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Beware of Being Too Kind to Your Customers

money-in-handA recent MSNBC article says there aren’t many shopaholics left due to the recession. Then it explores how retailers are responding to frugal consumers for the upcoming holiday season, which accounts for up to twenty percent of annual sales for many of them.

Last year, holiday sales were down 3.4%. This year, even more Americans are dealing with job loss, fear of job loss, wage cuts, a drop in home prices and a rise in credit card interest rates.

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So what will consumers do? What's a retailer to do?

Working twice as hard but not making anymore
Let’s start with retailers. Dropping prices to push out inventory has become the norm since last year. Offering extreme discounts is a tactic many will use to try to get customers in their doors. Here's what that means:

Let’s say you have a product that costs you $10. You normally sell it for $20, leaving you with a $10 profit. You decide to cut your price by 25% to $15.

So now you make $5 every time you sell a product. You have to sell twice as much of this item just to make the same amount of money!

In this example, we used a product sale to keep it simple. However, many small businesses sell a service. So think about it this way:

Carrying forward the numbers above – if you cut your hourly rate by 25% – you would have to work twice as much but you wouldn’t make anymore.

Is it worth it? Would you be better served pursuing another strategy?

Consumers are more price-sensitive, but value is still king
Now, let's look at those customers. Experts cited in the article say consumers will shop for good value on items they want and need. Note the term “value”, not price.

Consumers are more price sensitive than ever. However, because they have been bombarded with super-low prices, they are beginning to think that those products are worthless.

Furthermore, they will pass up an offer – even if the price seems too good to be true – if they think they just don’t need the item. If you cut prices too much, you may kill your business by killing your customer with kindness!

3 strategies for a tight-belt economy:

  • Divide your product or service offerings into three categories – must have, need and want. In this economy, focus on the must haves. Which customers must have your must have product? Focus most of your efforts here.
  • Is there a way to bundle a “need” with a “must have” or a “want” with a “need”? Offer a special deal on the bundle rather than the individual product or service. You may find that you can sell more without having to work a lot harder.
  • Think about your customer’s bottom line. How can you add value to your product or service and boost your customer’s bottom line at the same time?

For example, is there some essential knowledge that you could impart to help your customer use your product or service to save money? If so, they’ll be much more likely to buy – even now.

How are you compelling your customers to buy your products or services?

Share that with us by leaving a comment, e-mailing us at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com or leaving a voice message at 888.455.BIGG (2444).

We think you’re too kind for checking in with us today. Thanks so much!

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There’s a popular celebrity who says it took him 26 years to get one mile down the road. Please join us next time and we’ll fill you in on his story of bigg success. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
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(Image in today's post by xenxen)

A Costly Cost Cutting Measure

cutting_costs.jpgBigg Success is life on your own terms. Today, we’ll focus on one of the five elements of bigg success – money.

We’re all looking for more ways to save money. That’s understandable. However, we need to think about not just survival, but “surthrival.”

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Many business owners and managers, small and large, are cutting back on their advertising. This cost-cutting practice can be very costly in the long run.

Could not advertising cost you $1.5 million?

A McGraw-Hill study, about the recession in the early 1980s, found that companies that maintained or increased their advertising had sales 256% higher three years after the recession ended.

Think about that … two companies, each with a million dollars in sales go into a recession. The company that holds tight on its advertising, or perhaps even increases it, will do over $2.5 million within a few years after the recession ends if the second company, the one that cut its advertising, treads water.

Signaling the end of your business

A recent study by Ad-ology found that 56% of the people surveyed thought that retail stores that cut back on advertising must be struggling.

In other words, your advertising sends a “signal” to both your existing and potential customers. Just like a company cutting back on its dividend, you’re telling the public you don’t expect your future to be bright when you cut back on advertising.

The signal is so strong that 15% of the people surveyed thought it meant that the firm who cut back on its advertising wouldn’t be in business much longer.

The time – money trade-off

One of the other elements of bigg success is time. If you’re a regular here you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating:

If you don’t have money, you have to spend time. It’s part of the price of bigg success.

So if you really feel the need to cut back on how much money you spend on advertising, it will pay to spend more time promoting your business.

That means networking

Depending on your business, you may primarily build relationships offline or online. However, you will probably be well-served to do both. Integration is one of the keys to success in business today.

If you have employees with down time, make good use of it. Tell them that you want to keep spreading the word so you all surthrive.

What you ask them to do will also depend upon your business. You may have them put out door knob hangers or give away free samples of your product. Perhaps they can make some phone calls or send e-mails to your list of customers.

Where to place your focus

We stated it subtly in that last sentence. We should emphasize it – focus on your existing customers to get the best return on your investment (of money and time).

Research has shown that it costs between five to eight times as much to get a new customer as it takes to keep an existing one. So, at the very least, make sure you’re communicating with your existing customers at least four to six 6 times a year.

Find out what their problems are. Find a solution – even if you can’t solve it directly, help them find the answer to build your relationship.

The most cost-effective way to grow your business

Building relationships with your best customers is the most cost-effective way to grow your business. When you can “wow” your customers, they will …

  • buy more
  • buy more often
  • tell others

Segment & tailor

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marylynnWhile we’re talking about your existing customers, can you segment them into smaller groups so you can tailor your communications more precisely?

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georgeI used to own a heating and cooling service company. We got our technicians to note the age of the furnace or air conditioner when they were in our customer’s home or business. Then we wrote a letter specifically to this group. We generated over $300 of sales for every letter we mailed!

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This highlights another point we alluded to earlier – get your staff involved. Help them understand how it not only makes their jobs more secure, it also means you continue to grow as a company so there will be more opportunities for everybody. That’s bigg success!

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
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Thanks so much for reading our post today. Please join us next time when we discuss what the underlying meaning of “I don’t have enough time.” Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00411-060809.mp3

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(Image in today's post from hisks)

Profitable Passions – Part 1

career_renegade We are privileged to have a special guest on The Bigg Success Show today. Jonathan Fields is a lawyer, entrepreneur, and author of the recently released book Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love.

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marylynn
So Jonathan, you’re a renegade. That sounds so fun … so dangerous.

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jonathanWell you know I live my life all around danger. But the renegade side is just taking a different approach to how you earn a living. It’s almost like taking everything everybody says you can’t do and won’t succeed at and then somehow figuring out how to do it.

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The limitations of others

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georgeI think that’s a great point. It doesn’t matter if it works for anybody else. As long as it works for you, that’s all that matters.

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jonathanAbsolutely. And it’s funny … people think it’s age-dependent to a certain extent and I’ve had people who were 16 come to me and say, “Hey listen. I can’t get anybody to take me seriously because I’m 16 years old, but I have mad skills in the IT world.” And then I’ve had people come to me who are 55 and say, “I have this idea and nobody will take me seriously because I’m too old or I have too much on the line.” But the reality is that you make your own opportunities in life. When people say, “You can’t do that” what they’re really saying is, “I can’t do that. So who do you think you are to try?” You have to understand that and step outside that limitation. Realize that it’s their limitation and not yours. If there’s something you truly believe in, just do it.

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Becoming a renegade

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marylynnLet’s go back to your renegade story. You were a lawyer making good money and you decided to walk away to follow your passion. What motivated you to do it and how did you get past your fears and go for it?

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jonathanDepending on how you look at it, I had the good fortune or the bad fortune of having a bit of a health issue. I was actually not too deeply into my law career at the job and the career and the firm that everybody wants to be at making a great living. After working a three-week stint with very little sleep and very little downtime, my immune system essentially shut down. My body was, literally, physically rejecting my career. So I started making a list of things that I thought would be really cool to do, that I love to do, and that I could somehow figure out a way to make a living at.

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It’s not the hours

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marylynnDoesn’t being an entrepreneur take as much time? I hear a lot of people saying that they don’t want to be a business owner because of the time that it takes.

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jonathanAbsolutely. Being an entrepreneur takes as much time, if not more time. But it’s not so much the hours that you put in, as it is how you spend those hours, which determine your satisfaction with what you’re doing. I put in a lot of hours – between writing and running different businesses – but I have control over those hours. I’m a family person so there’s nothing more important to me than having time with my wife and my daughter. So I wrap those business hours around the time that I know I want to spend with my family. I make breakfast and lunch for my daughter. I hang out with her in the morning. I pick her up from school. And then I may work a little bit in the evening after everybody goes to bed. The flip side is that when I wake up, I can’t wait to work. I’m bummed when I can’t work because I love what I do so much. So when that’s how you define work, hours don’t really mean a whole lot anymore. The bigger challenge becomes balancing multiple passions so that you have enough time to intelligently honor whatever your commitments to those passions are.

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Is now the right time?

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georgeJonathan – it would seem like the objection a lot of people might have – there are times to start a business and there are times not to start a business. Like right now, is this a good time to be a renegade?

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jonathanThat’s a great question. In my mind, it’s a phenomenal time. Some of the biggest companies that are out there today were started during the last substantial recession. Within any time where there’s economic challenge, very often the people who are willing to take risks, when everybody else is awash in a sea of paralysis, are the people who end up being in a phenomenally better place once we emerge from whatever’s going on. They tend to be really well positioned to move forward aggressively. The challenge with what’s happening now is credit. A lot of people are saying, “Listen, I would be willing to take a risk.” Hundreds of thousands are out of a job. They’re saying, “I can’t go back to that job. If I had access to money, I actually might take the risk but I don’t.” But what’s really interesting is that there is a massive move to creating entrepreneurship online where you can swap work for money. It’s not so much that people don’t have the money anymore because you don’t need a whole lot. It’s that they don’t have the knowledge of what’s capable when you tap the online world. All you need for that is a broadband connection and a little bit of money to get going. You can literally transform a lot of knowledge that you have into monetizable businesses if you know how to do it.

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marylynnSo if your specialty is marketing, you can create your own brand online. Instead of just having your local clients, now you can have a shot at international clients.

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jonathanYeah. Being online opens up a worldwide market to you – whether it’s marketing or making kooky hats. There may be only 100 people in your town that would support a kooky hat store. But if you open up your market to online, maybe there’s thousands, or tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands. You also don’t have to pay the rent for a storefront. You’re cutting a massive amount of your fixed overhead. I’ve been an entrepreneur, both online and in the brick-and-mortar world, so I understand the issues of overhead very well from both worlds.

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Learn more about Jonathan at his Career Renegade site.

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Thanks so much for stopping by our site today. Join us next time when we continue our discussion with Jonathan. He gives more great advice for all you career renegades who want to get a business going. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00319-012909.mp3

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(Image in today's post by Career Renegade)

What’s Hot in 2009: Threats

maple_leaf_foods_logo This week on The Bigg Success Show, we’re taking a look at opportunities and threats in 2009. Today, we continue the five-part series by looking at threats.

We recently posted an article where we shared seven threats facing us in 2009. We’ll discuss two of them today.

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Downturn expected to hit higher and harder

The first threat is the recession. It is now expected to be deeper, longer, and different than any other downturn that we’ve witnessed in our lifetimes. As with any recession, layoffs will be part of the mix.

In the past, layoffs have occurred mostly at the lower end of the career spectrum. What makes this recession different, and the reason we feel it’s important to emphasize this to the members of our community, is that this recession is expected to hit hardest at the upper end.

It was recently suggested in an article on Harvard’s site that this recession be dubbed “The Great Disruption.” It certainly has been disruptive, hasn’t it? It appears that volatility is something we need to get used to going forward.

Moving out is moving up

Another important threat is continued outsourcing. This is also something that we feel may disproportionately affect the people in our community in the coming year.

We’ve already witnessed it, but jobs outside manufacturing are now at risk. It was interesting to see manufacturing start coming back onshore as the price of fuel rose. With the digital revolution, the cost of moving information around the world costs practically nothing. So white-collar jobs may be the most at risk now.

We’ve seen that already with lower skill jobs. Now it seems that some higher level careers may also be at risk. We see two factors in jobs that are safe:

  • an on-site presence is necessary to perform the work
  • face-to-face contact produces better results

The article also mentions a great resource that describes occupations that are and aren’t likely to be moved offshore as well as the other five threats. Check it out!

We like to think positively, but it’s also important to realistically assess those impediments to achieving our goals. We call that positively real thinking … that’s what it takes to succeed bigg!

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success when you
subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE

___

We’re really grateful that you took time out of your day to read our post today. Join us next time when we look at some questions which will help you tie the opportunities and threats to the right career or business for you. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00303-010708.mp3

Related posts

What’s Hot in 2009: Careers

What’s Hot in 2009: Businesses

(Image in today's post by MISHA)

What's Hot in 2009: Threats

maple_leaf_foods_logo This week on The Bigg Success Show, we’re taking a look at opportunities and threats in 2009. Today, we continue the five-part series by looking at threats.

We recently posted an article where we shared seven threats facing us in 2009. We’ll discuss two of them today.

___

___

Downturn expected to hit higher and harder

The first threat is the recession. It is now expected to be deeper, longer, and different than any other downturn that we’ve witnessed in our lifetimes. As with any recession, layoffs will be part of the mix.

In the past, layoffs have occurred mostly at the lower end of the career spectrum. What makes this recession different, and the reason we feel it’s important to emphasize this to the members of our community, is that this recession is expected to hit hardest at the upper end.

It was recently suggested in an article on Harvard’s site that this recession be dubbed “The Great Disruption.” It certainly has been disruptive, hasn’t it? It appears that volatility is something we need to get used to going forward.

Moving out is moving up

Another important threat is continued outsourcing. This is also something that we feel may disproportionately affect the people in our community in the coming year.

We’ve already witnessed it, but jobs outside manufacturing are now at risk. It was interesting to see manufacturing start coming back onshore as the price of fuel rose. With the digital revolution, the cost of moving information around the world costs practically nothing. So white-collar jobs may be the most at risk now.

We’ve seen that already with lower skill jobs. Now it seems that some higher level careers may also be at risk. We see two factors in jobs that are safe:

  • an on-site presence is necessary to perform the work
  • face-to-face contact produces better results

The article also mentions a great resource that describes occupations that are and aren’t likely to be moved offshore as well as the other five threats. Check it out!

We like to think positively, but it’s also important to realistically assess those impediments to achieving our goals. We call that positively real thinking … that’s what it takes to succeed bigg!

___

Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success when you
subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE

___

We’re really grateful that you took time out of your day to read our post today. Join us next time when we look at some questions which will help you tie the opportunities and threats to the right career or business for you. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00303-010708.mp3

Related posts

What’s Hot in 2009: Careers

What’s Hot in 2009: Businesses

(Image in today's post by MISHA)