5 Reasons Why Your Last Sales Promotion Flopped

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Hey! Welcome to another episode of the Simplify Your Sales podcast! One of the biggest hangups I hear from people running their Etsy shop is that they don’t feel like they have any control over how and when they make money in their businesses. 

Today we’re going to talk about a “quick fix” for this to inject cash into your business when you need it most. And that is to run a sales promotion, one of my favorite pick-me-up business strategies in the world because it’s fast, easy, and results in a happy bank account. 

And just so we’re all on the same page, a sales promotion is simply a time in your shop when you offer your items at a discounted price. 

In my many years of running sales on everything from digital art prints to baby headbands to digital education products, I’ve made A LOT of mistakes which has led me to revisit and refine my sales each and every time to create a better sales experience for both myself and my customers. 

So if you have ever WANTED to host a sale in your shop but aren’t sure how, or maybe you’ve hosted a sale and rang up a chorus of *crickets* instead of *cha-chings*, then today’s podcast episode is for you because we’re going to be diving into the nitty gritty of running a profitable promotion in your shop and what mistakes I see ALL THE TIME (mistakes I’ve made as well! )that are causing your sales to flop hard while your competitor is selling out of inventory.

Trust me– it’s not YOU or your products that are the problem–and by the end of this episode, hopefully you’ll have a good idea of what changes YOU need to make to host your most profitable sale ever!

Now really quick, if you’re one of those people that is thinking “nope, I’ve never run a sale and I’m never going to. People should ALWAYS pay full price!” then that is TOTALLY fine and absolutely your choice and I am not here to persuade you to do it. So you can get out of defensive mode 😉

But like I said earlier, sales are a fantastic way to get a rush of orders in your shop and create an incredible cash-injection in your business when seasons are slow or for whatever reason you might need a cash influx in your business. They’re a fantastic way to get those “fence-sitter” people– you know, the ones that have your product in their cart for MONTHS and don’t ever purchase the dang thing? Well, it’s a great way to get them to jump off the fence and motivate them to take action! 

So without further ado, let’s dive in and talk about 4 mistakes you might have made in the past when running a sale…and what you can do to fix them moving forward 🙂

Mistake #1 – Not offering something your customer actually wants

We’re kicking things off with a BIG mistake I see– not offering something that your customer actually wants. 

And this can be either your PRODUCT or your SALE PROMOTION. 

So let’s talk about your product first–

Regardless of how passionate *you* are about your product, at the end of the day if you’re trying to sell it on Etsy, you need to think less about what YOU like, and more about what your customers are interested in. The MINUTE you put your items up for sale, it becomes about them. And you need to make sure that your products are validated with your audience– that there’s a market for them and that people are interested and willing to buy. 

If you’ve made decent sales in the past, then awesome– your product idea is validated and you are good to go. If you haven’t made more than a handful of sales no matter how much effort you’ve poured into your shop, it’s time to take a step back and revisit your product offering. If you need help with that, I actually have a podcast episode allllllll about the product validation strategy over in episode 6, which I will definitely link to in the show notes. 

Okay, so that’s if you’re not offering a PRODUCT that your customers wants. 

But what if your product HAS been validated but your sale still falls flat on its face?

Well then, that comes down to your actual sale and what you’re offering there. 

I know it’s so, so easy to want to keep your profit margins high and offer the promo of least resistance so you can end up with more money in your pocket, but if it’s not enough to motivate people to take action, you’re better off pouring your time and energy into something else instead. 

Likewise, if your make your sale too complicated (like 10% off orders of baby hats that are $45 or more), it can put your customers off. And that’s just solid business strategy– the easier you can make ANY aspect of your business, the more sales you will get. 

So keep that sale super simple and super impactful. And if you have NO idea what your audience would respond to, give them a couple options and ASK. It’s the fastest and easiest and most EFFECTIVE way to get an answer. 

Alright, Mistake #2 – Not building hype prior to your sale

This is a BIG one and the foundational problem for *most* sales if I’m being honest– and it’s the fact that you’re not letting your audience know that there is, indeed, a sale coming up.

If you have waited until your sale is live– or even the day before– you have waited TOO LONG. One of the BEST indicators and determiners of your sale’s success is in the hype you build up PRIOR to your sale going live. 

People are freakin’ busy, and there are approximately 1 bajillion OTHER shops out there competing for their attention at any given moment. If you want them to know about your sale, you have GOT to be mentioning it in the weeks leading up to your sale. The more they see and hear about it, the more likely they will be to pay attention and actually SHOP your sale when it’s go time– because they’ve had the chance and time to PLAN FOR IT.  

This is EXACTLY why big retailers announce sales WEEKS (and sometimes even months) in advance– to plant the seed and get it growing in their customer’s minds. 

So don’t be shy–plan on talking about your upcoming sale AT LEAST 1 week in advance, preferably closer to 2. Get your people excited and error on the side of oversharing. You’ll feel 100,000x more confident going into your sales promotion if you already know your audience is excited and ready to pounce the minute the virtual doors open. 🙂

Mistake #3 – Not showing up for the duration

Oh my law, guilty as charged. 

I used to be so, so guilty for starting off a sales promotion strong…

…and then abandoning it mid-promo because I was either overwhelmed with orders, underwhelmed with a lack of orders, or just plain embarrassed to push my stuff on people in a way that would appear “sales-y.”

But when you hear the phrase “It’s not over until it’s over,” it’s cliche for a reason– A HUGE chunk of your sales will come in near the end of your promo period. And if you’ve abandoned ship halfway through because you are burnt out and would rather hide under the covers than talk about your sale again, lest you annoy someone, you are leaving some SERIOUS cash on the table. 

Have you ever seen a billboard for a concert or event and brushed it off, but then drove past that billboard again and again on your commute or trip to the grocery store or whatever and found yourself actually THINKING about said billboard even though it didn’t peak your interest at first glance?

That’s EXACTLY what showing up is all about– you need to make sure you are IN FRONT OF YOUR CUSTOMER at all times so then CAN’T forget you. 

Are you going to lose people during this period? Sure. But they weren’t your customers anyways and they were never going to buy. Your audience should be composed of people who want to BUY from you– not just follow along (something known as “vanity metrics”), so give them the chance to put their money where their mouth is. 

Planning out your entire sales promotion BEFORE your sale goes live is the #1 BEST tip I can offer you for staying with it through the end game because that’s when you have the most energy, the most hope, and the most excitement for your sale. 

And also? It’ll allow you to connect with your customers during the actual sale– instead of frantically trying to write up a crafty caption at 1 am for tomorrow morning. 

Plan out your images, your social media copy, your emails– anything and everything you can do in advance? DO IT. 

Your future self will thank you later. 😉 

Mistake #4 – Not creating urgency

This is one of my favorite tricks for getting people to take action– creating urgency *within* your sale that gets them off the fence and opening their wallets. 

If your sale is 7 days long, for example (which, we’ll talk about lengths of sales in a minute), you’re probably going to see a few sales that first day, and most of the sales on that last day, assuming you still have momentum in your sale and people haven’t forgotten about it. 

But when you build in URGENCY to your sale, you’ll be able to see more sales throughout the ENTIRE sale promotion and get people to take action while the momentum is high— which in turn, will create MORE momentum for your sale. It’s like a vicious cycle except it’s really great, haha! Not vicious at all. 

And while you may think “well, the sale ends in 7 days. That’s all the urgency they need.” that’s where you’re setting yourself up to miss out on DOZENS of potential sales. 

Instead, you’re going to want to build in some “limited time” offers WITHIN your sale– things like limited inventory, special bonuses for those who order by this date, etc. Anything you can do to “sweeten the deal” and move people towards the sale quicker will always, ALWAYS result in more sales– and a more positive selling experience for you, too!

Okay, and finally, Mistake #5 – Running the sale for too long. 

Speaking of urgency, yes, you absolutely should be adding built-in urgency to your sale like we just talked about. 

But the LENGTH of your sale should ALSO provide your customers with a sense of urgency. Going too long can kill a sale faster than just about anything. 

So what’s the recommended time? I like to run sales for eCommerce products no longer than 96 hours– enough time to give your customers a chance to purchase, but not so much time that they can hem and haw and completely forget about that incredible value you have to offer them. As a general rule, the higher the product price, the longer the sale can be. However, with products under $100, a short sale of 72 – 96 hours is perfectly reasonable. Remember– you’re building up hype BEFOREHAND so your audience is going to be well-aware that your sale is happening and 3-4 days is PLENTY of time for them to snag the deal. 

So just as a quick recap:

Mistake #1 – Not offering something your customer actually wants

Mistake #2 – Not building hype prior to your sale

Mistake #3 – Not showing up for the duration

Mistake #4 – Not creating urgency

Mistake #5 – Running the sale for too long. 

Whether you’re making one or even ALL of these mistakes, taking the time to work these tips and strategies into your next sale is going to make you more profitable than ever!

Alright, and there you have it!

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Simplify Your Sales podcast (but seriously– thank you or else I’d just be talking to myself!). 

If you liked what you heard, make sure you subscribe to the Simplify Your Sales podcast over on iTunes where I share a new episode every single week. And if you’ve found ANY sort of value in this episode, I would head over heels LOVE YOU (in a non-creepy way, pinky promise) if you left a review so that this free resource can get in front of as many eyes as possible. 

Thanks for tuning in and I’ll see you next week, same time, same place, teaching you how to build a business that supports your lifestyle…and not the other way around! 

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