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President Obama took the oath of office this week (twice, just to be sure), it’s likely going to be some time before the economy is back to where the Dow tops 14,000 again. One of the quickest ways to increase business in a tight economy is to use incentives to get people to take action. Most people immediately think of discounts, and these can be effective: Signup by Wednesday and get 10% off the project, Buy One, Get One Free, 50% Off Sale, Free Shipping for orders over $100.

However, incentives don’t have to be just discounts. One of our clients prefers not to use discounts, because their clients might then wait before making a purchase until the next marketing campaign. Instead, another way to entice people is to throw in something extra if they signup. For example, we have a new module for our PageDirector content management system that automatically detects if someone is visiting the site from a mobile platform (such as an iPhone or Blackberry), and delivers a mobile-optimized version of the site. Something like this will take us a few hours to install and adapt, but including for free could be the factor that tips them in. Another enticement could be one that’s based on timing.

For example, if we know we’re going to have a couple of days in between other projects, we can tell clients that while it would normally take 2-3 weeks to turn something around, if we’re able to get started on their project by the end of the week, we can turn it around in 4-5 days. Finally, payment terms can often make a difference, too. In this difficult economic climate, banks are hesitant to lend money. Breaking up a project into six monthly payments can sometimes mean a client can afford your price without having to secure additional financing.

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