You might be tempted to slash your prices right now. And you know what, your business, your rules.
However, if you’re only discounting from a place of panic - STOP - there might be a better option for you.
Discounting can be such a tricky thing - mostly because it trains your audience to wait until you have a discount or offer a special deal. From a money mindset perspective, it can sometimes send the message that you don’t value yourself at full price. From a branding perspective, it can damage your brand.
Not always - sometimes discounting can be entirely appropriate - maybe you’re discontinuing a product, you want to incentivize early birds, you’re doing a Beta version of a program or just because you feel like it. Some industries regularly offer a discount for payment in full, or seasonal discounts.
There is no right or wrong - but if you’re tempted to slash and burn your prices right now - I’ve got some alternative strategies for you.
1. Don’t assume people don’t want to buy
First up - the most important lesson. Don’t create a story that none of your customers want to hear from you.
Yes, many people are dealing with the unimaginable, and now’s not the time to figure out how to sell to them gracefully. In many cases, it just looks and sounds wrong.
But some people - even amid a global pandemic - are trying to solve problems, live their lives and continue their businesses.
I’ve heard from a lot of people in my community that they have savings cushions, and they are still working on projects and paying their bills. They want to do their part to keep the economy going.
I’m working with an editor, web designer, and graphic designer for various upcoming projects. I’m commissioning a mural artwork and building a film studio at my farm. I’m keeping all my staff. I’m looking ahead to the future when things go back to “normal.”
Yes, I’m fortunate, and believe me, I’m not bragging, nor am I unconcerned with the impacts of Corona on my business. But I still want to move some of my projects forward, and I’m happy to pay my regular suppliers for their expertise.
Not just millionaires. Lots of regular people will have both the budget and bandwidth to work with you if your product or service is something they want or need. Don’t make that decision for them by ghosting right now.
Yes, many of your customer base will be freaking out and not be able to afford you right now. Allowing yourself to serve the people who can gratefully afford you will help you stay in business so you can continue to serve the others in the future.
Don’t do this:
2. Offer longer payment plans
Generally for my Money Bootcamp, we only offer an extended payment plan once a year. But we recently offered this and had over 100 new people join. I believe that payment plans should always attract a small extra fee because the truth is - it will cost you more to administer the defaults.
Offering payment plans will help your customers who genuinely want to work with you, but they are concerned about cash flow right now.
Do this if:
Don’t do this if:
3. Packaging up
My hair salon has a package deal for blow dries. Buy ten, and you get an overall discount. It’s a great deal for someone like me who gets regular weekly blow-dries, and I feel like I’m being rewarded for my loyalty.
Yes, it’s technically a discount, but it’s a win-win, rather than discounting single sessions. Your customers get a great deal, but with customer loyalty and longevity embedded into it.
If you see your clients weekly, monthly, or even quarterly, see if they want to get a package discount. Make sure you communicate really clear deadlines or expiry dates.
This works for:
Don’t do this:
4. Supersize me!
Maybe your incentive this month is giving extra value to your usual service.
Buy a coaching session and get an extra 30 minutes. Purchase a course this month, and you can come to a free live group party. Instead of a 3-page website, you get 5 pages. Get an extra 20 pages edited for free. A free candle with every purchase over $100. A limited-edition shirt when you do a custom order. Faster turnaround than normal without the extra fee.
You get the idea.
By framing this as a special bonus, you’re incentivizing people who might be on the fence about investing right now. Some people just can’t resist extra value and will jump.
Don’t do this:
5. Offer online help
So many businesses right now can serve clients online. Even traditionally face to face industries.
Many of my friends are professional speakers, trainers, and in-person consultants. Many run retreats and big conferences. Some are freaking OUT - others have gracefully rescheduled and offered their services online as a short term alternative.
By the way, you don’t have to automatically have to discount because you’re taking your business online. Lots of people actually prefer it! They’re paying for your solution, not necessarily your physical presence. I will continue to see my Kinesiologist, naturopath, yoga teacher, and even my ukulele teacher if they offer sessions online.
I don’t want to skip couples therapy or our quarterly business planning sessions. We’ll do them online if we can’t see them in person. I wouldn’t dream of asking for a discount.
Find a creative way to pivot your business into online offerings. Be proactive and offer a win-win solution.
6. Sell your expertise
I’m seeing a lot of event planners, and people in the wedding industry freak out right now. But almost every industry professional has something to teach others. Package up your systems, checklists, and hacks, and sell them!
Consult to newbies in your industry. Give consulting for some of your clients to DIY your services.
Why would someone teach a DIY version of their products? Give away all their secrets?
People are often worried about cannibalizing their own clients if they teach what they know, but it usually doesn’t work out that way. They are two different target markets! Some people like to do it themselves, and others (like me) prefer to hire it out.
Either way, you’re helping people with your expertise, and they’ll remember that when things go back to “normal.”
Plus, adding a DIY course or book can serve two purposes: it sets up some passive income for you, and it gets you more customers because some wannabe DIYers realize it would be much easier to hire you!
7. Offer mini or “lite” versions of what you do
I don’t always recommend this, but it’s a great way to maintain the integrity of your full service, but still create a couple of affordable options for people. For example - if you usually solve three problems for a client, let them pay for one solution. If you do full hours, you could offer a 30-minute option.
If you have 1:1 students, you could offer them a more cost-effective group course.
You also have to play with the numbers. Halving time doesn’t mean halving your rates. It’s technically a discount, but as long as you’re maintaining your integrity around the value you offer, AND you put a very specific deadline or boundary around it, it could be a good strategy for you.
Your time should always be the most valuable resource in your business - and you only have a finite amount of hours, so think about creating an e-course or writing a book that’s a summary of what you do. Many people buy my $2,000 Money Bootcamp after reading my $10 book.
Now's the time to package up your expertise into a DIY version of your consulting, and you can still offer consulting off the back of it for more customized help or individual support.
Don’t do this
8. Ask people to pre-pay
For example - I’d be totally happy to pre-pay for my daughter’s next term dance school fees if I know it will keep the dance school afloat. Again, there are people in your community who understand this and are in a position to help.
But many businesses are sending emails out right now, offering massive discounts. What if instead, you gave people the option. You could pre-pay for next term and get a special gift (many physical businesses probably have stock that could become bonuses). You could pay extra, and we’ll donate it to another student. AND if you need it, we have alternatives for you.
Again - don’t assume people are looking for a discount.
9. Build Philanthropy into your offerings
Again, some of your clients might want to help others right now, and adding philanthropy (either temporarily or permanently) is always a smart and kind business decision.
You might decide that 10% of profits go towards a local food bank or adopt a “buy one, give one” model like TOMS or Warby Parker, where a purchase triggers an equal donation to someone in need.
My local donut shop said for every $100 spent, they would donate donuts to the local hospital to thank first responders. Trust me, I had no need of $100 worth of donuts, but it was an easy decision for me and made me feel good.
Let customers buy gift cards for other families for future services or scholarships for others. Remember - some people have enough at the moment to share.
10. Make it easier for people to give you money
Lastly - be mindful of any barriers to working with you. Is your website clunky? Unclear? Is your “buy here” button hidden on your page? Now is not the time to be shy. Cast an eye over your offerings and simplify if necessary.
Can someone literally press a button and buy something from you right now? Even just an hour of your time? Or a gift card. Are you taking Paypal?
I wrote a lengthy article on how I recently bought 64 e-courses and what I learned from reading all those sales pages. Read that for more details.
People can’t give you money if you don’t tell them what you can offer. People can’t support you if you don’t ask.
So - hopefully, that’s sparked some ideas about what to do BEFORE you start slashing your prices.
What would you like to implement first?
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