Holiday Promotion Strategies for Online Service Based Businesses

business strategies holiday planning planning Oct 14, 2021

It's hard to believe that the holidays are almost here, and with that comes Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, etc.

Have you been wondering if there is anything you can do for holiday promotions for your online coaching, consulting or service based business?

The answer is yes and I am going to break down some of the most effective strategies I have seen work well in my business and the businesses I work with, but first let's bust a couple misconceptions.

  1. Misconception #1: Holiday promos are only for product based businesses
  2. Misconception #2: Holiday promos have to involve discounting

Not only can a service based business, thought leader, coach, and consultant offer holiday promotions, I highly encourage it (in most industries, it doesn't work as well if you work with exclusively with corporate).  

And you know what else I encourage?  Not discounting!  Each of the strategies I share below do not include discounting.

I will even share some strategies for those of you who sell physical products like planners, workbooks, and journals. 


Why Do You Want to Avoid Discounting?

Discounting can be a great strategy for product based businesses, and I frequently run sales and do holiday promos that include discounting for my jewelry business, Criscara.

But while discounting can work well for a product based business, it does not work well for online coaching, consulting, and service based businesses.

When you discount your services or your programs, what you are saying to the customer is - this is how much it's worth or this is how much I am willing to accept for it. 

If your program is normally $2000 and you do a holiday promo for 50% off and only charge $1000, you may get some people to buy because it's a great deal, but here is what happens in the long run.

The people who didn't buy will either never buy, or they will wait for the next "sale".  Because they now see the value of your program as $1,000 not $2,000.  You've shifted their perceived value, and you have to work really hard to shift their perception back.

2 inadvertent things happen:

  1. You devalue your programs or services or expertise
  2. You train people to wait for a sale

You get a short term win at the expense of long term success.  So the question you have to ask yourself is, are some short term sales worth the long term impact?  For me, it definitely isn't.  

So if you shouldn't discount, what should you do instead?


Holiday Promotion Strategies for Coaches That Do Not Include Discounting

Here is what I find works well, without devaluing the programs and services you normally offer.  Instead of offering a discount, offer a bonus and provide additional value.

If you're thinking, okay... but what do I include as a bonus... the first thing you want to do is think about what does your ideal target market value most.

What would they find so highly valuable and irresistible that it would be a no brainer for them to invest in your offer?

It is usually YOU.  For all of us coaches, consultants, and thought leaders, our clients typically want time with us - our feedback, our insights, etc, above all else.


Here are some ideas for including YOU as a bonus (without taking up much of your time):

  • Add a bonus session onto your coaching packages, so if they normally get 6 sessions with you, add in a 7th

  • Add a bonus private coaching call with you or someone from your team:  Because this one takes your time and isn't as scalable as some of the other strategies, limit this strategy to your highest-tier coaching / consulting / service packages / programs and put a cap on it where it is only available for the 1st 5 or 10 people. 

  • Offer an exclusive closed-door group coaching call or workshop: This is one of my favorite and most effective strategies.  It takes a minimal amount of time from you (they are typically 60 - 120 minutes), are highly scalable where you can have a high number of people in the closed door session, and are highly valuable to your clients.

    • It could be an open Q&A - ask me anything - type of session, training on a specific topic you know your client wants to know, a behind the scenes of something they want to know, etc.

    • My Small Business Saturday promo this year will be leveraging this strategy.  For anyone who registers to attend the Lean Out Level Up Retreat, I will be doing a private closed door session where my team and I will be sharing how we plan for and run retreats and I will be sharing our step by step plan.  It's an incredible bonus, worth almost as much as the investment in the retreat, making it a no-brainer for anyone who wants to add retreats to their business, which a lot of my clients do.  But it will only take my team and I a couple hours to prepare for and deliver.  We sell out the retreat, they get an amazing experience at the retreat PLUS learn how to run their own - win, win.

  • Add in something done-for-you that won't take you and your team a lot of time but that would be hugely valuable to your clients - I map out the content management process flows for my private coaching clients and they love it.  It is super simple and quick for me to do and highly valuable for them.


What about ideas that don't involve including you?  

There are several different options - my favorites including bundles and last chance offers.

  • Create a bundle: This strategy works especially well for digital courses.  Bundle together 3 of your top-selling courses or programs and offer them for the price of 2. This is a great way to move those sitting on the fence into action if they already wanted even 1 of the courses in the bundle.  It feels like a no-brainer to buy now when they can get all 3, even if they wouldn't have purchased all 3 individually.

  • Offer a BOGO (buy one get one): This works especially well for service based businesses or offers where you want to bring in new clients. The focus here is on expanding brand awareness and clients and works best if you have an upsell at the end for the bogo person to become a paying client. This is also a really great option if you do anything in person where people would really value bringing a friend/partner, such as spa services, or yoga classes, etc.
    • Buy one and we'll send one to your business bestie
    • Book one session for your loved one and get one for yourself
    • Buy 3 sessions and get a 4th to gift to someone else 

  • Do a 'last chance' offer: This is another one of my favorites. Here are some examples:
    • Prices go up at the end of the year.  This is your last chance to enroll at this rate/buy at this price.
    • Program/offer goes away at the end of the year.  This is your last chance to be a part of it/get it.
    • We're closing the doors to this version of the program.  Register now to get whatever the current version includes that the new version doesn't - such as a higher level of support. For example - Want private coaching from me as part of your membership?  This is the last time I am including private coaching sessions as part of our monthly membership program.



Holiday Promo Ideas for Physical Products Within a Service Based Business (PWJ)

So what if you offer a physical product like a planner, workbook, or journal as part of your coaching or service based business?

There are 2 primary option categories - offering your product as a bonus, offering a bonus with your product.

  • Offer your product as a bonus: You can include your planner (or other product) as part of the bonuses you offer with your services. 
    • For example, for everyone who joins me at the Lean Out Level Up Retreat, I include a Success Swag Bag as a bonus which includes my 90-Day Lean Out Planner, Dream Chaser + Magic Maker Tote, and jewelry from Criscara.  I gift them all of the products that I sell as part of the bonus.  
    • If your product compliments one of your courses or programs, you can include it as a bonus. 
  • Offer a bonus with your product: This works great in combination with some of the strategies above.  
    • If you sell a planner, offer a special closed door planning session for the new year for anyone who purchases your planner as part of the holiday promo.
    • If you have a digital course that compliments your planner, include the course for free when they purchase 4 or more of your products.
    • BOGO: One way that you can discount your product that doesn't devalue your product is to do a bulk purchase bogo - buy 3 and get the 4th free.


Combining Holiday Promos with Leaning Out Your Offers

Are you planning to lean out your offers going into the new year to reduce complexity and set yourself up to scale your signature offer?

Well here's how to leverage some of the strategies above with the offers you will be retiring, combining, or reimagining. 

  • Bundle together products/programs/services you will be retiring into a special last chance bundle
  • Promote the current version of your program, announcing that it will be changing and the price will be increasing in the new year
  • Make it extra enticing to invest in the core offer that you will be focusing on next year by bundling in some of the other offers you have, including ones you will be retiring


The One Scenario Where It Makes Sense to Discount

Although I believe strongly in bonusing and offering additional value instead of discounting for service-based businesses, the one exception is that when you are retiring a product, program, or service forever, you can offer it at a special price.

This should very much be the exception and please note that if you choose to do this, make sure you are not discounting anything that involves your time. 

If it is a DIY course or program, that's one thing.  But if it is coaching with you, never discount, even if it is being retired.  


Creating Your Marketing Plan

So now that you know what promotion you want to offer, you need to build your marketing plan and determine how to frame it.

I personally am not a fan of the whole Black Friday, Cyber Monday thing, but I am a huge supporter of small businesses, and run 3 small businesses myself.  So for me, I center my promotions around Small Business Saturday.

It may be different for you.  

Whatever it is, you will want to build your marketing plan and content calendar around it.

Pro Tip:  There is a lot of noise in your client's inboxes and social media feeds DURING the holiday promo period, so be sure to let them know in advance that something is coming and to be on the lookout for it.

You can also start your promo early, ahead of the holiday promo period. 

I start my Small Business Saturday promo a week before Thanksgiving to avoid getting lost in the noise. 


What holiday promos are you going to do this year? 

And how are you going to bonus and add additional value instead of discounting?

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Ready For More:

  • Looking for more tips to optimize your business join us inside our private Facebook Community for Lean Coffee with Crista and team Lean Out Method every week. These 20 - 30-minute sessions combine training with Q&A where you can get your burning business questions answered.
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by Crista Grasso

Crista Grasso is the go-to strategic planning expert for leading global businesses and online entrepreneurs when they want to scale.  Known as the "Business Optimizer", Crista has the ability to quickly cut through noise and focus on optimizing the core things that will make the biggest impact to scale a business simply and sustainably. She specializes in helping businesses gain clarity on the most important things that will drive maximum value for their clients and maximum profits for their business.  She is the creator of the Lean Out Method, 90 Day Lean Out Planner, and host of the Lean Out Your Business Podcast


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