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Support small business; don’t share subscriber discounts

It’s the season for customer appreciation, and in the yarnie small-business world, that often means special offers. Let’s talk about the economics of these offers and specifically why people shouldn’t share subscriber-only discount codes.

Newsletters are free, so theoretically, anyone could sign up and get the same value. Why not share the discounts in forums or on social media? Because to be feasible, discounts need to be offset by the financial benefit newsletter subscribers bring. 

Newsletters build brand loyalty and showcase products to customers who have shown an interest. This targeted advertising brings more sales per view than social media. That’s why your favorite yarnie businesses go to the trouble of creating newsletters. It is labor, for which they are compensated through increased sales.

Designers and dyers do a lot of math, and that includes predicting the impact of a discount code. They want to give supporters a meaningful thank you, and at the same time, not go broke. When determining the best discount they can offer, the biggest factor is the size of the mailing list. 

When codes are posted online, the economics quickly go out the window. Discounted sales rise exponentially, without the corresponding increase in regular sales driven by a newsletter. 

But isn’t sharing codes exposing makers to new potential customers? Unfortunately, people who snap up free patterns and yarn discounts rarely become repeat customers. They are on to the next freebie, but not before creating additional customer service labor by requesting pattern support or inquiring about shipping times.

Shouldn’t technology solve this? We should be better stewards of the small businesses we love, rather than expecting them to better arm themselves against theft. Yarnie small businesses fall off the map every day, because it’s already a struggle to make money in this space. As to the technology, small businesses have to work within the limitations of their cart providers, so it’s harder to implement things like unique one-time-use codes.

In response to code sharing, dyers and designers resort to lower or patron-only discounts, very short discount periods, even ending discounts early, to the detriment of the customers they intended to thank. 

It may seem like a nice thing to do to share the bounty from a great newsletter you signed up for, but it isn’t. Please keep the bigger picture in mind, and support the small businesses we love.