Holding a sale can bring a lot of additional revenue and profit to your business if it’s done correctly. It can excite your customers and generate interest, especially if a sale is unusual for you or your industry.

But run sales too often, and you could end up as the kind of company where customers will never buy from you unless there is some kind of discount, think sofa companies.

See also: Why your business needs a customer relationship management programme

Why runs a sale?

There are many reasons why holding a sale promotion can be a good idea for your rural business.

  1. It generates excitement about your business and puts you at the front of potential customers’ minds
  2. It attracts new customers who might not have heard about your business
  3. It gets repeat business from your existing customers, as you encourage them to return
  4. It increases value for your business and your brand, enhancing your reputation and likeability amongst customers
  5. If you have physical products, it’s a way for you to clear excess stock or get rid of old product lines
  6. It can help you increase your average order value – you offer something on sale for a cheap price, but them promote other products via upselling and cross-selling methods to get customers to buy more from you.

The downside of running a sale

If your cross-promotions don’t go to plan, or you don’t get repeat customers, you can find that a sale reduces your revenue. It could even see you losing money if you discount too much. So it definitely takes some thinking about.

A promotion or sale can also annoy your customers if you don’t handle it carefully. If they’re regular buyers, and suddenly they see things they’ve bought are now discounted for new, un-loyal customers, then they’re not going to be happy.

See also: How to use calls-to-action to get more leads

It might also change their perceptions of your business too. When you put products or services on-sale, you’re conjuring up thoughts and feelings of something being ‘cheaper.’ You’re de-valuing that product or service, and you might not be able to get that value back in the minds of your customers.

The different kinds of sales and promotions

You shouldn’t just simply say you’re going to run a sale. There are lots of different ways to promote a sale for your business, and they don’t all have to be money-orientated.

Weigh up the different options and see what value each could bring to your business. Which is the easiest for you to manage, logistically? Which is less of a risk to you? Which has the potential to make you more money?

Think about what works for your business, and what will work for your customers. Remember, they need to see the sale as something genuine, exciting, and above all – valuable.

Some types of sales you might consider include:

  • Discounts - where you offer a percentage off or money off
  • Bundles – where you offer ‘buy one get one’ deals or ‘two for…’ deals where you get two items/services for a set price
  • Special offers – where you only get a certain item if you meet the requirements, or you get a special/mystery gift for spending a certain amount
  • Free trials – where you give your customers the chance to try a product or service without having to buy first
  • Daily deals/flash sales – where your customers have a very limited time to take advantage of a unique offer
  • Coupon/voucher - where your customers get an incentive to return when they have bought something previously from you

Some types of sales lend themselves more to businesses offering physical products to consumers (B2C), while others might be more applicable to those companies selling to other businesses (B2B).

Be prepared

If you decide that running a sale is a good idea for your business, then it’s essential that you prepare. Any kind of promotion needs to be planned in advance to make sure it runs smoothly and is effective.

Make sure that you have enough stock to meet the potential demand for the sale. You don’t want to be disappointing customers who are visiting for a specific sale to find you’ve run out too quickly.

If you’re putting a service on sale, make sure you have the capacity to deliver on that service. If you sell too many hours of your staff’s time, you could be in trouble.

You’ll also want to make sure that your staff and your website are prepared too. Make sure anyone who deals with customer enquiries is fully briefed on the sale, to minimise any problems, and check with your web developers to ensure your website can handle a potential influx of traffic.

Don’t forget to plan your advertising for the sale too. You’ll want to promote it to new and existing customers so they know about it, realise it’s something special, and get excited about buying from you. You might want to consider new PPC banners and updated designs on your website and social media to promote the sale.

Focus on capturing data

A good sale isn’t just about selling products or services. It’s about getting in front of a wider audience, a larger target market.

See also: Measure to grow: The importance of figures in marketing

If you’re smart with your planning and advertising, you’ll be able to use a sale or promotion to capture the data of many potential new customers.

Then you can use tactics like email marketing, remarketing and abandoned basket marketing to stay on their minds and encourage them to buy from you in the future.

Don’t get lost in a sea of sales

Finally, be careful when you run a sale. Black Friday, for example, can seem like a great time to try one, to jump on the bandwagon when you know people are thinking about discounts.

But there are just too many sales and promotions around Black Friday now, that there’s the risk of getting lost in the sea. Even big companies are starting to shift their sales around to the week leading up to Black Friday as they fight for customers’ attention.

Customers know what they want when it comes to Black Friday. They’ve planned ahead and saved their purchase, and they just want to get in and get out (both online and in-store). They probably don’t have the time to be interested in what you’re offering.

The key things to remember

If you are planning on a sale or promotion for your business whatever that is there are a few key things you should remember. Make sure that:

  • Your offer is unique
  • It adds genuine value to the customer
  • It’s interesting and relevant to your audience
  • It’s scarce – there’s a limited time or limited number

And always remember your goal for the sale too. It might be short term, like extra cash or reduced stock but ultimately you should be focusing on turning that sales customer into a lifetime customer.