One of the major problems with promoting a discount or a “sale” of your services is that it immediately decreases the perceived value of your service.
This is important, because until you get folks LITERALLY THROUGH YOUR DOOR, the only value you have is what your words tell them you have.
Think about it: You’re telling people, “Hey, you can get a weekend in my best B&B for HALF what I normally charge this weekend, because that’s really all it’s worth, and I’m still making money, so thanks for paying double all the time!”
Are people thinking this aloud when they read your sales announcement? Usually not. But they do remember that lower price when they go to book later, and may choose a cheaper competitor or decide not buy until some convenient sale in the unknown (and never coming) future.
To avoid this problem, you could either change your pricing strategy, and never offer lower rates (drastic), or you could change the way you talk about discounts.
Only provide lower rates when something is brand-spanking new and untested; importantly, don’t focus your sales copy on the lower price. Instead, call out the later, higher price (this has the added benefit of increasing urgency for sales).
Something like: “This is our special introductory rate—only good through April. This price goes up to the full value on May 1, so book now!”
Don’t call it a discount. The key here is that you maintain that your 'normal price' is the full value.
If you need to run a discount or increase bookings, here are some options:
Advertise that you have an ‘off-season’ rate, but invite people to contact you for more information about specific dates or packages.
When they do, use these magic words:
“The friends & family rate”
This is solid gold, people.
By calling it the ‘friends & family rate’ you’re adding several elements of value (and accomplishing a few other things, besides).
First, people love to be special. We all love to be included, to get preferential treatment. Who doesn’t get all warm and fuzzy inside when the Chipotle waiter slips you a free guacamole? NO ONE IS IMMUNE, PEOPLE.
Second, people talk to one another about the prices. This is a good thing! You want your customers to tell all their friends about the great rate they got for your service. What you don’t want is for them to tell their cousin’s best friend’s dog sitter that your premium service is only $199, when that was your beta-testing rate. When Susie Q calls you, only to find out it's $497, you’ve already lost. Even if your service is worth every penny of $497, if they enter the process with $199 established in their head as a reference point, they’re going to perceive $500 as way overpriced.
IF, on the other hand, the folks getting a discounted rate already know it’s special, and not offered to everyone, they will share it that way—often encouraging their friends to contact you for a current rate. WIN WIN WIN.
If you’re in the process of running a promotion, and you need some professional sizzle for your sales pages, call me. Maybe I’ll give you my friends & family rate (is this what they call meta?).