I have seen a clever, aggressive, intense marketing plan sell something that by all means shouldn’t have sold. There is a mood that, if the price is great, you should be able to put a sign on something and it will sell itself.
I was hosting a party at a big bar and event center last week, during its inaugural week. It had just been purchased and re-opened under a new name, new image and new management. While chatting with the GM, she mentioned that some of the old customers had come in and left fairly quickly, complaining. As it turned out, the last owner had offered some severely discounted drink prices. The new owners offered some great deals, but just not as cheap as the old bar.
I asked her if she reminded them that the old bar went out of business. (We shared a good laugh.)
Here is a really great place, a very friendly staff, offering new events and activities for patrons – but for some folks it’s just not going to be good enough. A manager hoping for a full house may be sorry to see anyone at all leave less than satisfied.
But, if that’s the clientele you’re spending your effort on…why are you settling?
Vicki Flaughter, CEO of SmartWoman writes about her #1 business tip for 2011 in her blog. “With all my research and learning, and all the advice I see out there, if I were to pick just one thing to share with you, it would be this: stop settling.”
Truth is, she says, many or most of us are settling. “We enter the marketplace with discounted or artificially low prices because we think that builds our client base when all it actually does is squeeze our margins, reduce our net profit, and condition customers to expect that price level into the future. That is settling.”
We settle in many ways; just one is to undervaluing our service. We settle when we put our work and business above our health and relationships. We settle when we let someone push us around without asserting ourselves, afraid to lose a client. We settle when we refuse to say no to something, and stretch ourselves too thin – then we force our good clients to settle for less than the best work we can do, and settle for less than our full attention.
I prefer to work with a limited number of clients, and work with them until they are completely satisfied. It is tempting to want to offer to help everyone, every friend-of-a-friend or acquaintance growing their business and looking for help. But when you can’t do your best work, doesn’t everyone pay for that? And if you’re not doing your best work, the word of mouth referrals slow down and stop coming.
I’m not suggesting that it’s never a good idea turn choose your work over fun. Or that you should price yourself so high, especially in this economy, that you’re not competitive. As with all things, there is a balance.
Real estate is a good example. I have seen owners who refuse to acknowledge the real estate market is down right now, and want to price their house for even more than when they bought it a few years ago. What a surprise, their house wouldn’t sell.
Real estate agents are known for being very opinionated bloggers. (Many have some tremendous business insights. ActiveRain and Trulia Voices are great examples.) I remember reading a question posed to the ActiveRain community a couple years ago: if you could only pick one, good marketing or good pricing, which would you pick?
Dozens, if not a hundred, replied. The resounding answer was for the low price. Again, I’m not for overpricing your product, but I would have liked at least one great answer for the marketing argument. I have seen a clever, aggressive, intense marketing plan sell something that by all means shouldn’t have sold. There is a mood that, if the price is great, you should be able to put a sign on something and it will sell itself. It seems a bit like lazy salesmanship.
It’s also settling. A similar blogger complained about a client who called her at all hours. Someone asked, “Are you answering your phone?” Of course she was, she didn’t want to risk losing her client. “They will call back at 9 am. If they don’t, is that really a client you want to keep anyway?”
Sometimes the answers are just that simple. Success can be talking right to our face, but we’re too busy on the other line. This year, maybe, don’t settle. Don’t let yourself be drained. Value your work. Define your clientele and find them. Meet your marketing goals with the clever, aggressive intensity you’re capable of.