Archive for the 'Running a Strong & Efficient Business' Category

Avoid Pricing and Discounting Mistakes

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In 2008, Pizza Hut saw its sales drop because of the Great Recession. Competitors were lowering their prices and offering discounts — and Pizza Hut figured they had better offer a discount if they wanted to compete with Dominoes Pizza and Papa John’s Pizza for a dwindling market.

So in 2009, Pizza Hut began to offer a large cheese pizza with three toppings for $10 (the normal price was $15). Then they sweetened the deal by offering unlimited toppings for the same $10 price.

And sales rose.

That’s a good thing, right?

Fast forward to 2011. The economy was easing and Pizza Hut (and the other pizza competitors) now wanted to reinstate their normal pizza price of $15.

And customers resisted.

Why? Because of two psychological triggers:

  1. People had gotten used to paying only $10 for a pizza with unlimited toppings. When you increase the price back to the “normal” $15, people see that as a raise in price of 50 percent, conveniently forgetting the pre-2009 pricing.
  2. When you lower your prices, you devalue your product or service. You’re basically telling people, “It’s not worth $15, it’s only worth $10. We’ve been overcharging you all along.”

What do you do when sales are sluggish and you want to offer a discount, but you don’t want to imply that your products and services are worth less by lowering the price?

Enter the Concept of Adaptive Pricing

Here’s the psychology behind the concept: Customers have different needs, and place different values on the various aspects of your products and services — price being just one aspect they consider.

For example:

  • Many customers value access to a live instructor above learning on their own, so if they have questions they can get help immediately from the instructor. Therefore, they’re willing to pay more for a live class than a self-study program.
  • Some customers place value on group brainstorming and sharing of best practices to shorten the learning curve, and are willing to pay to be a member of a mastermind group.
  • Other customers value private one-on-one services and are willing to pay a premium price to get your total attention to find solutions to their problems and think strategically.

By knowing what your customers value — and creating pricing and discounts based on those values — you can increase customer satisfaction and sales at the same time.

But My Customers Want Low Prices!

Be careful of your own psychology: you might be a budget shopper yourself, but not all your customers are. If you constantly offer things for a discount (or for free!), it’s more about your own feelings about money and pricing than the needs of your customers.

For every customer who wants things as cheaply as possible, there are customers who demand extraordinary quality and are willing to pay for it. Just look at the different price/value levels of department stores (from Wal-Mart to Neiman Marcus) and you’ll see that there are huge ranges of quality, service, experience and price needs among customers.

Don’t assume your customers want cheap prices and are willing to take a lower quality service or product in order to get the lowest prices. Price based on the value of what you’re offering, and on your branding strategy. Are you the Wal-Mart of your industry or the Neiman Marcus? (Or somewhere in between?)

So, You Want to Offer a Discount

Great! Offering a discount has a lot of benefits for your business. Pay attention to your strategic purpose behind the discount — to increase sales, to increase demand, to test a pricing strategy, or to get the word out about a new product/service — and price accordingly.

When you offer your discount, test to see if your goals have been met. You may be assuming a discount will produce a certain results, and you could be wrong. Tracking your results is the only way to know for sure. (The numbers don’t lie!)

Three Adaptive Pricing Techniques to Use in Your Business

Versioning

For customers who are concerned about price above all else, offering them your product or service in a different version at a lower price-point will serve them while still keeping your sales up. Here’s an example:

  • I teach a 5-week class where students submit their homework assignments to me for review and analysis, and have access to me during class to ask questions. That class is priced at $499.
  • For the budget-conscious student, I offer similar material in a self-study version $299, (and they don’t have access to me at all if they purchase the self-study version).
  • For customers who want more private access to me to learn the topic and apply it specifically to their own business, they join an ongoing mastermind group that includes the class plus the group access. Each customer has a different need and by creating three versions of the service, I meet the needs of each type of customer.

Additions for Free

Another adaptive pricing technique is to offer an “extra” or “bonus” for free, but keep the base price of your product and service the same.

For example, you could offer your mastermind group to your customer at full price, but then offer them a free additional hour of your time. Walt Disney World theme park had a great success with offering their Buy Four Entry Tickets and Get Three Free package.

But don’t offer pseudo free bonuses unrelated to the product or service that customers are buying. Customers are now savvy to the free bonuses that many internet marketers offer (like: Buy Our Ebook and Get $40,000 Worth of Bonuses Free), and it just makes people think you’re trying to fool them, lowering trust and harming the relationship.

Unbundle

Everyone is telling you to combine a whole bunch of your offerings together, then give the customer a special price. But what if your customer doesn’t want everything in the bundle?

Consider offering your main product or service at full price, and then offering upgrades at a reduced price.

  • You could offer your live event for $1,200, then offer an hour of private consulting time for an additional (discounted) fee to those who are attending the live event. Or you could offer them an ongoing mastermind group for an additional fee.
  • Or you could offer them recordings of the live event for an additional fee. That way, customers can choose which upgrades are valuable to them and you can clearly see which upgrades are the winners in the eyes of your customer.

The key here is to know your customers, and know what they value when it comes to purchasing services and products. If you’re not sure, test out several pricing strategies and see which one pulls in the most revenue.

It’s also important to stop offering discounts when they are no longer needed to boost sales. Be strategic and think through your pricing ideas before implementing them so they don’t come back to bite you later!

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: How to Fire Your Assistant, Website Designer, etc.

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There must be something in the air. Three of my clients called me this week to talk about firing a subcontractor. One client asked me, “Can you please write an article about this so I know what to do?” And thus this article was born.

We hire people to help us grown and run our small business: assistants and virtual assistants, website designers and graphic artists, copywriters, coaches and consultants, and bookkeepers. But what do you do when their work isn’t up to par or they are constantly missing their deadlines?

These issues can lead to other problems, so even if they seem small they can blow up on you in the future. Your reputation relies on the quality of the work you do and all the people who you hire need to have the same level of excellence. If you demand it of yourself, demand it of your subcontractors.

Read full article.

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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Is Your Important Business Data Safe?

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A few years ago we had a burglary in our office. Among the items they stole were two laptops.

But our data — especially our confidential client information — was safe. Here’s how:

  • We don’t keep client credit card information on our computers or in paper anywhere in the office. It’s all kept online in our shopping cart, and it’s only kept online for 30 days. Then it’s cleared out of the cart.
  • We keep all client files in a locked drawer or fire-proof safe.
  • We burn or shred all client information from inactive clients.
  • We don’t keep notes about the client in the computer. Instead, we take all notes manually and keep them locked away with the client files.
  • We back up our computers daily to an offsite backup. We use Mozy.com  and iDrive, which automatically uploads any new or updated files each night.

There are three things you need to protect against: loss of data because a hard drive fails, loss of data because of theft, and loss of data because of fire or flood. Most people backup their data to an external hard drive or CD. That will protect you if your hard drive fails, but it won’t protect you if your computer gets stolen or burns up in a fire.

We’ve learned some important lessons about office data security through this experience, and now that the dust has settled, we’re sure we won’t ever lose our digital data and we’ll keep our client files secure!

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

The REAL Reason Santa is so Jolly – He’s Self-Employed!

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Believers and non-believers alike know that Santa Claus is a happy person. For that matter, so are Mrs. Claus and all the elves (even the ones who want to be dentists). In a world of trouble and strife, why are these folks so jolly?

The simple answer is that Santa is happy because he is self-employed. He’s doing what he loves to do and he has the freedom to create the business and life of his dreams. While running a family business can be complicated, with Mrs. Claus by his side, they deliver a perfect product to a cheering clientele.

Imagine that you owned a business where you had to deliver your product or service only one night a year to an audience eagerly awaiting your arrival. The other 364 days a year are spent in product development and listening to your customers. If that doesn’t make you jolly, what will?

But that’s not all. Each year, Santa’s audience of little children (and some not-so-little ones, like me) write letters to him, telling him exactly what they want. Getting your customers to be that specific — and to get them to put it in writing — certainly reduces the need for market research.

Marketing is easy. Word-of-mouth referrals blossom among the children who love him, and social media and the Internet only makes it easier to spread the word. He doesn’t use Facebook and Twitter to send out endless “buy my products” posts. Instead, he uses them to create relationships and to listen. Santa is GREAT at listening.

And how does Santa get paid? With love, cookies and milk, which are in constant and unending supply. He has no doubts about abundance or whether his clients will pay on time.

It shouldn’t surprise you that Santa has intricate and extensive leadership skills. He doesn’t make toys himself; he gets the elves to do it for him. He instills in them the passion, meaning and purpose of the corporate mission, and they eagerly make toys all year long, happy and singing. There are no recorded instances of elf employment protests. Santa knows how to respect and motivate the craftspeople who work for him. He puts the “elf” in self-employment.

But Santa doesn’t sit on his laurels (because, in fact, it hurts to sit on laurel shrubs). Every year his strategic team comes up with new products and services sure to delight his audience. Notice I said, “team.” Santa can’t do it alone and he recognizes the need to surround himself with those who are smarter than he is in their specialty field. I think it was Santa who first said, “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

To all of you who own your own business, and to those who dream of one day being your own boss, I wish you the brightest of holiday seasons. We can all learn a thing or two from Santa Boss, can’t we?

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

9 Must-Have Items to Put in Your Welcome Email

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Think of a new customer or a new person to your email list as a guest in your home. How will you make them feel welcomed and appreciated?

Your first email to them, your “Welcome” email, can begin that relationship, and turn a one-way conversation into a conversation that goes both ways between your business and your customer. Make it count.

Over the past several years, people have become accustomed to building personal relationships with a business via email. They reject companies and service providers where they don’t feel they’re being honored.

Send the first email out automatically, within a few minutes after a person subscribes and opts-in to your email list. It can be one email, or a series of emails, triggered by a person joining your list.

What a Welcome Email will do for you

A well-crafted welcome email – whether it’s confirming a person’s subscription or offering immediate access to your content – can build trust and a rapport with your audience. It sets the tone of future communication, starts a conversation, helps reinforce your brand and message and acknowledges how important they are to you.

Consider it your calling card; it’s your one opportunity to knock their socks off with meaningful content that solves their problems or answers their questions. You want them to open future emails from you.

Be warm, professional, helpful – and human.

Some tips on what you should put in your first email

  • Welcome them to your community. Remind them how they got on your list – did they sign up for a free offer, did they make a purchase from your online store, or did they hear you speak or teach somewhere?
  • Thank them. Acknowledge that you’re grateful they chose your content, or for their purchase.
  • Talk to them about what they’ve signed up for. What kind of content can they expect? If they bought something from you, let them know how to access that item or when they can expect to get it.
  • Give them more than they expected. Offer links to important and helpful content on your website, or links to audio files, documents or webinar and video content.
  • Tell them how often they can expect your emails. You should be sending email newsletters at least once a month, but once a week is better. Whatever you choose, be consistent.
  • Provide them with links to your social media accounts as another way to connect.
  • Answer frequently asked questions. Are there questions that pop up all the time which a list of FAQs could answer quickly?
  • Continue the conversation. If you promised something in return for their signing up, make sure they got it. Follow up with a survey asking them wha they think about your product or service. Remember: Even if it’s free, they’re still a customer. They’re consuming your content.
  • Tell them how to unsubscribe. It’s important that you give clear instructions on how to get off your list.

Doubling down with a double opt-in

Sometimes asking people to confirm their email address – known as a “double opt-in” – will be your first electronic correspondence with a customer. By asking people to double opt-in, you’re ensuring a quality list of real email addresses. The double opt-in is meant to get people to click on a link to confirm their email address. Some people don’t do this right away – or they don’t do this at all – so you might have to send a reminder. You can also check the list of people who signed up but didn’t confirm their subscription to check for obvious misspellings in their email addresses.

I’d love to hear from you

Are you sending out Welcome emails? Do you add anything to them aside from the 9 items listed above? Do you send them automatically or manually? Share your story, comments and questions in the Comments area below. 🙂

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business

What Really Happens in a Mastermind Group Meeting? Come, Peek Inside One

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Are you curious about what happens inside a real mastermind group meeting? It’s not a secret anymore! Come, peek inside one…

Join me for a Taste of a Mastermind Group – Arena Style.

In this one-hour mastermind group session, three people are on the “Hot Seat,” bringing their challenges, questions and idea needs to the group.

And you’ll be able to sit in the arena and watch the mastermind group meeting in action through your web browser. Watch the meeting via video conference on your computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone. (If you won’t be near your computer, you can dial-in on your phone to listen.)

This particular mastermind group session is about running and growing a business, so it is extra helpful to those of you who are self-employed small business owners. (Personal and professional development mastermind groups are run the same way, so this is a great chance to peek inside a group meeting and see the inner workings.)

This will be an All-Content-No-Selling video conference.

If you’re sick to death of “free events” which masquerade as a sales pitch, you’ve come to the right place! You can be assured that our focus will be solely on the Hot Seats and watching a mastermind group in action.

Join me on Tuesday, December 6 at 3:00 p.m. eastern/12:00 p.m. pacific

Come and see behind-the-curtain into a real mastermind group meeting! Experience the power of mastermind groups for yourself by attending this free mastermind group session.

Yes, the meeting will be recorded.

If you can’t attend live, register anyway, and I’ll send you a link to the recording of the meeting.

Click here to sign up

You’re going to love it!

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Passion For Business News, Running a Strong & Efficient Business, Start and Run a Mastermind Group

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