those personas gives you perspective on their interests and day-to-day struggles, allowing you to determine the best way to demonstrate your product or service's value to them. Consistently communicate with your customers via reviews or over social media to keep a pulse on what they want and expect from you.

When you can consistently cater to your ideal personas, you'll be able to drive demand naturally — without resorting to gimmicks.

Cultivate a reputation through reviews.

A solid reputation is an invaluable asset in sales. You want the world to know that your business consistently delivers the results your customers need. But how can you do that? How can you convey the value of your business to prospects that are only hearing about you for the first time?

Well, pursuing and collecting reviews is a good place to start. Establish a presence on different social media sites and platforms like Google Business. Strategically ask for reviews from customers — be that through natural conversation, in response to praise, through an email blast, after an online purchase, or any other unobtrusive way you can think of to capture a customer's enthusiasm about your company.

Leverage social selling techniques.

Social selling is the process of researching, connecting, and interacting with prospects and customers over social media networks — most notably Twitter and LinkedIn. You can start your social selling efforts by fleshing out and optimizing your social media profiles. Ensure that all the information you're projecting over social media is up-to-date and complete.

Join groups on platforms like LinkedIn and other forums relevant to your space. See if you can actively contribute to the discussions that take place within them. Provide valuable insight without overtly plugging your product or service. In a similar vein, create and share enriching, industry-relevant content to establish your credibility.

Maintain a constructive discourse with customers and prospects through the comment sections on your posts. That way, you can gain more perspective on what your followers want to hear about and offer more information about your business.

There are a number of other tips and tricks you can leverage to sustain a successful social selling effort. You can learn more about them in this article.

If there's any advice worth taking on gimmicks it's this — give them a lot of thought and careful consideration. Don't be too quick to resort to them, and if you do, make sure you have a solid plan in place and an understanding that the gimmick shouldn't last forever. Meanwhile, there are other strides you can take to help generate demand consistently and organically without them.

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