Some say it’s like buying a pig in a poke. Others value that they’ll be first to use a long-awaited product. And yet presale is a sales model that works – especially in specific industries, like event organisation or video games. What are the reasons to organise a presale? Is it always a good idea?

Why it’s worth trying

Proper presale planning isn’t easy. You should really take your time to do it right. After all, it’s our – marketers and salesmen – job to show customers, that pre-ordering is beneficial for them. If we manage to do that, we’ll find more than one reason to say “yes” to a product presale!

First: Financial Fluidity

A presale means money. Long story short: a producer gets payment before a product even comes out. Yes, it’s risky – unhappy customers can loudly express their dissatisfaction. Especially when their expectations were sky-high before. On the other hand, it’s pure profit, and if you’re sure that your product is good and will fulfil the promise you gave to your future customers, bad things shouldn’t happen.

Also, crowdfunding platforms show us that presales can give us the possibility to start production. If you convince your future customers to pay you for an idea, then they may actually finance your product.

Second: Supply and Demand

Launching a pre-order lets you evaluate interest in your product. Keep in mind that a presale is just a fraction of the general sales, but this little part will tell you more than dozens of online surveys or user activity on your social media channels.

Third: Bond. With Your Clients.

CRM, which stands for Customer Relationship Management, is often underestimated by salesmen. Still, it’s a rather important part of our job. Direct your presale marketing campaign to loyal customers first. Inform them about additional content you offer or give them the opportunity to buy your product even before regular preorder stats. By doing so, you’re sending a signal: you are important. Such actions are being performed by artist’s fanclubs, for example.

Fourth: Bigger Interest

If you run your presale campaign properly, then you can significantly boost interest on your product. Those who order before an official premiere should get a special offer, and this – if it’s really valuable – will help your users spread the word about it on their social media channels.

Fifth: Versatility

Although in this article I’m mainly referring to specific examples of pre-sales, an offer like this can be used in many different industries… and it can be a hit!

Dompress experts say without a doubt: “In most cases the last apartment gets sold before we even finish the construction”. Pre-ordering before regular sale dates is a common practice in the auto industry, too. It mostly involves vehicles that are being premiered, but are still not in their mass production stage.

Pre-sale analytics chart

Pre-sale risk

Every element of a marketing and sales campaign, including pre-orders, is risky at some point, for customers as well as for sellers. What should we keep in mind in particular?

  • Too low a price in relation to costs – that’s not the case in producing smaller products, where pre-sales start a few weeks before regular distribution. But the housing industry, for example, is a completely different story. The costs of building a housing development are variable throughout the year. They depend on many different factors. The same thing goes for cars. If you sell them, you have to predict changes using your experience and knowledge of the market.
  • Presenting features that don’t end up in a final product – this may lead to customer dissatisfaction. For some of them, the missing feature could be the key one. Try to show only things that can be implemented and that you’re 100% sure about.
  • Regular sales cannibalisation – sometimes a very successful pre-sale lowers the regular sales of other products, because it catches most of the attention. This why you should plan your pre-order campaign in advance – it’s better not to have it coincide with other promotional actions.

How to communicate a pre-sale

Advertising banner in the city center

According to a well-known rule, we’ve got to be cautious about information spreading. The word about the possibility of pre-order has to reach everyone interested. How can we communicate a pre-sale to our customers and users?

  • Build a landing page – it’s still the most popular way to advertise special offers – and there’s a reason for it. A simple, well-designed landing page will guide internet users directly to a current offer and it will do it effectively, mainly because there aren’t any distractors – ads, related posts or suggestions. Landing pages should convert much better than an ordinary online shop subpage or a post in social media newsfeed.
  • Advertising banner – Advertising space on industry websites isn’t cheap, but it offers the ability to reach many interested users in return. A banner ad should direct people to a landing page as mentioned before. This should be where users learn more about your product and where they can place an order.
  • Social Media – reminding people to promote their pre-sale on social media is like reminding them to take a toothbrush on vacation. Not to be Captain Obvious, but… anyone can be forgetful. Publish on every social media channel you’ve got your profile on, and remember to create different content for each – don’t duplicate! Also, keep in mind that pre-orders can (and should) be communicated on 24-hour stories (both on Facebook and Instagram).
  • Video – a short film, video presentation, or a trailer of a product will help your customers to make a decision, if it’s worth it to trust your brand and order a product before release. Focus on the most important benefits, pay attention to what you have to offer your pre-sale customers.

In many cases, product pre-sale is an idea that can bring tangible benefits for the seller and customers as well. Keep in mind that a good pre-order shows exactly what a client will get, competes in price with regular sales and is properly promoted, both online and offline.

Pre-sale examples

Events

Event ticket

There are industries that don’t function without pre-sales. A concert organisation for example. In extreme cases tickets for an event can (or have to!) be bought almost a year before day zero! That’s the story of Metallica’s Worldwired Tour – fans could buy their tickets eleven months before the concerts! Worth mentioning – every Metallica concert has a closed pre-sale for MetClub members before anyone else. It’s one of the key benefits for their fanclubbers.

The main factor of pre-sale success is limited availability. Both customers and promoters know well, that every concert has a finite number of seats and standing places. Usually this number is too low and there is a group of fans, who can’t get tickets for their favourite artist or sports team, left behind. And it’s not only in the case of the biggest stars. Sometimes the lesser-known bands come to town to play in a smaller venue. If it gets sold-out, it remains that way. Unless the gig is moved to a bigger place.

Video games and music

Other industries where the pre-sale model is successfully implemented are video games and music. In times of digital distribution and streaming services there is no such thing as limited availability, which I’ve mentioned before. Quite the contrary! Games and music in the form of downloadable files are physically unlimited.

Of course they are still being released in physical form, but it is becoming more a nod to conservative fans, used to collecting their favorite artists and game studio releases. Anyway, customers have to get something – collectible gadgets, a discount for a next order, access before official release or other benefits – to thank them for their trust.

In the most classic approach, a pre-sale involves collector’s editions – strictly limited (e.g. up to 500 pieces) releases filled with additional content. In that case, a customer has something to fight for, because together with a product, he is promised exclusivity. All we need to do is to make sure that this promise is fulfilled.

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