You love what you do and the solution you offer clients. You truly care. You want to help people and improve the planet. That’s why you got into the wellness industry in the first place.
But does helping others mean you have to give your services away in order to be successful?
Personally, I’m not a fan of discounting. Your time and your services have value and there are people out there who will value what you offer as much as you do. If you don’t have confidence in your pricing, why should anyone else?
That being said, some businessfolk need help attracting clients and find that discounting is a great way to get feet in the door. Let’s take a look at the bigger picture…
Determining Your Goal
Before offering a discount, the first thing to do is determine your goal. If you offer a sale, what are you hoping to get out of it? A certain # of new clients? A certain $ amount? More of a certain package sold?
Be specific in knowing what you want to achieve, so you’ll know if you reach that goal (or not). Here’s an example.
Say you want to book 10 new appointments from your offer. How many new and how many returning clients would you like? Set your goal, then track who comes in. After the special has ended, look back at your numbers and review how you did. Did you reach your initial goal? If yes, the sale worked. If no, it didn’t.
But there’s more to think about than just the numbers.
An important question to ask when offering a sale: is the discount attracting the right types of people to your business (i.e. your ideal clients)? Most discounts – especially Groupon – attract sale shoppers who hop from business to business chasing the next deal.
Is this really the type of customer you want to work with? If not, perhaps your money and energy are better spent on other marketing activities that attract more of your ideal clients, also known as people who value your contribution to the world.
Let’s say the sale does attract some of your ideal clients. Once you get feet in the door, what are you doing to keep them coming back?
Discounts can be a useful way to get clients in the door. But once they come in, are they rebooking with you, or are they only coming in for the discount? Here’s an example.
I have a client, an acupuncture clinic, who ran a Groupon and received far more responses than they ever expected. The coupon was for 4 sessions, which meant they had to fit 50+ people into their schedule 4x each.
Groupon requires you to discount your services significantly, and you only receive 50% of the amount that customers pay for the coupon. And research shows that 78% of Groupon customers won’t even come back.
So for their next 200+ appointments, the acupuncturists were busy. And guess how much they made off of each appointment? Diddly. Feet came in the door, but money was going out the whole time.
But this tale does have a happy ending. In the course of those 4 appointments with each Groupon customer, the acupuncturists asked the clients if they had health insurance.
For those that said yes, the practitioners did an insurance verification, then converted those folks to insurance-paid clients. Voila’, new regular clients. A brilliant strategy that paid off for their client retention in the long run.
If you don’t take insurance, you’ll need a good customer retention strategy. If clients like your service and are seeing positive results from working with you, ask them to recommend you to others.
When is Discounting a Good Idea?
Is there any circumstance where discounting is a good idea? Yes. There’s one instance where I do think that discounting can benefit your business. And that’s offering a thank-you to your regular clients for referrals.
For example, you might offer your clients something such as, refer 2 people, get $20 off your next session. Be sure to send a thank-you and the gift certificate or coupon after the two referrals have come in for appointments with you. If you send it before, the new people may not actually come in – then you’ve left money on the table and not received anything in return.
Don’t Be a Deal Addict
A deal addict is someone who constantly offers sales.
There is no need to constantly offer a discount in order to attract new clients. If you price your services correctly – at a rate competitive to similar services in your area – you don’t need to constantly discount.
In fact, always offering a sale degrades the value of your services, and communicates to the world that you don’t have confidence in your prices. Make discounting a special event, not a constant occurrence.
When you charge full price for your services, you’ll need to attract fewer clients to make the same amount of money than if you were discounting. You might be surprised how many people will actually pay full price for your services, and appreciate the value you bring to the table.
The Bottom Line
Before offering a sale, first decide what you want to accomplish from the offer. Yes, discounting can be a great way to get feet in the door, but will it actually attract the types of clients you want to work with? And once those customers come in for an appointment, how will you get them to return and pay full price?
Discounting can be used effectively as a thank-you for referrals, but in most cases where people are just deal shopping, you’ll lose money and won’t gain new customers for the long term. So I encourage you to think hard before offering discounts and determine if this activity will truly add value to your business.
If you do decide to offer a discount, make it the exception and not the rule. Don’t do it constantly. When you charge full price, it consistently demonstrates to others that you value yourself and your services. As a result, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that others do as well.
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