How to Make Special Offers Potential Attendees Can’t Refuse

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you can plan a picture-perfect event, in the best venue imaginable, with top performers or speakers, and a program to die for, but still fail to sell the event. That’s where sales promotion techniques come in. Discounts, coupons, freebies, prizes, and other kinds of special offers are a proven and highly effective way of attracting new customers, retaining previous event participants, and in many cases counteracting the competition.

Now don’t get me wrong! It’s understandable that you want to to sell your tickets at full price all of the time. But keep in mind conservative spenders make up a large portion of almost every customer base, which means there are many people out there who want to buy tickets from you, just not at their regular price. Which in turn means adding an effective special offer to your sales process WILL increase the event’s bottom line.


Making an Offer ‘Special’

Special offers must be managed strategically from start to finish, if they are to be effective and you are to receive the greatest benefits. Your aim is to strike a delicate balance, where both your organization and the buyer are happy with the completion of a purchase. This is where Weemss steps in with the not-so-secret 4 secret ingredients to making an offer ‘special’:

  1. Goal. What do you want to achieve with your special offer? Is it to acquire new customers, reward existing customers, or simply increase your event revenue. Once you define a goal you’re ready to decide on how to meet it.
  2. Value. Let’s make one thing perfectly clear – your customers can tell a good value offer from a bad one. A sales promotion must never be in the latter category. If you have doubts that your offer isn’t attractive, it probably isn’t.
  3. Profitability. The Special offer has to represent good value, but without sacrificing profitability margins. Do your maths to calculate its profitability and make sure the offer is healthy for your event revenue.
  4. Exclusivity. The final ingredient is the element of exclusivity. This usually means making it a timed offer, setting a maximum number of times it can be used, special seasonal sales, returning customer promo codes, etc.


With these 4 special ingredients your offers are en route to boosting your event revenue. Remember that there are many ways to utilize special offers for your event sales process and you shouldn’t limit yourself to using just one. Try different approaches with your promo codes, seasonal offers, promotional sales, etc. and see what works best for YOU!


Special Offers in Action

  • 2-for-1 offers
    2-for-1 offers are an excellent way of increasing conversions and at the same time bringing more people to the event. There’s nothing more sad than half-empty (or half-full, if like us, you always look on the bright side of life) event halls, so unless you are 100% certain of reaching maximum capacity, this option is worth considering. Keep in mind this offer equates to a 50% ticket discount, so if you don’t expect problems with low attendance numbers, it may not be a great choice.

  • Free upgrade offers
    A straight up offer that gives increased value without being tied to an actual discount. If such an upgrade doesn’t mean more expenses for your organization, it’s a good option. There’s a whole lot of people who’d jump at the chance to get a VIP pass for the conference, watch the concert from the best seats in the house, receive a business ticket without paying extra. Who wouldn’t!
  • Free t-shirt / book / anything
    Freebies. Everybody loves them. Again an increased value proposition without an actual discount. These offers can be a good motivator for those participants that are still in two minds about registering for your event and can be extremely budget-friendly, if the freebies are provided by one of your event partners. You get more registrations, participants are delighted with their gifts, and the event partner gets some extra attention.
  • 10% volume discounts
    You should always keep an eye on the average amount of tickets per order. By creating a special offer that gives a discount for orders that are larger than this average, you are essentially pushing towards increased order sizes. Let’s say people are buying 2 tickets per order for your event. Your special offer can give a 10% discount for orders with 3 or more tickets.
  • 20% limited time offers
    Timed offers are always a very strong driver of sales. Placing a timeline on your offer encourages potential buyers to act quickly and allows you to compare the periods with and without promotions. The percentage off the price can be lower or higher, but we consider 20% to be the most magical.
  • Voucher / Credit offers
    Discounts based on a set amount are perceived as a form of credit, which makes them an excellent way to incentivize a purchase. Again the set amount can vary according to the price of your tickets. As long as it’s an attractive offer the potential buyer will see good value in making that purchase and registering for your event!
  • Pre-launch offer
    Want to generate some buzz around your event and peak the potential buyer’s interest in it? Ask visitors on your website to sign up for your newsletter with their emails, if they are interested in your event and send them a promo code with a tasty discount in return. There’s also the “Early Bird” type of promotional sale, where you make a number of tickets available at a reduced price, before you start the general ticket sale.


  • Holiday sale offers
    Holidays are always a good time to announce a promotional sale, because the customer is notoriously hungry for a good deal and more importantly – willing to spend money! Savvy buyers and conservative spenders are awaiting your holiday special offer so they can get a ticket at a better price. Meeting their expectations goes a long way towards retaining these customers in the future. As an added bonus it also generates a positive vibe around the event and improves your brand’s image. Be aware though, that this kind of Special offer is rather predictable and overusing it causes sales outside of the promotional periods to suffer once your customers learn to anticipate them.
  • Unfinished registrations offers
    A technique used to try and bring people who didn’t complete the registration process for some reason back. There are event registration solutions that monitor and keep unfinished registration info and allow you to export it, so you can eventually contact these people and offer them the chance to register at a reduced price. For example, send them a promo code with a 10% or 20% discount that’s only active for the next 24 hours.
  • Loyal customer offers
    This one requires you to have a database of people who usually attend your events. Such databases are essential if you’re in the events business and help build strong relationships with your customers, event partners and sponsors. Sending the people in your database a promo code with a discount will show how much you value their business. And If the event registration software you’re using doesn’t let you retain all participant data after the event – it’s time to consider another!


The Weemss Advice

It’s important to understand that there are dangers to using promotional sales without a strategic approach. A special offer that gives good value to the event participant doesn’t necessarily mean a good piece of business for your organization. Here are some potential CONS you need to be aware of before coming up with your sales promotion strategy:

  • risk of devaluing the event experience
  • decreased profitability
  • lower sales outside of promotional periods
  • possibility of damaging the brand

Don’t let this worry you though. All of these negative effects are easily avoided, if you set a clear goal, and do some careful planning and maths. Which leaves one last thing to address…


Don’t Forget to Follow-through

When, at the start of this article, I said you must manage your special offers strategically from start to finish, I meant it 100%. The final piece of the puzzle is keeping track of all the sales resulting from these promotional campaigns. It’s important to know how your various special offers perform, so you can analyze the data and continue to improve the effectiveness of your promotions.


Featured image: derivative of Pawel Kadysz licensed under CC0