After two years of planning, writing and frankly hemming and hawing about whether we wanted to do this or not, our soon-to-be-released book, Worth Every Penny: Build a Business That Thrills Your Customers and Still Charge What You’re Worth, has finally arrived. And while that’s obviously exciting for us, what’s more important is how this book can help you. And even if you don’t read the book, what can you take away from the model Sarah used to build one of the most profitable boutique photography studios in the country?
Regardless of what industry you compete in, this model can work for any small business. In fact, in the book we share 31 different businesses from a variety of industries – from home construction to online retail, printing services, real estate, restaurants, higher education, a comic book company, salons and spas and more who are putting this model into practice and reaping the rewards.
It all starts with five key ingredients you must get right in your business that enable you to create more value for your offerings so that price is no longer a sticking point with your clients.
Ingredient 1 – Brand
You can’t build a strong brand on a weak identity. And it’s nearly impossible to charge what you’re worth without a strong brand. But what is a brand? Your brand is how your ideal client feels about you. It’s the feelings that ideal client conjures up when someone mentions your business name and you want them to be strong (and positive). YOU are an integral part of your brand thanks to the enthusiasm, personal flair and individual attention you present to each of your clients when you implement the model we talk about in Worth Every Penny. There are 5 key points of your boutique brand that you must get right to charge what you’re worth: your identity (how people recognize your company graphically), your consistency, your niche, your reputation, and your gush-worthiness. The reality is, most small businesses fall down here. They have something wrong with their brand that attracts price sensitive buyers from the start. That’s what we delve into in Worth Every Penny.
Ingredient 2 – Understanding your numbers
There are a lot of ways to price your offerings, but most don’t work for a boutique business model. Just copying what your competitors or offering or a high performing business in another market isn’t the answer at all. Start by understanding the cost of each sale you make: this includes any packaging, merchandise or labor. An accountant can help you with this. Once you understand these numbers, you have your bare minimum price (with no profit built in). Then you can look at setting a price based on demand – what customers will pay because what you’re offering is so desirable. We’ll show you how in the book.
Ingredient 3 – Marketing
To charge what you’re worth you must have offerings that are not easy imitate. It starts with products and services that your customers can’t easily get elsewhere. Your products and services must make people go gaga over you if you want them to pay more for you. They need to be extra special, unmatched, interesting or even shocking. They need to be special enough to make someone want to talk about them, and not just because of their price. Instead of searching for ways to raise prices, slash costs or become faster instead find the empty place for your ideal client where you can add a thrill for them. Make the mundane and ordinary an experience they want to share. And the more customized your offerings are, the more difficult it will be for anyone to copy you and your perceived value will continue to rise.
Ingredient 4 – Promotion
Promotion is what you do to tell people about your offerings – and it goes beyond paid advertising. For the most part, boutique businesses should steer clear of traditional advertising and focus not on reaching the masses, but instead reaching the right people who may be drawn to what you do. Boutique ideas for promotion include giving a presentation or educational session that highlights your expert status, providing content to the media on newsworthy topics, blogging on your own or other’s blogs with tips and advice to cement your expert status, working with other businesses who also reach your target audience to co-market together, working with charities to help elevate their cause and developing a promotional piece that makes your ideal client talk about you (no we’re not talking about a postcard here). Your promotional efforts need to scream to your ideal client that THEY are the most important part of your day.
Ingredient 5 – Selling
Boutique selling isn’t about schmoozing, high pressure or manipulation so if that’s what you’re doing this may be where you’re going wrong. In boutique selling there is high engagement between you and your client. You need to build rapport, get to know your customer and spend time educating them. Your first thought should be ‘What problem do they have?’ ‘How can I help them?’ The sales process should be relationship based and the service and experience should continue after the transaction. Instead of giving them a smooth talking sales pitch, you’re searching for solutions that will absolutely, positively satisfy their needs and bring them joy. You have to be active and aggressive about adding value to the purchase and joy to their lives – not about closing the sale. We share tips for switching to a boutique selling mindset in Worth Every Penny.
Until midnight CST on Friday, April 13, you can purchase Worth Every Penny here and get a PDF copy now to start reading. The hard cover copy will ship to you on April 24, 2012 when the book is available. And we’ll also throw in our exclusive 10 page PDF graphic standards guide, which shows you how to create a consistent image for your business from the fonts you use, logo, design elements and more.