What does this pricing strategy say to you?

September 9, 2013

PriceHow thoughtful are you about your company’s pricing strategy? Let me give you an example.

We use an on-line vendor to provide extranet services for our clients.  We’ve been with them for over five years.  We recently discovered a better, cheaper solution.  It wasn’t the cheaper that sold us.  It was the ease of use for our clients.

But cheaper doesn’t hurt.  And this was cheaper by a couple hundred dollars a month.

When I contacted the old vendor to cancel our service, guess what their immediate response was.

“We can match their price.”

What?  So you’ve been overcharging me for years?  Or you magically just had a price reduction to the very dollar amount of my new vendor and you were about to call and tell me about it?

Talk about leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

Dropping your price to keep a customer is never a good strategy.  It can only make you and the client both feel taken advantage of and in the end, no one wins.

Your pricing strategy is one of the key components of your marketing message.  It speaks about things far beyond your cost.  It communicates value, customer attentiveness and how you view the relationship, both short and long term.  It’s not something you should just stumble into.  And it’s not something you should damage by mishandling a situation, like our old vendor did.

There’s an interesting couple articles over at Marketing Tips from the Trenches about how to think through a pricing strategy and how to test it.  Worth a read.


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In marketing the constant is change

May 29, 2013

ChangeSwitchYou know, the annoying thing about clichés is that they’re based in truth, even though that truth may be a bit worn in places. And lately I’ve been very aware of the idiom “the only constant is change” as it relates to business and especially to marketing.

Maybe it’s always been this way and our parents and grandparents had to wrestle with constant change too, but it seems to me that the acceleration curve has gotten incredibly steep over the last 15 or 20 years.

For example, when I started my career, computers were certainly a part of the mix but we never showed a client a computer-generated layout. We’d take mock ups that were drawn in pencil and very rough. Today, we upload PDFs to our extranet and they look practically finished before we’ve even begun.

I get it…I’m the first one to espouse the convenience of our new way of doing business. I love that we can work with clients (and partners) from all over the world – digitally sharing files, ideas and collaborating.

So while I long for the showmanship of the old days, I do appreciate what we have today. But sometimes it also makes me a little tired to think about.

Here’s our reality as business people. It’s never done. No matter how successful your business is – it’s in transition. Every day.

There’s a new technology or a new consumer trend right around every corner. And to stay relevant and profitable, there’s no hiding from them.

Today and tomorrow, I am leading a marketing workshop and one of the things we’ll talk about is mobile and how quickly it became a key element in any marketing strategy. I know what I’ll see. While some of them were anticipating this tsunami of a trend, others were either not ready for it or aren’t looking forward to facing it.

So how do we keep up? How do we stay current and able to anticipate what the next change is going to be so we can get a running start?

Read. Do you know that most business leaders don’t read anything more than their local newspaper? Are you kidding me? Turn off the TV and read a book a month. Find the top ten blogs in your field and subscribe to them. Find the most controversial, far out there publication or blog in your industry an subscribe to that too. It’s better to anticipate too much than get blinded by something.

Attend. Trade show and professional development attendance has been dropping since the recession took a big bite out of everyone’s travel budgets. It’s time to put some money back on that line item. You need to go and listen to experts. You need to hang out with peers and share stories and resources.

Teach. One of the best ways to learn is to commit to teach others. Make sure your entire staff is ready for what’s coming. More important, teach them how to recognize the trends and track them, so you don’t have to be the only one doing it. If you know you have to conduct a class, even if it’s an informal one, you’re much more likely to keep sharp.

There are lots of ways to stay current but it all starts with the attitude of recognizing that it’s a part of your job and it’s one of the ways you keep your company relevant and profitable.

In our world…you either keep up or you quickly become irrelevant.  Don’t be the marketing pro who is still spouting off about the latest and greatest — from 5 years ago.  Find a way to stay current and keep your clients/business there too.

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One Page Business Plan Template

December 3, 2012

Most businesses don’t create a plan for the upcoming year because it’s too daunting a task.  Which is why I’m a big advocate of the one page business plan and why I am sharing our one page business plan template with all of you.

It’s based on a couple of assumptions.  First — no business can tackle dozens of goals in a single year.  It’s better to identify a small handful of goals and build a plan around accomplishing those.

Even if you only set a handful of goals, you can’t tackle them all at once.  You need to prioritize them and then tackle one or two of them at a time.

Second — most business owners and leaders are a little myopic.  They tend to focus on the area of the business that is either causing the most trouble or is the aspect of the business they enjoy the most.  But they rarely give equal weight to all the different facets of the organization.

This one page business plan template takes care of both of these issues.  First — it forces you to only set six goals.  Not five and not 65.  Then, it asks you to rank the goals in order of importance, so you can decide where to focus first.

But you don’t set any six goals.  You set one goal per aspect of your business. The one page business plan forces you to create a well-rounded plan that takes into account:

  • Leadership/Management
  • Staffing
  • Internal Systems
  • Financial
  • New Business
  • Marketing

If you grow all these different aspects of your business together, your business remains stable and strong.  The one page business plan template forces you to think about the organization holistically and allows you to lead its growth in a more balanced way.

Here’s what I like best about this template.  It’s simple enough that you’ll actually do it.  Download it (click here to download the one page business plan template) and get started!


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5 questions to define your 2012 game plan

December 30, 2011

Define your 2012 game plan

Over the past month, I’ve been posing what I hope have been some head scratching, thought provoking questions to help you get ready for 2012.

If you can answer these five questions — I think you’re going to have a solid foundation for your marketing efforts moving forward.

In case you missed one, here are the five questions (with links to the whole post):

  1. What do you really sell?
  2. Who is your ideal customer?
  3. What’s the lifetime value of your customer?
  4. What’s your marketing foundation?
  5. What’s your legacy sentence?

So — have the questions changed your plans or focus?  Narrowed things a bit?  Or were these all a slam dunk?

Happy New Year and here’s to a very prosperous, joyful 2012 to you and yours!

Stock photo courtesy of www.BigStockPhoto.com

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Need some one-on-one direction?

April 19, 2011

An Eight Week Jumpstart To Exploding Your Business

Note: In almost five years of blogging, I’ve never done anything like this before.  And I probably won’t do it again for quite awhile after today.  But I keep getting requests and thought this was the best way to serve the need.

……. Is this your opportunity?

Every single week I get dozens of emails from people asking questions about marketing, building their brand and motivating their employees.

I would love to answer them all.  But, that’s all I’d do every day.

So in broad terms, I try to answer some of them on the blog – thinking others may be wondering the same thing.  No, I can’t get specific about someone’s business or precise problem, but it feels like I am helping a little.

As you know, I have a day job – running my agency, traveling to speaking gigs and spending time with my daughter before she heads off to college in August.

Those priorities don’t leave much time to answer all the questions I get via email.  Which is frustrating because I don’t want to say no when someone asks for help. And I love watching that light bulb go on in someone’s eyes.  It’s awesome to be a small part of helping grow someone’s business.

So I’ve got an experiment I’m calling Direction… from Drew.

I want to spend eight weeks intensely mentoring, coaching and consulting with three people who need direction and advice in their business.

These three people will get complete access to me and I’ll support you in every way possible.  We’ll spend time setting goals for your business and working backwards to create a plan that guarantees you’ll reach them.

Every other week for eight weeks we will spend an hour together on Skype discussing the unique aspects of your business and reviewing the work we’ve been doing/discussing via e-mail in between calls. At the end, you will have an action plan customized specifically for you to market your business, build your brand and motivate your employees.

You won’t even have to think.  All you have to do is take action on the ideas we discuss together.  And because we’re doing this over the next 8 weeks – we’ll have time to try some things and test some waters, to see what’s going to get you the biggest bang for your buck.

I’m looking for three people who are committed and willing to invest in themselves to make massive amounts of change in their businesses quickly.

I’ll be there watching over your shoulder and guiding you as long as you’re willing to take action.

Interested? Click on this link and I’ll tell you how to apply.

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Marketing tip #56: Walk a mile in their moccasins

February 8, 2011


I believe this is one of those marketing tips that we all nod our heads at and think, “gosh, I should do that one of these days” but really rarely get around to doing.

We get so caught up in our processes and getting the job done that we forget that we’re doing it “to” and “with” a human being.  And those pesky human beings sometimes need a little hand holding or explanation — especially if they’re new to the task.

It’s so easy to get frustrated with yet another question or request that takes you off “the path of the plan.”  But honestly — if you find yourself reacting that way — then shame on you.  Yes…shame on you.

If a customer is pushing back, or asking more questions or seems unable to pull the trigger it’s because you left something unexplained.  The more firmly you dig in your heels and hold them to the process, the more unsure they feel.  Which just leads to…yup, more questions and concern.  It’s an ugly cycle.

I’m reminded of this truth as we work with a new vendor to McLellan Marketing Group.  While they’re quite good at what they do, they have the customer service skills of a grumpy drunk.  I have often found myself wondering if they have any concept of what it’s like to work with them.  My guess is… no.

Our experience with them has me very mindful of how we’re treating our own clients.  Are we taking the time to really walk out the next steps with them?  Are we in tune with their hesitations or worries?  Do we dismiss their concerns or ideas because “we know” what’s right?  And do we even bother to explain the why?

I find myself wanting to be able to experience us… as a new client.  What do they see and hear?  Do they feel welcome and important?  Or do they feel rushed and confused?  Are our procedures confusing?  Our bills clear?  Our gratitude evident?

We can’t step into their shoes, but we can ask for their feedback.  We can be more mindful of how it must feel from their position.  In our quest to create love affairs with our customers — this would seem to me to be pivotal.

How about you?  How do you balance conducting business in a way that is efficient and effective with customer care?  How do you stay in touch with what it’s like to do business with you?

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