As I was beginning my third year in business, I lost several regular clients. One weekly two-hour client moved to southeast Asia for her dream career opportunity. Then, a twice-per-week client went on a six week vacation and hasn’t been back (more on that here). His wife came in once or twice a month, but she hasn’t returned either. Another client who had recently gotten back on my schedule every three weeks lost his biggest customer and his wife who visited monthly was affected by energy industry cutbacks. Two other monthly clients became pregnant (Ashiatsu isn’t recommended during pregnancy) and a third monthly client told me he was saving for a trip and wouldn’t be back for a few months.
This started in December, and by March I was pretty concerned about my cash flow (especially with taxes looming). As I looked ahead on my schedule, I saw that many of the monthly clients coming in were on the last session of their package, meaning they wouldn’t be paying me until they bought another 3-pack the following month. I had started a Living Social deal to find new clients, but it wasn’t selling well. I wanted a serious sales boost, so I created my own daily deal through my online gift certificate provider to coincide with the Living Social offer (I’ve seen articles advocating this as an alternative to using daily deal sites). Selling directly to my existing clients would be good PR since I was extending the special to them (I didn’t feel right giving special deals exclusively to new clients), and all of those sales would go directly to me rather than a percentage if it was purchased through Living Social.
I used the daily deal feature on my online gift certificate platform and emailed my active clients, describing the deal with a link to where they could purchase it. The deal was $29.99 for 60 minutes paid online with the option to upgrade for $20 per thirty additional minutes to be paid at time of service. I wanted to extend the payment possibilities so I would get a quick influx of cash while the deal was running and then get paid for the upgrades as clients redeemed their vouchers. This was a limited time offer with no clear end date because I didn’t know how long I would be running the Living Social deal (it ended up being for a month).
I sold twenty-eight deals online (85% within a week of the email) for a rounded total of $840. I also earned $360 in upgrades (so far), plus I sold $160 worth of this deal in-house for $1360 earned to date (I still have six unredeemed vouchers). I decided to go back to that month to see if I had been wise to run the special or if I would have had more organic revenue. I found that I would have made an estimated $1420-$1637 from clients who purchased the deal that I’m confident would have visited anyway, depending on whether or not they would have bought packages or single sessions. Here are some more conclusions:
- This wasn’t a great way for me to attract new clients (which is what I needed). I only gained two (the email was shared with an active client’s out of town sister, who bought vouchers for herself and her husband). I’m confident these clients would have come in while they were visiting this summer and paid my regular fee.
- One client who bought online only comes in when there’s a deal. I wish he valued my services more because I know he benefits from our sessions. I’ll have to work on framing that sales language better to help clients like him see how a 3-pack can fit into their budget.
- Five other clients who probably wouldn’t have visited that month came in. One upgraded and one bought a 3-pack at her next visit. Regardless, I would have made more without the promotion.
- Only one person commented that she appreciated me offering the deal to existing clients.
- None of my clients mentioned seeing the deal on Living Social.
Although I don’t feel this idea was successful, I’m glad I tried it. Thank goodness I was also running a Groupon campaign (they called me when they saw my deal on Living Social) because that has gotten me back on track. I’ll be posting about my latest daily deal adventure soon with my take on Living Social v. Groupon (I still have a number of these vouchers to redeem and want to report how many of them convert).
I wouldn’t bother with my own daily deal again. The exposure from a daily deal site is exponential over self-promotion which makes it a much better option for attracting new clients. If a client asked if they could get the same price they saw me offering on a daily deal site I’d agree to it, or if current clients bought vouchers I’d honor them. Honestly, I don’t think existing clients expect to get these kinds of offers and aren’t offended when they don’t. Taking risks and learning from them is all part of building a practice that I love!
Have you used a similar marketing technique? Please share your thoughts or experience in the comments. Thank you!