You know what makes a ProDeals program or influencer program successful from your company’s perspective; You’re looking for new customers, more orders, increased revenue, and good buzz. But what’s in it for the pros? We interviewed five individuals from a variety of disciplines who are eligible for pro purchase programs (and one guy who admits to using the infamous “BroDeal”) to find out what they want from your ProDeals program.
Who we interviewed:
Dan H, professional firefighter
Taylor S- professional rock climber
Bruce- mountaineer, Mazamas member, Technical Animal Rescue team member (OHSTAR)
Aron S- rock climbing guide
Julianne- yoga instructor
Jeff N- poseur
1. What factors make certain ProDeals great?
Our panel agrees that companies need to consistently offer significant discounts on quality products. Programs that enable participants to log into online accounts and that are easy to use are also popular. Deep discounts and sales are also noteworthy:
“Patagonia has a pro-purchase program, and their discount was 50% off, so essentially I bought all of my clothes from them. They’re the best company for pro-purchase that I know of.” Taylor S
“Some companies offer even lower prices at certain times of the year (prodeal sales events).” Aron S
On the flip side, three participants noted that brands that are perceived as snobby, stingy, or only offered their discounts in-store made a negative impression. Discounts that are small, only available for a limited time (like 3 months out of the year), or are limited to a specific amount or type of merchandise were not well-received.
“I cannot get the discount if I shop online. I have to go into the store – show my member card – and then I can shop online from the store. Lame.” Julianne M
2. In general, what is the process for getting a ProDeal?
All of the pros noted that in order to receive pro pricing, they were required to fill out an application. The application process varied widely from brand to brand. Some companies have online forms, others require you to email a specific contact at a company. In some cases, our pros had to show credentials in person. They reported that the application process can be very frustrating.
“I usually check company websites to see which ones offer prodeals and eligibility requirements. If I’m eligible, then I’ll fill out the application. Sometimes you have to give your email to someone in the company, and you’ll have to be invited to the program.” Dan H
“I applied online. It was not very clear what they wanted. I actually had to do it twice because I failed the first time, and it took a week to hear back.” -Julianne M
And as our respondent who has used ProDeals but isn’t actually eligible for them demonstrated, the application process doesn’t necessarily prevent ineligible consumers from using the discounts.
“I’ve typically used friends’ prodeals, I have not had my own access from companies that are of interest to me.” Jeff N
Only one participant mentioned joining an online community that publishes manufacturer’s pro purchase offers.
3. Have you ever had to wait to get approved?
All five reported that they have always had to wait for approval before they were able to place an order. While the length of the approval process varied from a few days to two weeks, most agreed that a week was too long to wait.
“It can be a lengthy process unless the company has the process streamlined.” Taylor S
“I always assume it’ll take longer and am surprised when it happens quickly.” Dan H
4. Have you ever had a negative experience with trying to get a ProDeal, or with shopping after you’ve been approved?
After the approval process, some brands made it easier than others to receive pro pricing. Each company has their own process in place for submitting orders.
“Either you have a an account with a company and a contact there that you make purchases through, or you receive a physical form or online url to purchase.” Taylor S
Three out of the five reported bad experiences trying to complete a pro purchase. Bad experiences were generally defined by how long it took for a company to process or approve a submitted purchase. Dan H had the worst experience of the bunch:
“One company didn’t have an online ordering system so I had to edit a PDF file and submit by snail-mail or email. Then items that I was told were in stock turned out to be out of stock. Items were placed on backorder for months without any notice. Some items were discontinued even though there website said they were available.” Dan H
5. Do you shop more often with the brands that offer you a ProDeal? Would you continue to shop with them even if you weren’t eligible any longer?
“Yes– and yes.” Julianne M
“I definitely buy more of a certain brand due to the prodeal, and I will try to buy exclusively from those companies. I end up being outfitted head-to-toe in one brand. If the quality of the product meets or exceeds my expectations then I’ll definitely buy more without the prodeal.” Dan H
“I shop more when I can get a prodeal. I would continue to shop with them if I really needed their specific product, but might seek other alternatives first that offer prodeals.” Aron S
6. Does getting a ProDeal from a company always mean that you recommend the brand to friends and family?
It turns out that offering a prodeal doesn’t automatically result in recommendations. Our pros draw the line at recommending products that they don’t like or wouldn’t use personally. However, they noted that pro purchase programs allow them to try out gear they might not buy otherwise and to buy higher quality gear which they’re more likely to recommend.
“No, if the product is not good, I won’t recommend it.” Aron S
“Whenever you can try a product for it’s intended use, you’ll be able to speak to it on a different level. Everything I’ve bought on pro purchase, I’ve been a huge fan of and speak really highly of.” Taylor S
“I see it as a privilege and so I’ll try to promote the gear amongst friends. It allows me to buy gear I wouldn’t necessarily always buy at full price and so I end up with higher quality items that I enjoy talking about to friends.” Dan H
“I don’t think I would be an influencer for a product/company that I would not recommend.” Julianne M
7. If you could offer advice to companies about their ProDeal Program what would it be?
Four out of five respondents advised brands to make the application and order process quick, simple, and painless. They also mentioned that offering pro pricing on the widest variety of products possible and treating pros with respect are key components.
“Make the ordering process easy. Sometimes some products offered retail aren’t offered on prodeal…understandable but it’d be nice if all products were covered.” Dan H
“Make the approval quick and easy, then have a special online login where we can see the prodeal pricing, and make orders easy.” Aron S
“Don’t just offer certain deals on certain items. That’s crappy, and it shows that the company is crappy. Good companies take care of the people that help build their brand.” Taylor S
8. Which companies are your favorites for prodeals?
Osprey, Patagonia, MSR, Dynafit, Black Diamond, Eddie Bauer, DaKine, Smith, Athleta, Prana, Petzl, and Mammut all scored high marks with our panel.
Admittedly, six interviewees is a limited sample size, but there were some definite trends in their responses. If you want to create a pro purchase program that your influencers will love, focus on simplifying your application and order processes. Our respondents preferred programs that allowed them to apply, view available products, see pricing, and complete their transactions online.
However, even a quick, easy process won’t ensure success if you aren’t offering high quality products at a great price. As long as you’re selling products they like and treating pros with respect, giving them a significant discount is worth it in the long run. They will order higher quality gear more often than they would without the pro discount, and they will recommend your products to their family, friends, students, and clients.
If you’re interested in streamlining your application process, we can help. We can also prevent poseurs like Jeff from using your discounts. Find out how.
Photo Credit: Pexels
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