C.E.O., Gobloc Insulting
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Basic Literature is a corporate satire blog, updated with satirical and humorous commentary on the corporate world, including career advice, management tips, business strategies and marketing tactics.
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Retailing: Clever Tactics Targeting The Not-So Clever

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My company, Gobloc Insulting, recently received a new client who stated their desire to expand their retail businesses.

Therefore we came out with a comprehensive proposal that uses confusing jargons and over-hyped terms to convince (fool) them that they should heed our advice (and pay us).

Here is 1 part of the proposal that would be beneficial to my beloved readers- it's on how to increase sales in retail businesses, based on the common trade practices around.

They'll rush in even before you decide to sell
Be prepared for over-the-top demand

Limited stock/time only

Displaying prominently the message that any offer such as free gifts or price reduction is for a very limited time, or buyer, will create a sense of paranoia among customers to rush in and buy quickly. If you have billions of stocks left to clear, it will be more helpful if you state the following lines in your ads:

20 5 units left

Paranoid level will double with fake statistics.

Out of stock - Bait and Switch - Upselling

Promoting something that is ridiculously-priced, then telling your customer that the item is out of stock (due to high demand) is a good way to gain prospects. Use the opportunity to sell something more expensive with better margin. Don't be disappointed if some of them refuse to buy. The margin should be enough to consider the campaign a success.

.99 price points

One of the most consistent, proven yet simple technique to earn sales. You heard millions of people expressing their discontent of such psychological pricing tactic, but the fact that it has been used for decades proves that customers are not that aware of how much 0.01 cent means.

Discounts/Freebies before-hand

Offering freebies or discounts even before they start deciding to buy your product is a good way to tie them in. Customers will feel obliged to see through the deal because of:
  1. The pride because you consider him a worthy prospect
  2. The guilt that you see him as a confirmed buyer ("Must be something I did")
  3. The lack of guts to say "No" and disappoint/anger you
Denying ownership/supervisory role

If you're locked into a situation where your customer is very talented in negotiating a price, always mention that
  1. You're not the boss
  2. The price is set by your boss
  3. You'll get fired if the boss knows you're reducing the selling price
If it still fail, or your customer is leaving without purchasing, just give them the discount (pick a price point between yours and theirs) and tell them don't tell your boss or you risk loosing your job by 'helping' him.

Lucky/Selected Customers

When you're giving a customer a discount (because of price negotiations), always close the deal with "I'm giving this only to you because you seem like a good customer" and follow with "Don't tell anybody else that I gave you this". Customers will be flattered and hallucinate that he/she is getting a preferential treatment from your business. They'll come again.


Contrary to what you hear that some (even you yourself) often say that they're not as gullible as before, and often quick to detect any cliche that might trick them, these selling points still work.

The people you hear disclosing their immunity against such tactics are the wise consumers- wise enough to make their voice heard. But you won't hear consumers who brag about how they like being fooled by these tactics. The fact that so many businesses still enjoy revenues from these tactics means that:

  • There is a substantial number of gullible consumers
  • And, people who voice their opinion are always the minority
  • Thus, silent majority applies
  • Therefore, majority of consumers are gullible
  • Which, confirms these tactics work
If your business is targeting the very limited, intelligent type of consumers...I pity you.

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Some really good tips here. Thanks

Some great tips you have offered for those in the retail industry. It really brings me back to the days when I was a teen and working at the Gap. When confronted by customers who demanded a discount I too relied on the good ol' "I'm sorry but the prices are set by the boss; I'm not the boss," tactic. Works like a charm.


Love Hina Gallery

Hunt Fish, u're welcome.

Sakutheotaku, even if we're the boss, never admit it. It's one of the classic excuse to shut the customer up..

the .99 is an old trick but it still works. and not only in retail ... sometime when I am forced to revise selling prices of some our merchandise that we sell in export quantities I have to play with the psychological levels ... going from 4.60 to 5.05 will without doubt result in loud yelling from buyer. if I only raise the price to 4.95 I will be usually OK ... this will make the buyer ready for the next increase to 5.05 :-)

huhu. siap ada calculation, but again... kite tak paham.

btw, zedd faham kan kite taip broken malay sblm2 ni. kadang risau gak, takut zedd tak paham jerk :p

Great marketing tips. All of them are very powerful in its own way.

Bizgiftguru, pretty amusing how people becomes disillusioned by a mere price-point. I know cashiers hate those pricing strategies..

Ayumi, no problem. As long as you don't speak Tuareg or Swahili. Then I'll have problems.

MarketingDeviant, thanks.

The lack of guts to say "No" and disappoint/anger you

Ha! These people should never be let out of their homes. Ever. (obviously for their own good and not the good of the retailers, in which case the retailers have those other groups to victimi- er, target.

These sure brings back memories when I used to be a salesgirl who pestered people in restaurants/sidewalks/offices/whay-have-you, selling bargain one-time-only not-to-be-missed goods. Ahhh nostalgia...

Funny tips AGAIN..
I have realized that from your tips,it will be useful not for the SALESPEOPLE..but also for the FOOL customers!!!

To sell product is not too easy.I feel proud in sense that from difficulty,lot of critical thinker(especially those who are salespeople and maybe you Zedd!)have innovate good products and the important thing is the IDEA on how to sell it.

To know on how people think and react towards the idea is MORE important.Good Zedd,such a good advisor.

Elly m, sadly, these people are everywhere. Otherwise salespeople couldn't make a living today.

@lienz, the problem is we're coming up with selling ideas faster than we create good products. And you know what's even faster? the growth of gullible consumers.

nice reading there, thank for sharing

These advices are very deceiving... but somehow, customers still take the bait. Everybody must have gone through or seen at least one of these.
The 'lucky customer' tactic is very cunning. :D

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