I want to start an online service, and to drum up support for my brand, i want to give free services for a day. However, I read that discounts are not good for a brand. Will this hurt my brand image? What are my alternatives? Please consider my marketing budget is very low. Thanks.
Not at all. To me your suggestion is not discounting - it is a free trial period for potential customers to try out your product.
And you want to limit it to a one day test. In my view, you could go up to a week without devaluating - especially if you integrate it with a testplan, so you show the potential customers how they can quickly clarify, whether your product is for them or not.
The risky discounting is the type, where you give f.eks. 25% discount for the first three months, thereby making people used to a lower price, and by increasing the price you create a situation, that will make them look for alternatives.
Alternatives are a om hard to know, when I am not familiar with your market, but here goes some general suggestions that should get your ideas flowing.
Your ultimate goal should be to be the service, that knows the most about this market. People should look to your service as not only a service but as a source of advice and knowledge:
- Discussion groups on web (like clarity.fm or Quora) - solve issues for people, and mention your service as the solution.
- Establish a newsletter or website about topics, that are interesting to your prospects, where they would get benefit from their participation by itself. Use the traffic to lead into your solution. It could be about the technical or business side of your service.
Physical promotion -
- Phone promotion - call them - either yourself or through lead generation services - you provide prospects, they will call through them and book meetings for you. (Could be pricey, though).
- "Physical" promotion - have a seminar, webinar or slideshare - depending on your physical closeness to your prospoects - where you present how ingenious your solution is compared to your competitors.
- Affiliates - have other agents sell for you with a no pain-no gain-model. Maybe there are people, who already visit or have contact with your prospective clients, and your solution would maybe enhance their brand as well through synergy? Could also be through your network, where your emotional connection replaces the professional connection from the affiliate.
- Member-get-member - existing users of your business get a commission for attracting new members. Would also be an indicator of satisfaction with your brand, as unhappy customers do not recommend.
- If you are up for it, create videos about your subject matter. It takes time, but it is a relatively cheap way of getting your message out to your audience as most people just write emails or websites.
- Depending on the general interest for your subject matter, you could also create a podcast, where you invite experts in to discuss relevant topics for your online service. All this could also sharpen your idea of what you want to be for whom.
- Promote your service on Linkedin, Facebook, slideshare or whichever social media, your prospects are on. Write articles about your subject matter on those platforms. Again, be the guy who knows the most.
I wish you the best of luck with your venture. If you need clarification for any of this, let me know.