Let them set your prices

December 12, 2006

Price_tag What if you did just that?  You let your customers determine your value.  Do you think it would work?  Would they pay you more than what you’d set as a fee or would you constantly be undercut?

What do you suppose this pricing strategy would say to your clients?  Is it a message you want to send?

One of my resolutions for ’07 is to try this with at least one client.  I’ll let you know how it works.

Want to read some more interesting thinking about pricing.  Check out Mike McLaughlin‘s Guerrilla Consulting’s pricing section.

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Make ’em wait to see your turtle

December 9, 2006

Turtle I’m in Kansas City tonight because I am facilitating a board of directors retreat (for Variety the Children’s Charity) tomorrow.  So…I’m sitting down in the hotel bar people watching and eavesdropping while I wait for a business colleague.  (I know it’s rude but it’s one of my many flaws!)  Two twenty-something women are at the bar, talking loudly. 

Clearly the first twenty-something has brought her new boyfriend (he’s stepped away for a moment) to the bar to meet her friend.  As soon as he walks away, she declares (quite loudly, in my defense) "He finally let me meet his turtle.  I’ve been waiting for weeks!"  (Admit it, you would have perked up at hearing that too!)  Her friend responds enthusiastically about the meeting.  Eventually, they discuss how cool it is that he has an exotic pet, etc. etc.

(Stay with me, there’s a marketing message in here somewhere.)

Her boyfriend, whether he knows it or not, has the makings of a marketing genius.  He understands the power of anticipation.  All too often, marketers work so hard to get a prospect’s attention that when they do get it — they panic and data dump.  It might be the only time they get to share the information, so they’d better tell the prospect everything.  Right?

Wrong.  That’s why we see ads that have no white space and your eyes surrender before they get past the first sentence.  It’s why we have brochures packed with text and no visuals.  And why some web sites are so difficult to navigate.  Too much, too soon.

If you try to tell them everything all at once, first you probably have a terrible execution.  But even deeper than that — if you tell them everything, why do they need to contact you to learn more?  You are telling a story.  Take advantage of the power of anticipation and curiosity.  Let them build a little.

Repeat after me…make ’em wait to see your turtle.

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Use your powers for good

December 8, 2006

I truly believe as marketers, we can and should look for ways to use our powers for good.  Not unlike superheroes, really.  (I vote minus the cape and tights!)

Soldier_2 There’s no reason why you can’t showcase your skills, products and services while also making the world just a little bit better.  Want proof?  Check out this promotion from Xerox.

If you go to this web site (http://www.letssaythanks.com) you can pick out a postcard and Xerox will print it and it will be  sent to a soldier who is currently serving in Iraq. You can’t pick out who gets it, but it will go to some member of the Armed Services.

You pick the graphic and either one of their pre-written messages or you can write you own.  I just sent one and I think it took me about 3 minutes.  But I am going to feel good about it…and the company that created the opportunity for a lot longer than that.

Regardless of where you sit politically, this is a cool thing.    Bravo Xerox — you’d look good in a cape!

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Too Little Too Late?

December 6, 2006

As Barenaked Ladies sing…"or is it too little, too late?"

I’ve been thinking about the tradition of giving clients a holiday gift.  Probably because we’re putting on the finishing touches on ours…and the gifts to us are beginning to arrive. 

Gift In late October, we talked about how to choose a gift that isn’t the same old, same old.  But here’s what I am wondering today:

Does the fact that most everyone does a holiday gift diminish the impact of the "thank you?"  Before you give me the PC answer — think about it.  Would you notice and register a gift that is given to you on a day when everyone gives you a gift as much as a gift that is given just out of the blue, on an ordinary day?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t thank clients.  Or thank them now.  I’m just wondering if there is significance to the timing of the gift and the fact that during the holiday season, we’re just one of many.

And…and here’s perhaps the most significant aspect of my musing…we probably don’t do a good job of saying thank you any other time of the year.   So does that make the holiday thank you seem more obligatory and less genuine and spontaneous?

I’d love to hear what you think.

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2006: A marketing perspective

December 5, 2006

On November 28th, I wrote about a project that David Armano posed at his Logic + Emotion blog.

In short, he asked what was the most significant "something" of 2006, from a marketing perspective.  I encouraged you to drop by and share your thoughts.  Whether you did or not, try to make time to check out the post and comments now.  Lots of insightful comments  there and well worth the read. 

As he promised he would, David culled through the many perspectives and selected some to create a visual in slide show or PDF formats.  This is something you’re going to not only want to see, but to share.  Go grab it today and start a conversation. I’m honored that David used some of my thoughts on pages 5 & 7.

After you have a chance to read through it…here’s what I am wondering.  Obviously, since he asked the question on his blog, all the answers are from people who either blog or follow them.  These are, I think its safe to assume, people who are pretty up on the new media exploding in our world.  How do you think the answers would have differed if he had asked the question in a more traditional venue?

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Knock down the barriers (Marketing Lessons from Walt)

December 2, 2006

This is the last in my eight-day series – Marketing Lessons from Walt.  As my family and I enjoy Walt Disney World, I’m going to capture some of the marketing genius that I believe began with Walt’s passion and has now grown into one of the world’s most powerful brands.

On the road to every sale there are barriers.  It might be price, or timing or who knows what.  A smart marketer removes as many of the barriers as they can anticipate.   Disney is a master at this.  Throughout their theme parks, there are shops.  Lots and lots of shops.  You can buy anything from t-shirts to works of art and just about everything in between.  Hauling those packages around with you all day is a pain.  And could deter many a purchase.  But never fear…Disney has lots of options.20061201compliment

  • You can have the packages delivered right to your Disney resort
  • You can have the packages shipped home
  • You can have your packages sent to the front of the park and pick up your treasures on the way out
  • You can rent a locker and put your packages there
  • You can take one of the business cards, jot down the item number and call later to order it

What barriers keep your customers from buying?  What have you done to remove them?  Do your customers know?

Marketing Lessons from Walt – The Series:

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Dance with the one that brought you (Marketing Lessons from Walt)

December 1, 2006

This is the seventh in my eight-day series – Marketing Lessons from Walt.  As my family and I enjoy Walt Disney World, I’m going to capture some of the marketing genius that I believe began with Walt’s passion and has now grown into one of the world’s most powerful brands.

Most organizations expend 95% of their marketing efforts chasing after potential business.  Once a client is in the door, it’s onto the next.  Chalk up the win and go after the next big fish in the pond, right?

Not so fast my friend.  It’s your current clients who keep your doors open.  And are the most likely to give you  new opportunities and sales.  Disney understands while its great to get new faces into their theme parks, they need to reward those most loyal guests as well.  One way they do this is by extending park hours to those guests who are staying in a Disney owned resort.   

20061201hours With a special wrist band, Disney resort guests can enjoy the most popular rides and attractions without long lines.  There’s an air of exclusivity at being able to wave your wrist band and stay to play another few hours.  It sure makes us glad we’re staying where we are.

How do you reward your current clients?  How do you make them feel special and valued?   Are you sure they know about the little extras you give them?  Don’t be so sure.  It may not be a wrist band…but be sure you find a way to reward your good clients and make sure they know they’re appreciated.

Marketing Lessons from Walt – The Series:

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Blogtipping — December ’06

December 1, 2006

Blogtipping_1 I am joining with my fellow bloggers in celebrating some new blogs that I discovered this past month.  As is the blogtipping tradition, (created by Easton Ellsworth) I’ll offer a few reasons why I like the blog and one suggestion for improvement.

The Ripple Effect: Maximum Ripple is Steve Harper’s reminder to us all that our lives are intertwined and we can create the professional and personal lives we hunger for.

Things I love:

  • Your questions and musings make me slow down and think.  Thank you.
  • I respect and appreciate how much of yourself you share in your posts.
  • I think your weekly "features" are a great idea.


  • Add some visuals to break up your copy.

Do You Q? is Mitch Matthews addictive blog of thought-provoking questions.

Things I love:

  • The randomness of the questions — sometimes silly, sometimes profound.
  • Reading your readers’ comments is almost as much fun as answering your questions.
  • Your visuals are right on the money for your questions.


  • Post more often and find a way to link your readers to game sales (a contest maybe or helping a charity?)

Slow Leadership is an inspiring, resource rich study on leadership.

Things I love:

  • Incredible content.  Very current and thought provoking.
  • The quick summary feature.  At a glance, I can tell if the post is something I want to read.
  • There’s lots of meat in every post.  I am not left wanting for more.


  • Include a bio and tell us a little about who you are and what you’re all about.  (If there is such info available on the site, I couldn’t find it.  If it’s there — make it easier to find!)

There you have it discerning readers…until next month’s blogtipping adventure!

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Set Expectations (Marketing Lessons from Walt)

December 1, 2006

This is the sixth in my eight-day series – Marketing Lessons from Walt.  As my family and I enjoy Walt Disney World, I’m going to capture some of the marketing genius that I believe began with Walt’s passion and has now grown into one of the world’s most powerful brands.

Human nature dictates that we are much more comfortable with the known.  While surprises are nice if they’re fun-filled, no one likes a nasty surprise, like a rush charge or an extra long wait for a product or service delivery.  The folks at Disney understand that human truth.  So they set expectations for their guests.

20061130waitjpg At the front of every attraction there is a sign that tells you the current wait time.  (Night photography is not my forte!) You make an informed decision — is Space Mountain worth a 90  minute wait?  Is Big Thunder Mountain enough fun to stand in line for 45 minutes?  Customers don’t mind boundaries or consequences if they know in advance what they are.   I’ll bet it won’t surprise you to learn that if there’s a 20 minute wait posted at a Disney attraction, the real wait time is more like 10-15 minutes.  Set expectations and when possible — exceed them.

Do you set your clients’ expectations?    Billing, delivery times, levels of service, your availability, etc.?    How do you do that?  Conversation?  A New Client handbook?  A contract? 

How you set them is a communications choice.  But setting them is just smart business.

Marketing Lessons from Walt – The Series:

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Listen and Respond (Marketing Lessons from Walt)

November 29, 2006

This is the fifth in my eight-day series – Marketing Lessons from Walt.  As my family and I enjoy Walt Disney World, I’m going to capture some of the marketing genius that I believe began with Walt’s passion and has now grown into one of the world’s most powerful brands.

For many families, a trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World is a once in a lifetime experience.  Kids dream for years before they finally get to step into the Magic Kingdom.  So the expectations are incredibly high.  This can’t just be a fun vacation.  This needs to be the uber vacation. 

One of Disney’s habits that has helped launch and maintain their brand’s success is that they listen and respond to what they hear.  It’s not uncommon to get stopped by a survey taker in one of the theme parks.

Here’s an example.  Kids arrive at Disney World with one goal.  Meet Mickey Mouse.  It’s their core reason for making the journey.  They have dreamed of that moment for years.  It used to be that it was left to chance.  If a child happened to be in a particular spot in the Magic Kingdom, when Mickey was there signing autographs then the child’s dream was fulfilled.  But, if the fates didn’t align, the child was likely to go home having seen Mickey in the parade but never being able to hug or interact with the Big M himself.


Parents shared this insight with Disney officials and Toon Town was created.  A whole new land, where you can tour Mickey and Minnie’s homes and, no matter what else is going on in the park — meet Mickey.  Mickey now waits for his fans, young and old, to come visit him in Toon Town.  Today, no child has to leave their uber vacation without a Mouse encounter.   Cue the happy music.

When was the last time you asked your customers what they wanted or needed from you?  How did you let them know that you heard them?  Never asked?  What’s stopping you?(My dad and daughter enjoy their mouse meeting)

Marketing Lessons from Walt – The Series:

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