How to Make People Buy From You Even If You Have No Brand

So I went to Levis to buy some jeans the other day.

I walked into the store, headed over to the jeans section, and started browsing. After looking through most of what they had on display, I pinpointed 2 pairs that I really liked.

I tried them on.

And my god, I looked stunningly handsome in them (yes I am super confident and have no humility). So I ended up buying those 2 pairs of jeans.

After my purchase, the lady at the cashier gave me 2, limited-time, $25 coupons for shirts and shoes. Instinctively, I went to check out some shirts and shoes.

The shoes were not great, but a few shirts caught my eye so I tried them on. And yes, I looked good in them yet again, but this time, not as good as I would like. This time, it wasn’t good enough for me to pull out my wallet again (hey even celebrities look average in some clothes).

So I thanked the sales staff for their service and left the store. Sounds like a normal shopping day right? Well, almost.

A few days later, as I looked through my wallet and saw the limited-time coupons from Levis, something hit me. That fine day in the Levis store, I almost ended up buying something I didn’t need (shirts) just because of those coupons!

If it wasn’t for the fact that I didn’t really like the shirts after trying them on, I would have probably spent extra money. In other words, if I happened to look like a million dollars in the shirts I tired on (happens quite often), I most definitely would have bought them.

The coupons were a non-salesy upsell strategy, and I almost bought into it. Of course, handing out limited-time coupons or vouchers to customers is nothing new.

We all know about them. However, I don’t think people truly understand the persuasive powers of limited-time coupons. The persuasive power of limited-time coupons is two fold.

The first one is obviously scarcity. The fact that the coupon will not last forever is a great reason for customers to act fast because they’ll be thinking they won’t get a chance to save money on your products again. And if they don’t use the coupons, they’ll think the coupons will “go to waste.”

The second is less obvious.

It’s the reverse psychology of letting you think that you’re saving money, when in fact, you’re NOT. Why? Because you could be spending more on things you weren’t intentionally looking for in the first place. When I went to Levis, I was only looking to buy jeans.

I was not looking to buy T-shirts. But just because I received a couple of coupons, I was compelled to buy something extra. With the combination of these 2 persuasive elements, my mind was framed into thinking…

“Hmmm… since I have this coupon, not using it would be a waste wouldn’t it? Having more shirts to wear is always a good thing, and it could go well with my new jeans! Plus I can save some money when I buy the shirts! Yay! Think I’ll go look at some shirts…”

Persuaded. And the best part?

The whole process is not salesy at all. It’s almost like stealth persuasion. People don’t feel any form of sales resistance when they are given coupons.

They don’t have the feeling of being “sold to.” In fact, they have the feeling of being “GIVEN to.” Sales resistance is almost zero. When people’s sales resistance is low, they are more likely to buy.

Compare receiving coupons to having a salesman persuade you to buy more stuff and you’ll see my point. So this has got me thinking.

Why aren’t more people doing this online? Instead of sending people to a totally hyped-up upsell page, why not just send people a limited-time coupon code for other related products after their purchase?

Giving out coupons doesn’t scream, “Come buy this now or you’ll freaking lose your house!”

It’s not salesy, it’s not hype. It’s giving your prospects a chance to sell themselves. And that’s what I like about it.

The key is to give out coupons for related or complementary products to the product they’ve just bought. Doing so would make the coupon even more persuasive because a related product helps them solve their problems further, and they’ll be thinking, “Since I have a coupon, I might as well use it. Not using it is a waste anyway!”

So persuasive, yet so stealthy. To be sure, I have never tried this before online. I’d have to test it out to see it’s effectiveness on the overall bottom line.

Till then, I’ll follow up with another blog post to tell you about the results. For now, I’d love to hear your comments on this. What do you think? Do you think more online businesses can take advantage of using limited-time coupons as an upsell strategy?

Shane Yuen
Co-Founder, Managing Director
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