Attracting new customers and retaining loyal customers is a challenge for any business. Consumers are price sensitive and are always on the lookout for a good deal. Offering promotions and discounts are often a great way to drum up new business and to show your appreciation for your loyal customers. That being said, discounts and promotions are often difficult to implement and track. Plus you need to make sure your operating costs don’t exceed your discounts if you don’t want to end up in the red. The end goal for all discounts and promotions is to attract new business and create lasting relationships with your customers. Over here at Amilia, we’ve created a little how to guide and come up with some tips and tricks for planning, creating and tracking discounts and promotions.
Planning for your Promotion
First off, know your operating costs and be sure not to sell at loss without knowing it. This is also a good time to figure out how much it costs to attract a new customer vs retain your current customers. Are you willing to offer a discount below your operating cost if you can gain a loyal customer? Is the potential long term payoff greater than the short term loss? Keep in mind that if the price discrepancy between the discount and regular price is too large, your new customers might not return when they will have to pay full price.
Know how many units you can service. If the promotion goal is to attract new customers, make sure you have the resources to provide the best service possible in order to ensure repeat business and word of mouth referrals. Clearly defined time and/or quantity limits on promotions can help ensure you don’t attract more customers than you can handle.
Make sure to track your promotion progress. How many customers took the promotion, did they attend the classes, did they become repeat customers? What’s the short term loss/gain? Long term loss/gain? Every promotion is a learning experience. Make sure you are set up to track each promotion’s effectiveness so you know what works and can make improvements next time. The Amilia platform makes setting up promotions easy and offers a summary of awarded promotion reports by program that can help you track your promotions.
Types of Promotions
There are two reasons why an organization should offer promotions: to attract new customers and to reward or thank existing customers. Once you’ve decided on your goal, you can start planning the type of promotion you want to offer. Here are some promotion ideas we’ve come up with:
- Introductory discounts: these are great to get new customers in the door to try out your services. These can be pretty much anything from offering a free trial class, to a discount on first time registration, or even a free bonus evaluation or class.
- Refer a friend: This is a great promotion that can help you gain new customers and reward your existing customers. Plus, it’s easy to implement with “Preferred Answer” Promotion on the Amilia platform. Give your existing customer a promotion code that allows their friend to have a small discount and that lets you know who they were referred by. Once the new customer has signed up and paid, you can give your referring customer a “Preferred Answer” promotion answer to input the next time they register.
- Combo Promotions or Multiple Activities Promotions: offer a discount for signing up for more than one activity at a time. Amilia’s promotion feature allows you to offer % discounts based on the number of eligible activities an individual registers for per program.
- Multi-Persons Discount: offer a discount for signing up more than one person to an activity. Amilia allows you to offer a % discount if your client registers multiple people for eligible activities in a program. This and the Multiple Activities promotion are great for families.
- Promotions based on age: Great for offering senior or youth discounts. This is easy to set up with Amilia’s promotion based on the registrant’s age feature.
- Loyalty promotions: offer your loyal customers an anniversary, birthday or loyalty discount. This is easy to set up with Amilia’s “Preferred Answer” promo. Include this promo field on all programs and give your eligible customers an answer to the question for this promo.
Once you’ve decided what kind of promotion you are going to offer, it’s time to get the word out and start marketing!
Marketing your Promotion – The Rule of Seven
The Marketing Rule of Seven is an old rule that states a prospective buyer needs to hear or see your marketing message at least 7 times before they buy from you. The number seven is not set in stone but the message behind the rule is that your prospective buyers need to see your message many times before they purchase. This means you have to let your target audience know about your promotion over and over and over again. This doesn’t mean sending them seven emails. In order to get their attention, you need to tell them multiple times in different ways.
If your promotion is targeted to existing customers, announce the promotion in your email newsletter, post it in the common areas at your facility, make announcements before and after class, and post it on your website. If you are an Amilia client, make sure you include a custom message in the programs eligible for your promotions. When your customer logs in and selects the program, the information about your promotion will be front and center in the “Important Information” field.
If your promotion goal is attracting new customers, ask your existing customers to tell their friends (word of mouth is by far the best marketing tool out there), post the promotion on your website, in your facility and then get creative. Direct mail is still a great way to advertise and these days, the mail box isn’t as crowed as it used to be so more people are actually reading the advertisements that end up in their mailbox. Ask local businesses with complementary offerings if you can leave a stack of promotional postcards at their checkout or entry. You can offer to do the same for them and everyone wins! Outdoor advertising is also an often overlooked marketing medium. Outdoor advertising is not just billboards, it includes ads or posters locker room, bathroom mirrors and stalls (where you have undivided attention), grocery cart panels, on bus stops, posters in the mall and even walking billboards. Another idea is offering a Groupon or LivingSocial type deal. These are great because your offer is emailed to potential customers you normally would not be able to reach, but be careful with this and make sure you set quantity limits, clear expirations and use by dates.
Amilia makes setting up promotions and notifying your existing clients easy. Making sure your discounts improve your bottom line and drum up more business can be challenging but with proper planning and tracking, the right promotion can give your business a boost. To learn more about how Amilia can help grow your business, visit amilia.com to learn more and download a features brochure.