How to Offer Promos Without Going Broke


As I write this we just wrapped up Black Friday weekend. My inbox overfloweth with emails offering all sorts of discounts and specials. I'm sure yours looks the same.

As a business owner you probably feel compelled to offer some sort of deal, but maybe you just aren't sure what to offer. After all, you need to make money too! can we not "give away the farm" and still have a successful boost in sales? Glad you asked!

For starters, I'll say if you don't feel aligned to offer anything...don't. In fact, I got an email from Vermont Flannel Company (their flannels are so incredibly wonderful!) that simply said, "Hey, get your shopping done online with us and then relax the rest of the day." No coupon, no deals, just a reminder that they exist and they feel good about the product they sell. 

But, if you do want to offer something there are plenty of options.

Be forward thinking.

This is especially easy if you offer a recurring service. Yoga studio? Fitness center? Dog trainer/walker? Photographer? You can easily offer a reduced rate for the upcoming year in limited quantities.

People are beginning to think about giving experiences more than just "things" for the holidays. If you offer a service, use this to your advantage. Since the holidays are right on the cusp of the new year, forward fill your year with clients. And keep in mind, a lot of people use these specials to prepay things for themselves, and not just gifts. This means money in your pocket now, and something to look forward to for your clients. 

Here are some examples:

  • Offer a monthly contract rate at a lower price, but make it contingent on a year membership. So instead of $129/month for your gym/yoga studio membership, make it $99 and only offer that for a very short window of time or only a certain amount of spots.

  • Offer reduced rate class cards or bundles. If you don't have a monthly membership program, offer some amazing deals to reward the people who are regulars, or want to start attending your classes more in the new year.

  • If you have a service like dog training/dog walking, you can offer a bundle on your services with some bonuses added. For instance, pre-pay for a certain amount of training sessions or walks and get one for free, or get a free night of boarding. There are so many other options with this one, but those are just a few examples.

  • If you do photography, encourage people to prepay the deposit for their photo session in the upcoming year and offer something extra. Could be an overall discount or free prints. This would be especially good if you have clients who are expecting babies or like to do family photos every year. Also a great way for grandparents to gift a session to be sure they get current photos in the new year.

  • Tattoo artist? Offer discounts with gift certificates. You could have get $125 in work for just $100, or other ratios that suit your clientele and your business goals. Chances are the person redeeming that certificate will get something that costs more than $125, so you'll get money now, and more money later.

Think adding, not subtracting.

What if your profit margin is fairly slim? What if you seriously cannot afford deep discounts or free shipping? What if you simply don't want to go that route? 

Fret not! We are not all Amazon, and we don't need to be either. Do what works for you!

If you sell a physical product, here are some ideas for you to help you sell more, without giving it all away for free. Focus on incentivizing larger purchases rather than a discount across the board. 

  • If you sell small, consumable items (food, personal care, makeup, etc.) offer "bundles" that help people save money. For instance, if you sell skincare products, you can offer a discount when someone purchases a "set" of products. My friend Jillian does this frequently, and I was just able to get my mother-in-law a lotion, cuticle balm, and body scrub together for a discount. In fact, I may not have bought all three, but I was enticed by the deal, so I took advantage of it!

  • Include freebies when a customer spends a certain amount. Remember the Clinique gift-with-purchase? You spend a certain amount and then get the little gift pouch with goodies? My mom would drag me to Macy's every single time they ran that promo. Often my mom would buy extra things just to cross the threshold to get the free gift. Even when I know a place is tempting me to spend more so my order ships free or so I can unlock some special bonus, I still fall for this all the time and rarely regret it.

  • Create exclusive items that can only be purchased seasonally. My son has been a fan of LEGO his whole life, and we buy new sets every year at Christmas (he's now 13). Each year they offer advent calendars and they are never the same from year to year. They also make special, seasonal sets that you can add onto your order, and special ornaments when you spend over $50. Use my info on "hype" and limited-time-only products to help drive sales, instead of deep discounts.

  • Use this as an opportunity to clear out older inventory. Have items from last season's collection still sitting around? Why not create a special around them? Your customer might be shopping your site to get gifts for a few people. Maybe she even has that item from when you first offered it, and realizes she has a friend who would love it. Include that at a deep discount with a purchase, and she's likely to add it to her cart to check another person off her list.

Go your own way.

Heed Fleetwood Mac's advice and do what feels right for you! It's your business after all, and just because "everyone" is doing something, doesn't mean you need to as well. Dealing with the opinions of others in business can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be. You do you.

Does the thought of changing up your promos between Black Friday and Cyber Monday stress you out? No worries! You don't need to offer a different special for each of those four days. Heck, you could run it all the way through the following week if you want.

Want to do something special for #GivingTuesday? Go for it! If there's a cause your business already supports, or a cause near and dear to your heart, let your customers know that part of their purchases on Tuesday will be going toward that organization. Don't feel scared to follow up and show them how much was raised too. Even if it's $50, let them know how much it means to you.

Lastly, don't forget to make a really great impression with your customers as you are selling to them this season.

Go the extra mile. Offer the free gift wrap. Include the hand-written thank you note. Toss in an unexpected coupon for the next year. Throw in that small extra freebie they weren't expecting. Make sure the gift recipient knows how to contact you for future orders as well, because when you have a great customer experience plan with little touches like this, they will be coming back for more.

I want to hear any great promos you've been offering. Make sure to tell me in the comments or in my Facebook group so we can keep the conversation going!

If you need personalized sales tips or want to see if we'd be a good fit for a custom growth plan, I’d love for you to book a free call with me.

In the meantime, be sure to download my free guide to help you start selling smarter this week!


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