Discounts / Special Offers


Recently in one of our SVA Skype marketing chats the subject of discounts and incentives came up - some people gave a % discount, others gave an hour free or some people gave gifts.

[color=darkred]To Discount or Not To Discount, that is the question:

What works for you? Do you give them up front? Free hours rather than money off? Any strong views on this one - feel free to be strident!!!



I give a 10% off your first invoice discount, and at Christmas I give a 5% off voucher to regular clients. Sometimes, if I’m networking, I’ll give an event discount if they sign up as a customer following the networking, eg, depending on the time of year the networking event is held, I’ll have a “Spring Madness”, or “Silly Summer Sale”, or “New year, new you” promotion with a percentage off on top of the 10% discount on their first invoice.

The punters seem to like that, and if you have enough bright posters/signs on your little corner of the table at the event, advertising your promotion, it does bring curious people to you…


I give clients 10% off thier first invoice and occasionally run promotions (summer and christmas time) where they use so many hours over a specific period, then they get some free hours.

I also offer referrals - refer a client and get a tenner or they can donate the money to charity if they would prefer. They only get this amount, once the referral has paid their invoice.


Personally I do discounts only when someone commits to a set number of hours per month - they don’t get the discount unless they commit the hours…

I also do free trials where people get 1 hour of free PA work or 1 week’s call answering - this let’s them get used to the idea of using the service and gives me a good idea as to whether I want to work with them.

Like the idea of themed discounts though - great idea!


I only give a discount for a set number of hours per month. If a client commits to using my services I ‘reward’ him/her with a discount of 10% plus a one-hour free ‘special offer’.



Absolutely no discounts.


Gosh! After reading all these posts, I sound over-generous. Not only do I offer these promotional discounts, but clients who sign up to a retainer package get a discounted rate for a set number of hours.

Mind you - the networking sessions being few and far between, and the promo discount being 5%, it doesn’t exactly break the bank! As I live in an area where people are particularly keen to get as much as possible for almost nothing, they do seem to be attracted by the idea that they can get something off before they’ve even signed up!

Horses for courses I suppose.


It’s weird because I always feel guilty about discounting because essentially what I’m doing is devaluing my services, when I spend half my time trying to justify why they are high.

The reasons why my prices are higher than a temp or a subcontractor on the other side of the world are:

  • They are paying for my experience & professionalism.
  • They are paying not just for me but for my team, the office, and the network I have.
  • They are paying so that I can continue to be in business with marketing costs, and ongoing expenditure so I can continue to serve them the next time they want to use me.

But it’s only fair that someone who guarantees a set amount each month on an ongoing basis gets a bit of a break…After all is easier for me to budget and organise work flow if I know I always get XYZ in a month.

Any other views?



It’s all in how you market it. If you make it sound like some sort of deal, people will always go for it, but you shouldn’t cut off your nose to spite your face, as it were!

For years I’ve worked with top end restaurants and they don’t do discounts. They do, however, once a year only, do a promotion which involves 2 courses for (this year) £15. As they had some of the top restaurants taking part (Pompadour in Edinburgh’s Caley hotel!!) you can imagine it worked quite well. As it’s done in January/February when tables are quiet anyway, it’s a win-win situation for everyone. The only one that lost out last year was when a well known London store which has an Edinburgh (and Leeds) branch took part; and they basically took the p*ss and offered a ‘school dinner menu’. There were lots of complaints and they weren’t invited to join in this year and won’t be invited again.

One of our IQPS branches did a promotional deal on annual subs where folk got a couple of months extra if they paid up there and then. That brought the money in faster.


I suppose a lot of it is about being able to predict your work flow and bring in business when it’s quiet.

For me, it’s quiet over the summer (well, ish… we get a lot of holiday cover) and then again at Christmas.

But actually I quite like being quieter at Christmas coz I get to spend a bit more time with my family and we all work flexi-time to cover phones and things. I (sadly!) spend the time working on my marketing plan and strategising.

I actually quite enjoy it and it’s a good escape from too much intensive family time! (Don’t tell my mum!!! :wink: )


Hi everyone

I’ve done my bit of reading here, and I wonder if it’s common or not at all in the VA world, to offer products along with discount offers or that’s a no-no?

Would 1 free hour on top of the offer be sensible?

Doing some planning ahead of summer when work may slow down.

Thanks for your help, always appreciated



Hi Jona

There’s two schools of thought on this one:
1 - if you can’t afford to pay me, I can’t afford to work with you, you aren’t my target market
2 - it might tempt people into trying out a service they are nervous about

I guess the disclaimer on 2 is that you want to make it temporary and you don’t want it to cannibalise on any fully paid work you have or might get…

I think this might be useful as a guide:


@caroline good points, as always! My intentions are to make it a one time offer with a little discount (+1 hrs free). But will see how it goes. Still to decide on details.
Thank you!