Archive for July, 2011

The One Big Mistake Netflix Made

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Earlier this month, I received the infamous Netflix email, telling me that they were increasing fees and separating their streaming package offering from their DVD-by-mail package offering.

I read the rants by infuriated customers on Facebook and Twitter.

But there was one glaring mistake that Netflix made that could have circumvented the whole drama: they should have told us WHY.

Social psychologists have studied this phenomenon: when you tell people why you’ve made a certain decision, why you’re asking for a certain favor, or why the traffic is backed up for 10 miles, they accept it and it decreases their anxiety about the situation. When you don’t keep them informed, they resist change.

Netflix, in later news reports, indicated two reasons why they changed their pricing:

  • first, because the cost of streaming those movies has gone up compared to what they used to pay (a nine-fold increase over the same time last year),
  • second, less people are choosing the DVD-by-mail route, seemingly preferring the streaming option (75% of new subscribers choose streaming-only).

Of course, they didn’t tell us that when they sent the email a few weeks ago. They only talked about it in an earnings call in late July.

When you look at their reasoning and their statistics, as a business owner you can see that it makes perfect sense to split the DVD-streaming combo into two separate offerings. Even a non-business-owner would have “gotten it.” But by not telling us in the first email they sent, they allowed imaginations and emotions to run wild. Stupid, stupid PR mistake.

A lot of business owners didn’t raise their fees during the Recession because of the backlash that would have arisen. NOW they’re thinking, “Hey, I haven’t raised my fees in 3 years.” Just tell your customers why your’e doing it.

Next time you’re cancelling a class or changing a program offering or moving a project start date, make sure you tell your customers why. It will save you a lot of headaches and backlash later.

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Category: Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Dealing With Overwhelm

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As I sit here writing my “to do” list for the upcoming months, I can feel that weird little tingle in the pit of my stomach: Overwhelm. There’s so much to do! How will I get it all done?

Then I remember all the tricks and tips I’ve learned over the years of how to manage entrepreneurial overwhelm:

1. Breathe. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take several deep breaths. Close your eyes and take a visual and emotional break from the craziness.

2. Get Organized. Write down your “to do” list all in one place (instead of having all those little Post-It notes all over your desk). Next, write a priority next to each item on your list. Is it urgent (“U”)? Is it Important But Not Urgent (“I”)? Is it something that has to be done this month, or can it wait until next month?

3. Get Help. Look at your list and determine if everything on it must be done by you. Don’t fall into the trap of “Oh, it will take me longer to explain it to someone than to just do it myself.” Instead, think of the “explaining time” as an investment: once you explain it one time, the other person can document the procedure and repeat it over and over again.

4. Action Alleviates Anxiety. Pick one high-priority task on your “to do” list and do it. Nothing relieves stress better than getting off your butt and taking action. Don’t fall in the trap of picking a low-priority task just because it’s easy. Do the things that matter.

5. Just Say No. Look at your “to do” list and ask yourself if you can simply say No to any of these tasks? Remember, you are in control of your task list and your calendar. Only you can overbook yourself, so only you can say No to requests for your time.

6. Focus. Avoid the temptation to multi-task and choose instead to focus solely on the task in front of you. If you have to, set a kitchen timer and tell yourself you’ll work on the task for 15 or 30 minutes without taking a break or doing other work.

Want more tips? Read my blog post 44 Tips for Dealing with Overwhelm!


I think I’ll start by taking a nice long breath…

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Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time
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