A Step-by-Step Guide to Implementing a Successful Sales Event

Running a sales promotion can be a valuable tool to bring more new business to your practice as well as increase the visibility of your brand. While we know consumers love sales, not all sales are successfully from a business point of view. As with any decision a small business owner makes, choosing to run a sale involves planning and consideration, not to mention some marketing savvy.
Before diving in, be sure a sale strategy is a good fit for your practice. One must factor the sales profit margins, marketing costs, and of course, your time investment into the overall equation of how a sale might impact your bottom line. Looking past the initial financial impact of a sale, you should ask yourself how well does your practice typically retain patients? If the sale itself is a loss leader, a high patient retention rate could make the effort still worthwhile in the long run.
 
Step 1: Identify the Offer
There are two schools of thought when it comes to offer strategies: Discounts on price and getting something extra with purchase.
While seemingly straight forward in principle, discounting the cost of services can be confusing and counter-productive if not done correctly. Consider if you will discount your services by a certain percentage or a flat dollar amount and how that is communicated to your audience.

While seemingly straight forward in principle, discounting the cost of services can be confusing and counter-productive if not done correctly.

One trick that every small business owner should know is the 100 rule: If you’re selling something that costs less than $100, offer a percentage off, and if you’re selling something that costs more than $100, offer a dollar amount off. According to a story published in the Wall Street Journal, the brain likes round numbers and it also likes large round numbers, therefore, offering $500 off a $4,000 service sounds a lot better than a 12.5% discount.
The alternative to discounts is offering something extra with purchase. This extra thing could be an additional service, product, or educational item (think e-book, access to a webinar, wellness programs) intended to strengthen your business relationship and encourage them to come back more regularly.
 
Step 2: Timing
There are certain shopping holidays that people expect to see sales – Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Labor Day, and even back-to-school. Planning your sale to hit during one of these well known events can give you a starting platform from which to shape and market your campaign. You may also choose to hold your sale during a time when your business naturally slows down. If you are located in a college town or somewhere that depends on seasonal traffic, this may apply to you.

Planning your sale to hit during one of these well known events can give you a starting platform from which to shape and market your campaign.

In addition to when your sale will be held, also think about how long the offer will be available. While short run sales (usually Black Friday or Cyber Monday) create a sense of urgency, rushed sales also run a higher risk of buyer’s remorse, which can result in refund requests and unhappy patients.
 
Step 3: Promotion
 Once you have the details of the sale locked down, it’s time to think about how you will spread the word. If you have a current marketing plan in place, the first consideration is using those materials and space for sale promotion. Here are some other elements that should be part of your sale promotions:

  • Email. Announce your sale in an email to your current patient email list. Depending on how long your sale will run, you can consider sending a series of emails including an advance notice of when the sale will be available and last chance to encourage people to take advantage of it before its expiration.
  • Website. Place the details of the sale in a highly visible place on your homepage. Be sure to include a call-to-action to move people to take a desired action (call, fill out a form, visit the office). If your sale has multiple components or needs extra explanation, consider creating a dedicated page on your website with more details. Other marketing pieces, including ads, social media, and blogs, can then link to this page.
  • Social Media. Share the promotion on Facebook, Twitter, G+, Instagram and any other social channel you have.
  • PPC. Paid online advertisements can get increase the number of targeted people who see your promotion on the search engine results pages. If utilizing an advertising platform such as Google AdWords, you can not only select how much you wish to spend reaching your audience, but also set filters on who sees your ad and the keywords associated with it.
  • Signage. Take advantage of the foot traffic around your location by posting signs in and around your office. Also consider fliers, coupons, or other promotional materials you can hand out to your current patients or other interested parties.

The final and arguably most important step in the process is measuring and reporting on the results of your efforts. Not only should you measure the number of sales and dollar amounts that occurred as a result of the sale, but also how each of your promotional pieces performed. The performance of digital items can be easier to track than printed ads or signage due to the built-in reporting found with many digital platforms. Diving into your email analytics can uncover how many people received, opened, or clicked on your messages. Social media offers a clear picture of how many people saw or engaged with your messages and your website should allow you to track how many people visited your dedicated sale landing page.
Understanding which pieces of your marketing campaign did well can provide you intelligence on where to focus your efforts in the future. We hope these tips help get you on the path to running some successful sales.

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