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Amazing special offer ideas for your small business

By Leanne Rhodes (NSBC)

Small business owners constantly need to be on their toes to ensure a steady flow of sales, new customers and the continued support and engagement of existing customers. Running special offers are a quick and sure-fire way to achieve these objectives and stay on your customers’ radar.

When the term “special offer” is mentioned, many business owners tend to assume you mean a discount, but this is not necessarily the case. A discount is indeed one type of promotional offer, but it may not be something your business can consider at this point. If this is the case, it is useful to know that there are a variety of other strategies you can employ which can be as effective, if not more, in the long run.

Before we explore these, however, it is vital to know exactly what you’d like to achieve by establishing clear objectives.

Step 1: Define your goals

Take a moment to identify a clear and achievable goal. For example, are you looking to:

Take a moment to identify a clear and achievable goal. For example, are you looking to:

  • Attract new customers,
  • Re-engage with old customers,
  • Reach sales targets in a slow period,
  • Move older or end of range stock, or
  • Highlight a new service or product line?

This will help focus your messaging and enable you to evaluate the success of your efforts.

Step 2: Know your margins

Once you have established your goals, it’s time to create your offer. You may be considering a very enticing 30% discount. This will most certainly create hype and boost your sales but are you sure you have enough margin to make that offer and still make a profit? A promotion should benefit your business, not harm it. That’s why it is important to know your margins, mark-up and breakeven point to find the balance between what you’d like to offer and how much revenue you still need to generate.

Step 3: Create your offer

Next would be to select the type of offer you’d like to run. There are a variety of strategies to consider when creating a special offer, such as value added offers and discounts.

Value Added Offers

  • Add-On / BOGO (Buy One Get One)
    According to Amy Saunders ( “An experiment conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management saw researchers sell 73 percent more hand lotion by offering a bonus pack, as compared to offering an equivalent discount. Because consumers perceive free stuff to be more valuable than discounts, adding products or services can bring in new customers—who then stick around and buy more.”

    So, in your next promo consider adding an additional element to boost the value of the overall purchase. Be sure to choose something that is exciting but doesn’t strain your resources or budget too dramatically. E.g. A hairdresser can offer a free hair treatment with any cut and blow-wave. Or a computer company might offer free installation support with the purchase of computer hardware or software. Offering great support will not only be an incentive to buy but will also improve the overall customer experience, which often has long-lasting and far-reaching benefits.
  • Freebie for coming into the store
    Something as simple as a cappuccino, a special edition shopping bag or something small and thoughtful could increase your store traffic. Once the clients are in your store you will then have the opportunity to connect with them in person and potentially make a sale.
  • Free download
    Why not use technology to create something that can be downloaded over and over again without any additional expense but that offers incredible value to the customer? For example, a helpful digital guide full of tips, instructional video or course, calendar or printable gift cards?
  • Free consultation
    By offering a short free consultation or evaluation you not only offer your clients a risk-free way of assessing your products or services, but you also establish your credibility and highlight your skills. If you impress them, there will surely be the opportunity to upsell.


  • Create a package or bundle
    This type of upsell opportunity will entice customers to order more items and be rewarded with bundle pricing.
  • Quantity discount
    Why not consider offering a percentage discount or ‘get one free’ when customers buy a set number of items? For example, buy 4 get 1 free. This is a great strategy when your goal is to move a large number of products.
  • Seasonal / periodic sale
    Analyse your sales cycles and see when your sales tend to dip. This would be an excellent time to launch this type of promotion to boost sales.
  • End of range
    If you have random items that are just sitting around and collecting dust, why not make space in that storeroom by offering an end of range special price?
  • Discount code
    Offer a discount code to a select group of your audience. This will not only make them feel valued but also foster loyalty.
  • Flash sale
    A limited time offer gets those procrastinators to make purchase decisions fast e.g. Creating a one-day-only sale for #SmallBizFriday (6 September 2019).
  • Lifestyle discounts
    A discount offered to a very specific group of people. For example: Do you have a small business product? Why not offer it to entrepreneurs and small businesses at a slight discount on #SmallBizFriday?
  • Joint discount
    The old saying, ‘two is better than one’ is fitting in this strategy. Have you considered partnering with another small business to offer something unique and mutually beneficial? Not only can you market this to your clients, but it will be marketed to theirs as well, opening doors for new potential business.

Have you created your special offer for Small Business Friday?

Small Business Friday, brought to you by the NSBC, is the biggest small business day of the year! It’s a 365-day movement that peaks on the 1st Friday of Spring every year. The aim of Small Business Friday is to inspire South African’s to support their local small businesses.

This year, small businesses are encouraged to create incredible one-day-only special offers which they will promote on 6 September 2019 on social media, using #SmallBizFriday. This offer is a mechanism to fuel interest, boost sales and potentially bring small businesses new customers on #SmallBizFriday.

Take advantage of all the extra traffic and attention created by the buzz of #SmallBizFriday and share your special offers here today. You could win a NSBC Membership (valued at R1950) and a R500 voucher to spend at The Build a Business Academy.