I’ve received several good questions this week, and it’s awesome to see how many of them are beneficial to small business owners across the board! The one I chose to answer first this week was the top candidate (in my opinion) for being something that can benefit everyone. Here is the question:

“With the holidays around the corner, I want to run some specials. The problem is, I own a small carpet cleaning business and I can’t afford to knock much off the price of my services. Any ideas how I can get around spending a bunch of money but still run a special?”

Well, first of all, I can tell you that you are definitely not alone in the lack of spending money department. That is the case for most, or all, small businesses. I do have some ideas for you, but it’s also important to keep in mind that the only way to get customers through your door isn’t necessarily specials or discounts. Though that is a smart move, because people love a good deal, there are other options. For example, send out a nice email or text to your customers wishing them a happy holiday season. That is free, and it is something that will make your customers feel appreciated and noticed. It’s always nice to get a kind greeting from someone, especially someone who you think wouldn’t remember you during the season. Another free, but effective method to try is social posting! Post a happy holiday greeting to your social pages and let your customers feel recognized and reminded of you.

Now, back to the original question. Here are some ideas of ways you can run a special or discount, without breaking the bank:

Offer a Small Dollar Amount off Any Service

The reason it’s nice to offer a specific dollar amount as your discount is because a percentage off can end up being quite expensive when someone gets an expensive job done. Offering $10 or $20 off any service ensures that you won’t end up giving someone $50+ dollars off an expensive service, like you might if you were to offer your discount as a percentage. It may not seem like much, but if your competitor has prices similar to yours, and your services become $10 cheaper, you will be the obvious choice. People love to save money, especially around the holidays, even if it’s not much!

Offer a Discount on a Follow-Up Service

Offering a discount on someone’s follow-up or next service is effective in making sure you get their business again, but it also provides some benefit without you having to sacrifice during the holidays. Maybe December-March are your slower months, and then things pick back up again in time for your customer to receive their discount. If you are interested in keeping customers coming back, which all business owners should be, then this is a great place to start. It also gives your customer the satisfaction of knowing that they are receiving a great deal in the future.

Offer a Discount for a Referral

If your customer helps you to get someone else through the door, why not reward them?! After all, they contributed to you getting more business that could potentially become lifelong. As soon as you complete a job for a customer’s referral, send your customer a coupon for a discounted service. Again, this ensures they will be coming back, and it also helps them feel appreciated and inclined to send more business your way. This is a great way to offer discounts, and make up for the money lost in new business.

In other words, there are several ways to offer holiday specials without having to sacrifice too much of your business’ cash flow. Don’t hesitate to try out the free ideas first, and then go for the discount options as a back-up!

For more insights on marketing strategy that actually works for small business, subscribe to the FreshLime Newsletter here. Connect with Jay Bean, Founder of FreshLime and Small Business Marketing Expert on LinkedIn and Twitter. And last of all, if any of these tips have helped you or if you have anything to add please comment below. We’d love to hear from you!