I’ve written a lot about pricing in my book Psychology in Marketing and Sales, as well as in previous blog posts and I’m often surprised when I hear small business owners (especially startups) ask how they can possibly charge for something when other people are offering similar services for free.
A recent example of this is when a customer of mine pointed out that his competitor is charging £25 for a webinar. “How can they do that”, I was asked, “when everyone is currently doing similar webinars for free?”... and from what we could see, the competitor is successfully selling these webinars.
The reason for the success comes down to what I like to refer to as the ‘Offer’ - the way that the product or service is positioned including the key message, the benefits and who is being targeted.
As well as the way the offer is positioned, the price itself can have a big impact on perception. Without knowing anything about jewellery, for example, a customer might assume that the higher-priced necklace or earring is better quality. The webinar or training course that has a higher price tag could be assumed to provide more valuable content.
The purpose of this blog post isn’t to give you specific actions or strategies for your business when it comes to product positioning and pricing. The aim is to provide you with content to reflect on, and to help you think about how you can position your products better - and that’s why I’d like to share the following examples I came across recently (by the way, if you would like to have a review of your pricing strategy or how you position your offer then I provide a 90-minute one on one session that could make a huge difference to your business. Click here to find out more).
The apple story
I have come across this from multiple sources, and while I don’t know if it’s a true story, it’s still great to read…
An old man was selling apples. His price list reads:
1 apple = $3.00
3 apples = $10.00
A young man stopped and bought 3 apples individually - paying $3 for each.
As the young man was walking away he turned and said “Hey old man, do you realise I just bought 3 apples for $9, instead of $10? Maybe business is not your thing?”
The old man smiled and mumbled to himself “people are funny. Every time they buy 3 apples instead of 1, yet they keep trying to teach me how to do business.”
Comparing Apple, not apples
On the subject of apples, The iPhone (ok so a different type of Apple!) has been very successful over the years with a much higher price than many of its competitors.
We could get into an in-depth comparison on how good the iPhone has been over the years compared to other phones but, despite some phones being arguably better, having more features and being cheaper, they have not sold as well as the iPhone.
Why? Because Apple products have strong desirability. The brand has been built up over the years and the ‘Offer’ has been created and positioned in a way to make the iPhone a MUST HAVE product.
What’s your OFFER?
When it comes to selling and marketing your products and services, it’s not just about the price, or about the features. It’s about many elements that need to come together as a complete package. Success depends on creating the right offer and then communicating it effectively to the right audience.
The right offer consists of having the right product, with the right features and benefits at the right price, and that also needs to be communicated to the right target audience. That’s a lot of ‘rights’ but you get the idea.
If you need help with positioning your offer correctly and making it a success, let’s have a chat to see how I can help. Get in touch today.
How important is brand image when it comes to customers buying from you?
A few months ago I was out for a walk with my son and we passed a For Sale sign for a property, and the contact details at the bottom of the sign included an email address that was Hotmail (such as firstname.lastname@example.org). My teenage son called out jokingly “at hotmail, I’m not buying that!’ - which got me thinking about the importance of professional branding (the fact a teenager is suggesting he’s interested in buying a house didn’t bother me, knowing that anything on the market is clearly out of his budget in the short-term!).
For many years, I’ve always argued that businesses serious about growth need to look professional, and seeing signage or wording on vans (such as for electricians or plumbers) that have a gmail or hotmail email included is likely to put doubt in the mind of the buyer. If you don’t know the two electricians, would you rather buy from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org?*
But I would argue the importance for having a professional brand, right? Afterall, I’m in marketing and brand reputation, and building credibility and trust with customers is something at the front of my mind on a regular basis. But in this scenario, it wasnt me. It was a teenager with little knowledge about marketing concepts and who has no experience of buying high priced items such as cars or a property who clearly pointing out that the lack of professional branding in the contact details could be a reason not to buy.
Potential customers seek credibility
When a potential customer looks to buy from a business, they want you to show credibility that you are a trustworthy brand. If there is any doubt about your credibility then they will look at buying elsewhere, and not from you.
Think of it like a job interview. When recruiting, a business might receive a stack of CVs to find their ideal candidate. They can’t interview everyone and if they all look good then there’s a dilemna, so what to do?
An easier option, which is usually deployed, is to find a reason to discount a candidate with reasons such as ‘there are a couple of spelling mistakes, do we really want that lack of attention to detail in that role?’.
Finding reasons not to hire or interview is as powerful as finding a reason to hire someone, and when it comes to brand reputation the same applies. The copywriter that sends you a badly worded proposal, or the accountant that messes up the figures in their quote they send to you, are sure to reduce the chances of getting the business. Of course there are many other factors that come into the decision making process but building trust and credibility is a major reason for someone to buy.
Attention to detail
Often it doesn’t take much effort to re-check wording on your website or in proposals to make sure that there aren’t any obvious mistakes, and having a professional email address or company logo doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to implement. In fact, the cost of having a registered domain that looks professional should be compared to the cost of losing business from potential customers who decide to go with your competitors!
In the example above, an estate agent makes thousands of pounds on the sale of a single property. The cost of registering a domain and setting up an email address with that new more professional domain can be as little as £20-80 a year (in fact, you can use Zoho mail which is free and the total cost can be even lower).
Is your brand up to scratch?
If you are worried that your brand isn’t providing the professional image that you need to win business then get in touch for a free marketing review. We would be happy to provide you with some top tips and suggestions. Call us today to find out more.
*These email addresses are made up. I also mean no disrepspect to hotmail and gmail accounts. On a personal level, they are great to use.
This blog post is part of a series about making 'cracking presentations' by Paul Sampson. You can read the first article here: So, how good are you at presentations?
Let’s face it, Presentations are all about selling ideas.
I often hear people saying, ‘But, I’m not a sales person!’. Well, you are now! Presentations are meant to sell a concept or viewpoint, to enlighten and inform. You want everyone in the room to agree with you or to argue a point. That is healthy. If they disagree, you want them to challenge you. Whatever else happens, they cannot leave the room confused, doubting you or your material.
So, with preparation of your material – decide on the end goal first. What should your audience walk away with?
One way (and later, we’ll talk about others) is to think about your delivery. Learning to be an actor includes all kinds of techniques from mannerisms, to diction, accents, characterisation, body language and delivery but this may interest you – it’s called TTAIC.
Acting is selling. Selling your character and your story.
TTAIC is taking the audience into your confidence. Everyone in the room must be with you. Just one cynical, dissenting voice after the presentation can demean or even kill your argument. Each person in the room counts. No matter their seniority. You must have everyone on side.
More later ….
“Cracking Presentations” through Think Twice Marketing is a whole-day classroom-based course. It will equip you and your team to make presentations effective and your time efficient.
Many marketers would be astounded that I have even asked the question. In today’s modern world and circumstances, how can anyone not have a website? Surely a business can’t survive without a website to attract, inform and convert people into paying customers?
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I continued to come across businesses who didn’t have a website - yet they had been in business for a number of years, rather than weeks. These businesses had survived on other tools and techniques. The independent cafe that attracted customers through Google Search (using Google My Business), a Facebook page and word of mouth, the coach that built his reputation from a heavy investment in networking and referrals and the construction company that partnered with key suppliers who would ‘throw work their way’ on a regular basis and they did very little marketing at all.
Survive or thrive?
From the above examples, it’s possible to run a business without a website (Shock! Horror! Really?). These companies are clearly the exception and the number of business that can do this over the long-term has to be dropping*. While some businesses without a website have been able to continue to thrive and grow, I believe that most are simply surviving. Without factoring in COVID-19, If you asked them how business is going, they would respond “it’s ok. Not brilliant but you know. We are still going and earning enough”.
“If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten” - unknown
… or maybe not?
If a business is happy surviving and has no ambition to grow or take their business ‘to the next level’ then it might be possible to survive by doing very little marketing or without a website, but this is a very risky strategy (or should I say a very risk not-a-strategy?). As much as I love the above quote, there’s an equally powerful quote for businesses that I like:
"If you don't drive your business, you will be driven out of business" - Forbes
Standing still on activities could actually mean going backwards. Not doing marketing activities or not having a website doesn’t mean your business will continue to generate business at its current level. It means you could lose business, sales will most likely decline and survival is less likely. I remember meeting a business owner, who provided trade services, at a networking event a few years ago. He said that, after around 10 years in business, he was networking for the first time and having to look at his marketing. They had relied for many years on word of mouth, but business was, in his words ‘beginning to dry up’.
The benefits of a website
We won’t go through all of the benefits of a website here, but having a website means you can be found by more potential customers through channels such as Google Search. Potential customers are more likely to trust your brand and therefore use your services, and you can also create more marketing activities that generate a higher conversion rate. Examples of the latter include a simple landing page with a special offer or using Facebook Pixel code to drive down costs and better target your audience when running an Ad.
You probably knew the answer to this already but, if you are serious about staying in business or growing it, then a website should be at the heart of any sales and marketing activity. Yes, people buy from people and referrals are a powerful form of marketing, but this has its limits - especially over the long term.
If you are still in ANY doubt then do a quick calculation - how many customers do I need to generate to pay for a new or an updated site? For many businesses, an effective website will help attract a much larger number of paying customers. It’s almost, if not completely, a no-brainer.
If you would like to find out more about effective websites and pricing, visit the Think Twice Marketing web services landing page.
*No, I don’t have stats on this but I’m guessing it’s a pretty good gut feeling I have.
I have just finished reading ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck’ by Mark Manson (which if you would like an alternative perspective on life, I recommend reading). In the book, Mark talks about the Picasso napkin story which was new to me. If you haven’t heard it, the story goes something like this…
Picasso used to draw or doodle on his napkins when at a cafe and one day, he was asked by a woman if she could have the napkin to keep. She offered to pay whatever the napkin with his drawing was worth, to which Picasso responded that it would be $10,000.
Slightly taken aback by the high valuation, the woman pointed out that it had only taken 30 seconds to create the artwork. Picasso promptly folded the napkin away into his pocket and responded ‘no, it has taken me 40 years to do that’.
Depending on what website you visit the story varies slightly, and whether it was dollars, pounds or another currency, it was a considerable amount of money. There is, however, a good argument for not basing the price on how long the drawing took.
When it comes to selling your services, do you quote an hourly rate depending on how long it takes to do a task? Do you price your products on the value to the customer? Or how many years of experience it has taken to learn the skills you have acquired so that you can deliver what you do… and so quickly?
When talking to customers, and in my book Psychology in Marketing and Sales, I discuss different ways to price products to get the right results. A web designer, for example, might be able to create a website in one day and charge a daily rate - but if the customer does it themself, it might take days or even weeks. Added to this, a DIY website might not look as good, It might not function as well and it will most likely not convert web visitors into paying customers as effectively (resulting in lost sales in the long term).
Similarly, a training instructor, coach, consultant or security business (just to name a few specialities!) can make a huge difference to anyone’s life or business, but only because of the skills they have developed over the years. And the prices they charge should reflect this.
It’s true that you need to consider other factors when setting pricing such as what the competition is doing, how much competition there is and who your target audience is, but creating pricing based on ‘cost plus margin’ or an hourly rate could mean you are losing out considerable amounts of money.
Sometimes it can take years of practice and experience in order to be able to continually create masterpieces in a very short time. That experience has a value. What’s your napkin worth, and what are you charging for it?
The number three is a magical number which if used properly in your marketing, can help get better results. I was trailing through my archived emails the other day when I came across an email talking about how remembering numbers is easiest when they are grouped into sets of three, and it got me thinking. How can this apply to marketing and sales?
Using the concept of grouping things into 3 means that you can do the following:
The way that the power of three works is simple (I could say I will explain it in 3 simple steps but on this occasion, I won’t). On its own, a single number, price or product seems ‘lonely’. It’s not comprehensive and there’s nothing to compare. The human mind can absorb a lot more information than that so lets at least double it…
Two is good, but it could be better. If I ask you to remember a set of numbers, let’s say 702393, you could remember them individually as six separate numbers. You could remember them in groups of two, such as 70, 23, 93 or in groups of three such as 702, 393. You are more likely to remember them - and longer groups of numbers, in groups of three.
In his book, How to Write Short, author Roy Peter Clark talks about how using the rule of 3 can be more entertaining and satisfying as well as being more effective.
Before we apply this to marketing, let’s consider some real-world examples of how three is being used:
Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, was involved in using a simple 3 worded slogan during the EU referendum campaign that was simple and easy to understand: Take Back Control. He then became Prime Minister and won a general election with the three worded slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’ which almost seemed like his answer to everything… but it worked. In 2020 during the COVID-19 outbreak, he also made the message clear ‘stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’. Ok, so the first and last part are only 2 words, but the slogan is split into 3 sections that are easy to understand, memorable and made sense. Staying at home helped protect the NHS and helps to save lives.
The power of 3 can be covering 3 words in a slogan or three individual concepts.
Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights activist, often used the power of 3 with lines such as “insult, injustice and exploitation” in one of his speeches* followed by “justice, goodwill, and brotherhood.”. Listing 5, 6 or even 10 things would have been harder to remember and would have diluted the message. Listing three things also makes the presenter seem more knowledgeable.
Julius Caesar said “I came, I saw, I conquered”, Winston Churchill once said “Blood, sweat and tears” while the American Declaration of Independence says “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
The power of three is not new, but it’s often forgotten when trying to make marketing more effective.
Using it in your marketing
In my book, Psychology in Marketing and Sales, I talk about Decoy Pricing which involves offering a third pricing option. This third option increases sales conversions and also results in customers opting for higher-priced products or services. This works for various reasons, one of which is that it takes the mind away from comparing lower-priced products, or not buying at all.
In your marketing communication you can also use the power of 3 as follows:
Here are some examples to consider:
An accountant might highlight they offer ways to save on tax, avoid fines and grow your business as the main benefits.
A web designer might increase the value of a service by offering a 3 in 1 package: web design, blogging and social media for one single price.
A software company might communicate that their product can be set up in 3, easy to follow steps.
A fashion designer might use a slogan such as ‘look great, feel amazing, be different’
Whether you use 3 or another number in your marketing, it’s important to keep messages simple and easy to understand - while making your product attractive. If you would like help defining your marketing messaging and communicating to your customers then get in touch today.
*His speech “Non-Violence and Racial Justice”
I’m sure you’ve been to many presentations/meetings where you get to the end and think you’ve wasted an hour or more of your life. If it’s been a whole morning, it can be even more exasperating. Your time is valuable. Work must be done or you’re running late. But you’ve just wasted 10% of your working week.
So, when it’s your turn, you get the nod saying ‘please present X to 2-20 people,’ how do you react? In most cases you realise that it’s quite a responsibility. Others freak at the thought and have sleepless nights and palpitations.
However, it is fair to say, that when you get it right, it can do your career a lot of good. That’s what ‘Cracking Presentations’ does for you. It makes you good at this art.
I cannot condense a whole day’s course material into a few hundred words so for now, let’s just look at the first stage – Preparation.
For a start, 80% of the success of a presentation hinges on your preparation. Sadly, many go off on their pet subject like an avid train spotter, but this is all about confidently showing others a smart piece of work so that they understand and agree with your proposition.
I often hear people saying, ‘But, I’m not a sales person!’ Well, you are now! Presentations are meant to sell a concept or viewpoint. You want everyone on the room to agree with you or argue a point. Then the essential points that should be implemented. It may be only to bring people up to speed. Whatever else happens, they cannot leave the room confused, doubting you or your material.
So, with preparation of your material – decide on the end goal first. What should your audience walk away with?
There will always be cynics (‘I don’t really need to be here/ I’m too busy.’ ‘Let’s get this over with.’) That is why you have to overcome any objections or reticence, so bring people onside.
You only get one chance to make a first impression, so decide on what that should be. Hook people from the introductory 30 seconds and you’ve got a chance!
Seth Godin in his clever book, Tribes says:
People don’t believe what you tell them.
They rarely believe what you show them.
They often believe what their friends tell them,
but they always believe what they tell themselves.
What leaders do is tell stories they can tell themselves,
stories about the future and about change.
Seth Godin, Tribes
Your presentation should change people, their opinions, so enlighten and inform.
Look out for future blog on the subject. This material will change you.
“Cracking Presentations” through Think Twice Marketing is a whole-day classroom-based course. It will equip you and your team to make presentations effective and your time efficient.
The instant response from marketers (including anyone focused on video marketing) to this question would be a resounding ‘yes!’ followed by ‘why wouldn’t you use video in your marketing?’ - but there are various factors to consider before jumping in to use video marketing with both feet. First of all, let’s consider some of the benefits of using video in marketing:
There have been various sources showing how much higher engagement and conversion rates are when using video and while the numbers vary, they are still big.
In 2017, Wordstream reported (amongst other data) that:
51% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI
Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users.
Sixty-four per cent of consumers make a purchase after watching branded social videos
Video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80% or more
According to Optinmonster (2019), 'video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year'
We aren’t going to cover the benefits listed above in detail here but it’s sufficient to say that using video marketing is a MUST for many businesses.
The main issue with video marketing is the time it takes to create good quality, relevant videos (and if you are outsourcing to an agency then time is money!). Writing content, whilst not as effective as video, takes very little time to do and while using images on your website, in email campaigns and on social media may take longer than simple text, it’s still a lot quicker than creating videos and can still be effective.
The issue with time and effort spent creating videos depends on how many videos you use in your marketing. If you are posting on social media everyday then you can easily find yourself running out of time creating videos to get more attention rather than doing other things in your business. Instead of making all content into video, you might find that creating occasional videos for social media posts, having a single video on key landing pages and videos for well thought out marketing ads campaigns is a better way to manage your budget and time.
Another concern when it comes to video marketing is knowing what sort of video you want and how the script will go. There are various types of videos ranging from animation (dynamic illustrations or explainer videos) to testimonial, advertorial and even storyboard style videos that are more simplistic and consist of a combination of images, moving words and sound to create a video (according to uscreen there are 15 different types of video that you should be aware of). Video marketing can make marketing a lot more complicated if you don’t have the knowledge and experience to succeed.
Things are getting better!
The good news is that video-making apps are becoming easier to use, more powerful and can help you create videos quicker than ever before (and although some have free versions, great features at an extra cost). There is also a growing number of skilled video marketers who can help create the perfect videos for your marketing.
It still remains time-consuming to create videos but selectively investing time and money in video marketing is the right way to grow your business.
At Think Twice Marketing, we offer solutions such as explainer videos and converting blog posts into videos (just like the one below) that can be posted on social media and on YouTube.
If you would like to find out more about how to use video marketing then get in touch.
In my book ‘Psychology in Marketing and Sales’, I talk about the power of fear and how it can be used to generate sales - but before we answer the question as to whether you should sell based on fear, let's first understand what we mean by the word fear itself.
Fear probably sounds worse than it is and we aren't talking about scare tactics, threats or anything unethical (sorry horror movie fans - this isn't’ for you!). Fear is about demonstrating what somebody might be missing or losing out on if they don't have your product or service. An example of this could be how you can avoid becoming unhealthy or ill by buying a fantastic range of branded healthy foods.
This contrasts to selling products based on the positive benefits. Using the last example you could promote the brand of health foods by saying ‘get fit, be healthy and have a great active life’ by buying this great brand of healthy foods.
When it comes to promoting the benefits of your product or service, selling based on fear has been proven to be more successful but if it isn't done correctly then it could backfire and damage a brand reputation or least be seen as being too negative.
Here are some examples of effective positive and fear-based messages for different types of businesses. How do you feel when you read the two versions? Do the different statements impact the way you feel differently?
Enjoy a happy retirement by investing in a pension now
Don’t lose out on a happy retirement with limited money to live on, invest in a pension now
Protect your PC from viruses with antivirus software
Avoid losing data and precious time recovering your PC with antivirus software
Beat the queues with fast-pass
Make sure you don’t waste hours queuing up. Grab your fast-pass now
There are benefits to using both styles and a mixture of both is usually the best option.
Selling based on fear is used more widely than you might think, from the shortage of seats left when booking a flight (only 2 seats left, don’t miss out!) to pensions, investments and car breakdown cover (don’t get stranded on your own with your car broken down…) to the range of every day offers you see telling you that if you don’t take advantage of the offer in the next 2 hours then you will miss out.
In fact, there has even become a widely used term we now use to describe one of our biggest fears - FOMO (fear of missing out).
The next time you work on your marketing, consider how you can develop your messaging and the benefits by pointing out both what’s great about what you offer AND what your potential customer could be missing out on.
If you would like to learn more about how to promote your products and services based on the way the human mind works then why not grab a copy of my very affordable book Psychology in Marketing and Sales - but be quick, it’s so good I might have to put the price up soon! 😃
Want a recap? The video below is a summary of this blog post. Don't forget to subscribe to our channel on YouTube for more videos!
When it comes to online advertising, it doesn't get any bigger than the two tech giants Google and Facebook. But which one is best for advertising your business?
The aim of this blog post is to discuss the pros and cons of using Facebook Ads and Google Ads (previously Google Adwords). We won't be discussing the in-depth details of the various ways you can advertise on the two platforms.
While both platforms allow you to advertise on third party websites as sponsored ads, Google stands out in one important way - Google search. Adverts created with Facebook that appear on Facebook, Instagram and other sites can be considered to some extent as 'speculative'. Yes, you can define your target audience. A seller of training equipment for playing hockey might be able to target people such as 'anyone who lives within 25 miles of New York, has an interest in hockey and is aged 25-44' but that doesn't mean that person who sees the advert is interested in, or wants to buy what's on offer. They might not play hockey and only have an interest in watching it.
With Google, you appear when people are actively searching for what you sell. Using the above example, a person who wants to buy a hockey stick has already made a conscious decision to find out more about the various types or is ready to buy. They are already further into the decision making sales process and are likely to search specifically for 'hockey sticks' or 'buy hockey stick'.
This means you are appearing to people who are genuinely interested and are closer to buying. With Facebook you might need to reach out to more people to generate sales. That doesn't mean Facebook isn't worth considering.
Facebook has many advantages. It tends to be lower cost pay per click, it has access to an audience that's in the billions and there's the opportunity to educate people who may don't think they need your product... but they do.
Facebook, like Google, also allows you to do re-targeting so that your ad will appear when you have visited a similar website. If you had to decide which platform to use then it will depend on your budget, objectives and industry you are in. You may, for example, have the objective to raise awareness of your new product during a product launch and decide that Facebook is best for that. Facebook is also great for short-term promotions, allowing you to reach a lot of people in a short period of time.
Personally, I prefer Google but that doesn't mean it will always be the right solution for your business. Consider your objectives and what you want to achieve before making a decision. You may want to use both platforms to be more effective.
If you need help with online advertising, contact Think Twice Marketing.
The opinions in these blog posts are those of marketing professional and book author Darren Hignett.