5 Lessons I Learned from Our Semi-Annual Sale

portrait of christina scalera in a black tank top with long beaded necklace standing outside posing with huge smile as she looks to her right

5 things I learned during our last sale, and how it applies to your business.

1. You can never give your customers too much information—both about the sale and the products.

Our number one take-away from the sale was that you guys needed more information—you needed even more information about when the sale was happening, that it was coming and more details on the specific products. Well, I know. And it’s coming.

I had every intention of having the new site (this one!) launched by the time the semi-annual sale came around in July. In May, I had to make a call. Would I postpone our sale to launch it last minute while scrambling on a brand new site + platform, or use what I had even though it was way less than ideal?

You obviously know what I chose since this website launched in October, and not June, and now you know why. It would have been way too much work (and stress) to make sure things were running smoothly + perfectly fine before the launch on a new site/platform. Sometimes, you have to make do with what you have, even if what you have is severely limiting (trust me, compared to the new site, what I have now is laughable).

Lesson: If you’re telling yourself you can’t work with that client until you have a styled shoot published in XYZ magazine, or that you can’t charge what you really want until you are better, or have a better camera, or have more experience, etc., is it true? Is there something you could do now, that would get you out there, even if it kinda sucks? 

2. More emails = more money.

I’m a recovering email-send-hoarder. I used to hoard all my best content and save it up for the perfect day, then send it out to everyone. Just blast ‘em with it. No segmenting, no minding who received these. And no surprise, tons of people would jump off my list.

So then I would be even more cautious about sending my next email, to the point where y’all only heard from me 1x/week. Maybe that’s fine with most of you, but I actually like you. I like hearing back from you, I like seeing what you open and click on and I LOVE creating content that connects with you. So to only have a maximum of 52 chances each year to find this out means it would be a very long, slow process to see what you like.

This vicious cycle had to stop, and I put my foot down (with myself) and just basically said “screw it,” and sent more emails. During a sale, even though I used to be terrified to hit send, myself and my team were rewarded with more sales. You like me, you really like me! (<<okay, wayyyy too dramatic, but you get the point). I actually think you just like emails with juicy content, so I’ll send more of that, mmmmkay?

Lesson: DON’T BE AFRAID TO HIT SEND! If you are hesitating to send what you consider to be “a lot” of emails, send them anyway for a month and see if your open rates and clicks go up (mine did and so did everyone who has tried more emails with better content before me). The key here is to deliver something valuable.

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3. Facebook ads are not a magic bullet. They’re more like a limp noodle.

I wasted a lot of money on a fancy Facebook ads agency to run my ads for me over the past two months. That’s more than my first promo in January 2016 earned, times two. That didn’t even count what I spent on Facebook itself for the actual ads. I thought I was ready to hand off my ads to someone who could 3x what I was doing. I was wrong.

Everyone told me I HAD to learn how to do my own Facebook ads first before I handed them off. I half agree with that statement, but if I could go back and do it over, I would definitely err on the side of doing more myself, “wasting” my budget on trial and error, than on handing over my ads (and bank account) for a wild Schlitterbahn-worthy ride.

Lesson: Resist the temptation to spend for spending’s sake. Let’s say you’ve exhausted ALL your organic reach options (which I do not believe is possible)-- if you’re throwing money at something that has no traction, you’re not going to magically find a consumer base.

4. We will definitely be running the ReferralUP Challenge again!

Speaking of getting new clients, the ReferralUp Challenge was a huge success. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it was a five day challenge designed to get participants new clients, new referral partners and a new confidence in their ability to keep up the momentum they built on their own.

I was honest with the participants of the challenge that this was the first one I had ever run. Like everything else I do for the first time, I way over delivered. In hindsight, they got so much goodness that I’m considering taking all that work and turning it into a paid course. It reminds me of this Airbnb we took a chance on in Johannesburg—it was her first time renting her guest house out (everyone has one in JoBurg...it’s kinda weird) and since she was French, she bought us champagne and super expensive candles as gifts. Very sweet, but a little over the top. Definitely reminiscent of the challenge. 

Lesson: Deliver great value. Treat people well. The sales will follow, and your audience + purchasers will be happy campers.

5. Only give people what they crave.

Maybe I’m being a little redundant with point number two above, but I can’t stress this enough—you need to develop content and products so good they read/sell themselves.

Find the consumers you want to serve, develop an offering they are craving. No one is craving wedding photographers who photograph couples committed to each other.

However, there are many people craving a photographer who meets them where they’re at (and it’s not on Instagram).

To highlight this, my partner Joe and I shot a wedding for a couple—a lawyer married a veterinarian. We now have four other potential gigs lined up if we want them (I don’t). It wasn’t our pricing (they offered us thousands more than we requested). It wasn’t our style (neither of us are wedding photographers). They just didn’t know of any other photographers, and by the time they met us, they didn’t want our referrals or heed our warnings that we’re lawyers, not wedding photographers.

Tip: If you think it’s impossible to find new clients, stop putting yourself in front of the same people everyone else is searching for.

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Watch this video to hear about The Contract Shop's recent client experience and how you can use it to create a better experience for your own customers.

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