Designing Promotions that Benefit You and Your Customers

Sales promotions are a powerful weapon in the arsenal of business owners around the world. They can help draw in customers, increase revenue, clear out unsold inventory, and make visitors more likely to patronize your business in the future. Driving sales has become more important than ever as small businesses across the country struggle in the current economic climate, but savvy business owners realize that they’re not the only ones struggling. Customers need relief too, and they won’t soon forget any efforts you make to help them out. Charitable donations and volunteering are excellent ways to support your local community, but the current crisis may not have left you with any spare time or cash. If pure philanthropy isn’t an option, running promotions that benefit both you and your customers may be the next best thing. But putting up custom flags and other physical promotions isn’t enough to make a great sale. Here are some ideas to help you design mutually beneficial promotions that help your customers without hurting your bottom line.

Picking Products and Selecting Services

The first step in designing a mutually beneficial promotion is to choose which product(s) and/or service(s) you want to emphasize, as the type and scope of the promotion will greatly affect your customers’ behavior. For instance, discounting one or a handful of products will naturally push customers toward those items, great for clearing out unsold inventory. On the other hand, offering a discount on all products sitewide will likely result in increased sales across the board. 

Think about what your customers need right now, what they’ve asked for from you and your staff, and start crafting your promotions accordingly. Slap discounts or rebates on products they need but might be having trouble affording, offer free or reduced express shipping rates, even institute an in-store pickup or curbside delivery policy if you haven’t already. Anything to help your customers get what they need when they need it. 

Marginal Margins

If you’re like a lot of small business owners, chances are your margins are pretty slim before you even factor in discounts and two for one deal. Unfortunately, those slim margins are going to need to take another haircut if you want to run promotions that actually benefit your customers. No one’s expecting you to sell your products at a loss, but you shouldn’t expect much profit until the crisis has passed, either. Think of it this way: every dollar in profit that you forego in the interest of helping your customers will come back to you in the form of goodwill and repeat business. Just make sure your customers know about the financial hit you’re taking on their behalf.

Nice and Easy

Making a promotion that benefits the customer isn’t just about giving great deals, it’s about making it as easy for the customer to claim as possible. Your first priority is making sure your customers know about the promotion using physical advertisements like custom banners, online advertisements, and even local television ads. Once you have your customers’ attention, your next move should be to remove as many barriers as possible. Let customers claim the promotion without a coupon at your physical locations, and distribute promotional codes on your website so your patrons won’t have to scour their email inboxes. Even offering a guest checkout option can help ensure customers don’t get frustrated at having to create an account for your site. 

Pleasant Surprises

Adding in a few nice surprises here and there can also help improve your customers’ experience and make them feel better about taking advantage of your promotion. For instance, there are few things that cause sales to fall through like unexpected fees at checkout. Unexpected discounts, however, put smiles on faces and make customers come back for more. Try surprising customers with free shipping, or a coupon for their next purchase, or even throw in a fun freebie like a branded mousepad or lanyard


It’s human nature to want to help others, but you don’t have to make big donations of time or money to help support your customers during stressful times. With some thoughtful planning you can create sales promotions that increase revenue while also helping out your customers.

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