Are you using discounts and incentives in your vegan business? If you are offering classes, retreats, seminars or any other type of event you should be! Why? Two big reasons:

#1 They help to inspire people to sign up early which enables you to get a clear picture of the interest level in what you are offering (which is key to the success of an event in many cases), and

#2 They can help engage your audience and get them excited about what you are offering, which may encourage them to tell their friends, providing some free word-of-mouth advertising for you!

Sounds great, right? But in order to reap these benefits it’s important to go about using this tool strategically to ensure that you DON’T fall victim to some of the more common pitfalls. First off, let me say that every early bird incentive, discount or promotion you offer in your business should be part of a larger strategy. It’s a mistake to decide to offer these things off-the-cuff because there are implications and expectations that are created among your customers/clients, and if you don’t follow through these “incentives” can become more problematic than helpful. So, let’s talk a little bit about what a larger strategy looks like.

Timing

First up, we need to talk about timing, which is critical when you’re putting together an incentives/promotion strategy. What does your timeline look like? How much time do you have to promote your event? Obviously, this will vary depending on the kind of event you are offering — is it a single class, a class series, a day-long retreat, a week-long retreat, a symposium, etc.?

The bigger and more involved your event the more planning it will obviously take, and the longer the timeline you have to work with. A larger event gives you the opportunity to do a promotion that could include a variety of promotional opportunities for people to take advantage of — at 90 days, 45 days, 30 days, 15 days, for example.

PITFALL WARNING! In this situation, make sure that your promotions make sense, meaning they go down in value as the event draws closer. If they don’t, you may end up with unhappy customers on your hands.

Make it clear that the sooner someone signs up, the better the discount/promotion — this only makes sense since the reason you are doing the promotion in the first place is to secure those early commitments.

PITFALL WARNING #2! Be sure to let your promotions expire prior to your event! This creates urgency and the excitement you are looking for.

Using a countdown clock and setting an exact date and time for expiration are other good practices that you can employ here.

Type of Incentive

Keep in mind that a promotion doesn’t always have to be a discount. When you are thinking about the incentives you want to offer, get creative! Think outside the box! Maybe people who sign up early for your event get a free copy of your cookbook, or maybe they get access to a post-event support program that latecomers will have the option to pay for. You can offer bundles (and on a multi-tiered early bird promotion perhaps perhaps the bonus offerings go from 4 to 3 to 2 to 1), upsells, bonuses — or mix things up! The important thing is to keep your promotions interesting and dynamic so that your customers/clients are excited and inspired to act sooner than later.

PITFALL WARNING #3! Be wary of going too deep — especially with discounts. Not only does this have the potential to make your offering unsustainable financially, but when you promote a crazy discount people may start to question the value of what you are offering.

The idea is to make your customers feel that they are getting a good deal, as opposed to making them feel like they are getting something at a bargain basement price.

Standardize It

Once you have put some time into thinking about the timeline of the events you have coming up over the next 6 months or year, and you’ve considered the type of promotions/incentives you are able to (and would like to) offer, now it’s time to come up with a standardized plan so that you don’t feel like you’re reinventing the wheel every time you have a class or event (this is particularly important if you run a lot of events).

You might think about a schedule based on seasonal offerings — for example, New Years, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas are typically times when people are motivated to buy so it’s a great idea to have a standing discount/promotion option in place so you are ready when they come around.

Another option is to base your schedule around countdown to your event (this works especially well for those offering classes of any kind). You know when your classes are scheduled for, so you should be able to easily figure out when a 30-day promotion should start for each one.

Finally, you may want to tie some of your promotions to significant days in your business — like the anniversary of the start of your business, or the founder’s birthday. Again, these are events that happen every year so they are easy to put into your schedule and a great time to offer something special to your clients/customers.

It’s A Wrap

If you haven’t been using incentives and promotions in your business, and your business is conducive to such a tool, I highly recommend giving them a try. But in order to make the most of them make sure you do a little planning, ensure what you’re offering is sustainable by looking at what your incentive means to your bottom line, and put a strategy in place one step at a time so you can really understand the impact the incentives you are offering have on your business.

TAKE ACTION

Based on the ideas above make a list of the events you have that could benefit from the use of a promotion, and brainstorm what kinds of promotions you might use, along with the pros and cons of each type.

This article is part of the Vegan Mainstream Essentials Guide, Making The Sale. Download all the articles in this collection, here:

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