Most service-based entrepreneurs have periods that are typically slow, and do what they can to prepare for them or find ways to increase earnings.
But what about potentially busy cycles?
I like to call this the season of opportunity.
This season includes:
- Black Friday
- The Holiday Season
- The Post-Holiday Season or New Year (and Spring)
Taking advantage of these potential busy periods takes some strategic thought and planning. Many entrepreneurs don’t think beyond the standard options, like gift certificates.
Now that most of us are aware of our options online that expand our income and impact-creating potential, we can also learn more strategic and sustainable ways to leverage the busier seasonal cycles.
Let’s take a quick look at each potential buying season. One or more of them might be a gold mine of opportunity for you!
The Black Friday buying season
Like it or not, Black Friday is a time when people are used to buying. They actively search for deals online.
At first, I participated because everyone else did. Then I stopped, for the same reason: Because everyone else was, and I didn’t want to devalue my offerings.
Now, I use this time strategically, and use it to promote selective offerings only.
If I feel like it.
I have some services and products that I never discount, and will never be sold via a Black Friday deal.
I have others that are perfect for a Black Friday deal, because they meet certain criteria:
RCVR (ReCeiVeR): Perceived Relevance, Credibility, Value, and low Risk for the buyer (receiver) Without these criteria in place, it’s going to be hard for me to sell anything.
PS: Positives for the Seller/ Profitable and Sustainable. For me this means that I won’t lose time or money and can even earn a little extra income by getting creative with a few selected offerings I have.
Whether or not you decide to participate depends on what makes sense for YOU.
The Holiday Season
This is another time when people tend to spend money. Don’t be shy about promoting your offerings around the holidays, especially if you sell the type of products or services that are about “treating” yourself to something nice.
Think of it this way: If you have people that are following you and are engaged with your content, wouldn’t it be weird NOT to have a paid offer, or never to ask anyone if they are interested?
Have you ever eagerly awaited the release of a book, movie, album, or seasonal collection? Would you be disappointed and find it odd to discover that there’s no option to BUY something for yourself?
Whether or not you offer discounted or full price services is up to you and will depend on your business model and strategy.
You will still want to start planning and promoting NOW.
I’m not talking about the obnoxious Christmas decorations and music that pop up in October (although I live in a “no Christmas zone”) in Bosnia, so I admit, I kinda miss Christmas)
The promo cycle isn’t like having Mariah Carey tunes shoved down your throat whether you like it or not. It’s about dialing up the RCVR to 11. (More about this in a moment)
The New Year/Spring
This is the time of year when many are actively interested in cultivating new beginnings. Many know that their odds of success will be much higher with the help and guidance of an expert.
Typically, those who sell something that isn’t so much about “indulgence” or “treating yourself” but rather a transformation that will involve some work on their part, will probably find that THIS is their busier season (or spring)
Examples include wellness, coaching, personal training, and any other service that provides some kind of transformation.
Whether you are planning a launch or are offering your product or service year round, to prepare for a successful (and sustainable) busy season, you’ll want to focus on turning up the RCVR in the autumn.
This is even more important for higher ticket items because of the longer buying cycles. (Buying a 10k coaching package means a longer buying cycle than buying a bracelet on Etsy)
You’ll want to really do some planning in order to prepare for your busy season.
Ways to prepare for your “Season of Opportunity:”
1. Start building your email list!
If you haven’t done this yet.. Do it NOW!
The first thing that you’ll want is a list to promote your offer to.
This is one thing that tends to get in the way of moving forward with the rest of the items I mention in this blog.
For many, this means setting up an account, such as Active Campaign or ConvertKit, getting familiar with the platform, importing contacts, dipping their toes in the water with newsletter broadcasts, and setting up their first lead magnet.
Once this is done, throw a party! You’ve got the infrastructure for the next steps:
2. Nurture or re-connect with the people on your email list
Just like you probably wouldn’t want to jump into bed or marry the first person you meet, it’s not a good idea to jump right into a promotional cycle with your newsletter. Especially if you haven’t been consistent or have been absent for a while.
To earn trust, we need to first give them content that meets the RCVR criteria: Content that is relevant, has value, shows credibility, and is low RISK.
As an example, if I’m going to be offering a class on how to build an email list and promote it, I’m going to be creating more high-quality content that meets this criteria:
Relevance: Is my ideal client aware of email marketing? Are they actively looking for ways to make setting up an email list and funnel easy? Yes. Can I help them with this? Yes. I know the answers to these questions because I did my research.
Value: I like to offer tips and insights that only subscribers can get. There’s a lot of free value I can give. Obviously I can’t cover it all for free, but I can answer questions and educate my audience enough so that they are prepared for the next step.
Credibility: What can I give that demonstrates my authority on the topic of using email for promotional cycles? What experience do I have, and how can I share it? Why would people want to hear about this from me, specifically?
This isn’t about credentials. When it comes to email marketing, trust is based on consistency, authority (knowing what we’re talking about and showing proof) and showing that we truly care. (empathy, authenticity)
Consistency: Just as flooding someone’s inbox with too many emails can be intrusive, showing up out of the blue on occasion can feel annoying, especially if those emails are purely promotional. The first thought is: “Who is this and why am I getting emails from them?”
Good copy allows our authority, empathy, and authenticity to shine.
Without these elements, we may come across like that friend that doesn’t always show up when we agree to meet, or isn’t there for us, or only wants to talk when they need something.. we lose trust.
Believe it or not, the same goes for email marketing. It’s called a subscription for a reason. People may not be paying us, but they have invested their time and trust.
I’ve made this mistake before. I’ve ignored my subscribers long enough that my return prompted more unsubscribes than usual.
(Unsubscribes are normal, but yeah, we don’t want to see to many of these happen because of something we could have done better)
Risk: We want to mitigate risk. At some point, it’s going to feel weird if we don’t actually ASK, or present an offer or proposal that has 2 choices: Yes, or No.
I’m not talking about how risky it feels for us. (Are we annoying our audience? Will they unsubscribe? What if nobody buys from us?)
I’m talking about reducing risk for THEM.
The idea is to lower risk for subscribers and buyers at any stage in the buyer’s journey. It’s the equivalent of meeting someone new and asking them out for coffee, not a fancy dinner or weekend getaway or their hand in marriage!
Ways to do this before the Yes/No choice is made:
- Send high quality content consistently
- Provide an easy way to unsubscribe
When the Yes/No question is popped:
Offer high quality and low-ticket offers that dial RCVR up to 11. (These are perfect for Black Friday!)
Of course, this has to be sustainable and profitable for you, as well. (PS)
If this sounds like a lot of work, there are ways to do this so that it’s much easier on you. I talk about repurposing content often, but I’ll leave that for another day.
Let’s talk about the actual offer you want to promote for your busy season:
3. Come up with an offer that’s easy for you to package, re-package, and sell. On repeat.
Something that doesn’t cost you a lot of time and effort while still providing value.
Because you don’t want to deeply discount your TIME.
For example, you can use a recording from a previous class, workshop, or event and polish it up, (perhaps including a workbook) and offer it on an ongoing basis at a particular price point.
Just like a care package offers high value based on the sum of the contents in the box rather than individual items, your bundled packages can do the same. Think of it as a package full of goodies!
This is a great alternative to discounting, or you can combine adding bonus/extras with a discount.
You could also, if you desired, continue to offer a discount exclusively at specific times during the year. I wouldn’t overdo this. I think that once or twice a year is plenty.. any more than that and people tend not to buy something unless it’s on sale.
You can really get creative with 3 types of seasonal offerings. Keep in mind that you can focus on one, two, all three, or even decide that none work for you.
What you can offer during Black Friday/Cyber Monday
As I mentioned above, the key here is low cost, low-risk items that offer value, but that don’t create a lot of extra work for you or devalue/discount your TIME.
These tend to work well if you have digital products for sale and you want to leverage the Black Friday season.
What can you assemble or re-use easily, that you can sell for a limited time at a discounted rate without it impacting your bottom line or overall perceived value? Generally, low-cost items work best.
Do you have recorded workshops or classes you can sell on demand?
Can you bundle some digital assets together, rebrand them, and offer them at a certain price point, and perhaps offer a discount one or two times a year?
You can also add little “extras” or bonuses to existing offers, such as:
- A guided meditation
- Educational Videos
- Free, limited time consults or sessions (I don’t like to do this but for some, it could work)
These are great because they offer added VALUE.
What you can offer during the holiday season
Remember, for many service-based entrepreneurs, especially those who also offer physical products, December is when people are ready to buy stuff that just plain feels good.
Self-care, entertainment, and stress reduction are things many are interested in during the holidays.
The buying cycle for these types of products and services may be shorter, but (hopefully) you’ve still spent the rest of the year raising awareness about your brand, building trust, and building that email list.. one of your best business assets!
After all this effort, it’s important to remember the reason why you have worked so hard.
Also, if people have been engaged with you for this long, they will actually expect you to present them with your offer at some point, and now may be a great time.
Don’t be shy about giving your audience an opportunity to buy from you!
There are many ways you can leverage this time of year, depending on what works best for you and the types of products or services you offer.
Leveraging doesn’t necessarily mean offering a discount. It could even mean charging more premium prices.
There’s a lot to this you could explore.
What you can offer for the New Year
For wellness professionals and coaches, the new year may be the time when their ideal clients are ready to invest in themselves, and need much more than resolutions to keep them on track.
This is a great time of year to launch a high-ticket offer.
Same goes for the spring season.
You put a heck of a lot of work into creating these types of offers either on the front end (1:1 services) or the back end (courses, memberships, etc)
However, I still think it’s important to be aware of how you can package and promote these offerings in a way that:
- Is less work for you right now, leading into your busy season
- Meets the RCVR criteria
- Contributes to a sustainable and profitable business all year, because the offer is easily repeatable. You can refine an existing Evergreen/On demand course or membership, or create a suite of offerings.
If you are launching something new, you can offer a beta program and pre-sell it, which also makes your life a lot easier.
This is something I explore more deeply in the Future Proof Academy in a lesson about packaging.
Remember, your high-ticket offer must be relevant to your ideal client, provide value, have a solid foundation of credibility and trust backing it up, and by the time they get to this stage, buyers need to feel confident that the risk is low.
Again, having an email list full of aligned and engaged subscribers, and nurturing them, will pay off.
You can also certainly offer some entry-level, low-cost, low-risk items as well, similar to the Black Friday examples.
4. Allow yourself enough time to promote your offerings. (Read: Start in October!)
I’ve made the mistake SO many times. Time sneaks up on me and I want to kick myself for allowing another opportunity to set up some products to promote in time for Black Friday or the holidays to pass me by.
Now I make sure I have products already set up and put the promotion cycle on my calendar.
This means doing some actual planning, and thinking strategically instead of just tactically. That’s why us marketing nerds like to talk about funnels (they don’t have to be complicated) and strategy.
The “just wing it and do what feels good” method means missed opportunities.
5. Prepare your pre-promotional and promotional emails.
I recommend starting out the promotional cycle with emails that are NOT promotional, but offer high value, answer important questions my ideal clients often ask related to my offers, and lead up to, in a logical way, the thing I want to sell. (pre-promotional)
In other words, what do they need to know about you and your offer before they buy?
Put these on your planning calendar, working backwards from the date of your launch or seasonal promotion.
Then comes the part that many are squeamish about.. The actual promotional emails.
Sending just one shy promo email probably isn’t going to work. People are busy. They forget. Single emails get buried.
Yes, you will be sending well-written, multiple emails over a shorter time period, typically within a week. All based on proposing the “Yes/No” question.
Of course, you want to respect your subscribers’ inboxes, but on the other hand, if we never go for the ASK.. we’re not going to be getting much ROI for our email marketing investment in money or time.
The keys to success:
- Make sure your list is aligned with your message, so that you are always speaking to people that actually want to be there
- Take CARE of the subscribers on your list. “Nurture” the people on that list. (that’s a real marketing term)
- Timing is also important. The time to do these more intense promo cycles may be during these seasons of opportunity, and easing back during other times of the year.
- Segment your list so that if you have some offers or tips that are relevant only to some, you only send to that segment.
For example, you may have some clients that might be more interested in learning more about how to improve their sports performance with yoga, and others who may be more interested in hormone balancing for perimenopause or menopause.
- Good COPY can make or break your sales. Make sure that the copy on these emails is compelling! (Practice makes perfect)
Schedule these emails on your planning calendar.
6. Start “promoting” on all your current channels with content relevant to your offers.
For example, if I’m offering a course on branding, I can start talking about branding on social media, in my email broadcasts, or on a podcast or YouTube. I can leverage the branding quiz I created.
Note: You don’t need to be on every channel. Pick the ones you enjoy, your ideal clients use, and that you can realistically focus on.
Let’s use an example of a course about eliminating a sugar addiction. That’s your end point.
To turn up the RCVR you could:
- Share some recipes that mitigate sugar cravings
- Talk about the effects of sugar on aging as a guest on a podcast
- Write a blog about how and why sugar addiction is a problem for many.
You can also repurpose your older content to use in your promo cycle leading up to the time of your offer.
Then you could offer a mini course on sugar addiction for $37 on Black Friday (or whatever your price point is) to a much warmer audience.
How can you reverse engineer the cycle starting in October?
What free content can you present that will answer the questions your ideal client (at any stage of the buying cycle or journey) will need to know?
Remember RCVR while also keeping it sustainable for YOU. (PS)
What can you repurpose? (Videos become podcasts, podcast transcripts become blogs, etc)
What can you recycle? (Evergreen blogs that are cycled into rotation at certain times of the year) Like this one!
7. Consider Urgency: It’s not always a slimy tactic
Yes, that. I know that some grumble about creating hype and a fake sense of urgency. For some products and services, I agree, this doesn’t seem appropriate, and it’s better to make sure that when people buy it, they feel good about it and don’t end up with buyer’s remorse.
The main goal is to make sure it’s a good match, and make it available for people when they are ready to buy. Because sometimes the buying cycle is longer.. It’s not unheard of for subscribers or leads to follow for months or years before buying.
Impulse buys for higher-ticket items seldom work.
However, low priced items are a bit different. The buying cycle is shorter. Sometimes it makes sense to have a time limit for these offers.
It doesn’t mean we are being disingenuous if we truly are offering a discount only for a short time. There’s a reason why I only offer discounts for short periods once or twice a year, or make an offer available for only 24 hours.
The key is that the time limit has to be real, and these types of deals don’t happen all the time.
One reason I like Black Friday is that this is a time of year when people are expecting and ready to buy these kinds of deals, so I can be prepared for it.
- Build your email list with qualified leads
- Build trust by being consistent with your communication year round
- Know the power of RCVR
- Create offers that are both profitable and sustainable for you year round
- Explore what offerings and price points may work for you at different times of the year
- Reverse engineer: For winter busy seasons, start with “soft” promoting in the autumn
- Don’t be afraid to ASK the Yes/No question. It’s normal, and actually kind of weird NOT to.
- Prepare free content you can use to dial up RCVR in prep for your busy season
- Repurpose and leverage existing content! (Cycle your content seasonally)
- Creating a sense of urgency can be totally appropriate when not abused
- Don’t be afraid to experiment and get creative.
- Try some advanced techniques, like upsells and bump offers!
Remember that different types of offers may work at different times of the year, and that there’s no hard and fast rules about this.
Much will depend on your own business and goals.
Tired of trying to figure it all out on your own?
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