4 reasons you shouldn’t build discounts in to your marketing strategy

No matter what you sell, whether you’re a B2B or B2C (or combination) business, or how big your budgets are, everyone is concerned with increasing revenue.  When you see a slump in sales, or you want to attract new customers, the first thing many people think about is offering a discount.  It could be buy one get one free, half price or 10% off. You might even go for a special promotion, such as Build A Bear’s “Pay Your Age” day (which has generated mixed results in the past).  We’re all quick to get the shears on our pricing structure in the hopes of generating increased sales.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong. It works.  Or, at least it can do.  Offer a serious discount, you’re likely to get more interest and new people through your door.  It’s why the likes of Groupon does so well, people are always looking for a bargain.  Price cuts can also encourage people to spend their pennies with a new business for the first time, preparing to take a gamble on the outcome thanks to the heavily discounted cost.  There’s reduced perceived risk from the consumer’s perspective.

 

However, is discounting really a good idea as part of your ongoing marketing strategy?  There are definitely some problems with this approach.

 

#1 – You demonstrate lack of confidence

When your product costs X, and you tell a prospective client or customer you’re prepared to sell it for Y, what are you showing them?  You’re demonstrating you don’t have any confidence in the original price.  You’re showing them that it was never really worth X in the first place.

 

That has an impact on the perceived value of what it is you’re offering.  You can sell all the features, all the benefits, all the mod-cons that come with your product/service, but as soon as you start talking about price, that is the only thing your customer will focus on.  All the good stuff will be forgotten, and the price point becomes the focus.

 

#2 – You’re setting yourself up for future problems

Once you offer a discount, there’s no going back.  Whether it’s existing customers that get the discount, new ones only, or it’s open to everyone, people are going to expect you to offer something similar again in the future.

 

People who sign up for three months of a service at half price might decide continuing with the same service at full price later down the line isn’t worth it.  All you’ve done there is sell your product at discount, and ultimately lost a customer.

 

Other people may only buy from you when you make the discount again, knowing that you’re prepared to slash prices when times get hard.  That means you’re putting people off from buying from you at every other opportunity.  Not to mention the fact that people who bought early, and didn’t get the discount, will be peeved they spent more instead of waiting.

#3 – You don’t care about customer loyalty

Discounts are there to entice people who don’t normally spend with you (unless you’re offering it solely as part of a customer reward).  In that situation you’re showing you don’t care who comes to you, as long as they come and buy.  There’s no opportunity to build loyalty when your sales process is based solely on price – next time they need to buy a similar product/service they will simply look around for the cheapest option.  If that’s not you, they will go elsewhere.

 

# 4 – You’re making your sales team work harder

Unless you’re plucking figures out of thin air, your pricing structure is carefully calculated to ensure you ultimately make a profit.  If you take that product/service and sell it at half price, you’re going to need to sell twice as many to keep the same level of revenue.  That’s more people your sales team are going to have to convince to part with their money.

 

 

You are far better working out a sensible pricing structure that not only ensures you are able to make a profit as a business, but that your customers and clients are receiving value for money in the long run.  Equally, your pricing structure should be sustainable – you don’t want to have to change it every few months.

 

 

Case Study: Email and Diary Management

Over the last few weeks I’ve been talking about how you can outsource your inbox to a Virtual Assistant, as well as providing top tips for how to better manage your email yourself. This week I wanted to give you an example of the work I do for one of my clients, and how it’s helped.

Jon runs a hugely successful property management business in Essex. To keep his overheads low he runs a virtual office, with the vast majority of tasks associated with the business either being undertaken by himself and his wife, or outsourced to experts.

He has a marketing firm handle all of his branding and social media, his wife Reenie manages the admin, a bookkeeper comes in twice a month and then there’s me. I’m in charge of Jon’s email and calendar.

So, what exactly do I do?

Although Jon has his own email, only the members of his team know what it is. Every other email comes to the generic “office” email address, which I manage. On an average day we can receive anywhere between 50 and 120 emails per day.

My job is to whittle this number down significantly. Ideally to less than 10.

Every morning I therefore filter the emails and delete any obvious spam. Any newsletters that might be useful in terms of content production I forward to the marketing team, and then delete.

I then answer any obvious queries, for example, requests for information on when work will be completed, or a property will become available again. The answers are all easy to find, thanks to the processes we have already put in place, and it just takes a few minutes to grab what I need and send it over to the enquirer.

Next I focus on meeting requests. These can be 121’s from his various networking activities, meetings with existing landlords or new ones, property visits etc. To save email exchanges taking place I tend to pick up the phone and call people to book them in there and then. There is nothing worse than suggesting a time and date, only for Jon to have filled that slot himself in the time it’s taken the person I am speaking to to get back to me.

Finally, I forward directly to Jon any emails I am unable to deal with myself. Usually these will simply be brand new contacts or potential prospects, as he always likes to be the first contact. Over the last two years, I have never sent him more than 8 emails in one day. Everything else I save him from, which saves him an insane amount of time each day.

The process is repeated during the late afternoon, at which point I also check his calendar and confirm any appointments he has for the next day to avoid wasted time.

Where necessary I also arrange travel, both domestic and international, and send invitations to his database for viewings and any events he is speaking at.

The time he saves in not having to deal with the mundane day-to-day management of his inbox is worth far more than what he pays me to deal with it on a daily basis. He’d be the first to admit that he was sceptical about it all at first, but after working with each other for a few weeks, we got in to a great routine, and he’s never looked back. Most people know that it’s me they’re going to be hearing from, and none of them realise I am not based in the same area (though, my accent probably helps out with this a bit).

 

If you want to find out whether outsourcing your email could bring benefit to you and your business, please give me a call on 0161 883 2024, email lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk or send me an InMail. I am always happy to discuss your options, or provide tips to help.

How a VA can make you a better networker

One thing many people struggle with is making the most of their networking activities. It’s all very well finding the time to actually attend a networking meeting either weekly or fortnightly, but doing it right can be all too time consuming for some.

Networking isn’t simply about showing up and passing business cards around. You need to take the time to think about what it is you want to say – you only have 60 seconds to get your point across and make people remember you. Equally, you also need to commit to the follow up. If you’re not going to make the most of any connections or leads that have come your way, you’re totally wasting your time rocking up to an event in the first place.

I have one client who attends, on average, six networking events a week. All, bar one, are morning meetings which he likes because he can get them out of the way before most people have started in the office. However, he came to the realisation that he wasn’t keeping on top of everything effectively, which meant he was essentially wasting his time, and money, by going to all these different events.

In order to help reduce the strain on his time, and ensure that he is being as efficient as possible with his networking activities we have put a few things in place.

60 Seconds

Once a month we have a 10 minute phone call to brainstorm ideas and catch up on what’s been happening in his business. From this chat, and from my general day to day knowledge of what he’s been up to, I am able to write his 60 seconds/elevator pitches for him to use.

He prides himself on not using the same information over and over again, as he wants to keep things interesting for the rest of the people in the room. Thankfully I have a great system set up whereby I know what he has said in which group, and when so there is not likely to be any repetition.

CRMs

When a new member joins one of his groups, or a visitor has attended, he will send me a picture of their business card via WhatsApp. I will then add their details in to his CRM system, along with information of what meeting they attended, if they have been before and if he has set up a one to one meeting with them.

One to Ones

Before you think it, no, I do not attend one to one’s on his behalf! We did talk about it once, and I managed to talk him out of it. However, what I will do is liaise with people to book the one to one’s in the first place, and send confirmation of the appointment once it has been made.

He then records his one to one meetings on his iPhone, and sends me the audio which I will transcribe. From this I complete a “file note” for him, which will be attached to the individual’s record on his CRM and forwarded to them as well. This is to allow them to confirm that he has understood precisely what they do in their business and what sort of opportunities or referrals they are looking for.

I will then add their details in to a database so that in 11 months we will make contact again to arrange another one to one.

Referrals

When he is handed a referral or lead he will always pass me the details so that I can make the initial contact. I will find out precisely what is required, and pass over any information that the prospect needs to be able to make a decision.

If a meeting needs to be arranged, I will schedule it.

From there, the client handles everything else himself.

This is an approach that works perfectly for him, but might not be ideal for everyone. However, I hope it gives you some idea of how outsourcing some tasks could take the pressure off you, and allow you to be more efficient at work.

If you want to have a chat about how you could improve things in your office, why not give me a call on 0161 883 2024 or email lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk

Why you should outsource your Inbox

We all know that a VA is thereto hep you become more productive, and will stop you from feeling overwhelmed.  But how exactly do they do that?  What tasks can they perform to make your business life run more smoothly?

Of course the answer to that isn’t entirely simple. A lot will depend on what you do, how good you are at delegating and letting go of control, and what your VA specialises in. Some VA’s have a varied skill set as many will be time served PA’s, others may focus on specific areas.

However, one thing your VA should be able to do is handle your emails.

Now, hear me out. I know there’s a huge part of you (if not the whole part of you) that is visibly recoiling at the thought of handing your inbox over to someone else, someone who may, in all reality, be a perfect stranger, but ssssh my pretty.

Take a deep breath and carry on reading.

According to an O2 Business report published in 2015 the average worker sends 4,000 emails per year. Working on the basis there’s 365 days in a year, 105 of which fall on weekends, eight of which are public holidays and 28 are owed as personal holidays, that average worker only actually works 224 days a year. That is assuming they are never ill or have to take a personal day.

That means, on average, they are sending 17 emails a day. It might not seem like a lot, but assuming each email takes a minimum of five minutes to compose and send (which, in all honesty, is unlikely), that’s one hour and 29 minutes per day just sending emails.

Or, to put it another way 19,936 minutes per year, which is also known as 332 hours or 13 days.

That’s 13 days a year lost in email responses alone. And that’s assuming they’re quick and easy responses in the first place, or you’re a fast typer.

Apparently we receive even more than we send – 6,000 on average per year. You can do the math on that one.

The point is emails can be hugely time consuming, and a lot of them are utterly pointless. There is no legitimate reason that the task of dealing with them can’t be outsourced to a VA. Other than you perhaps find it a little alien and difficult to relinquish control.

Think about the emails you receive on a day to day basis. How many of them ask for the same sort of information? Could you set up template responses to send back a quick-fire response, or direct enquirers to a particular page on your website? How many are junk, forwarded from mailing lists you subscribed to years ago? If you’re not getting the benefit from them or the information you once thought you were, cut the clutter and unsubscribe immediately. How many group emails are you included in, that keep you tied up in a long thread that really has little or nothing to do with you?

These are just some examples, but it’s very easy for a VA to sift through the rubbish, reply to the standard requests and leave you only with the actual things that require your attention specifically.

Why not spend the rest of this week keeping a note of how much time you’re spending on your work emails? What could you achieve if you were a bit more precious with your time than you were with your inbox?

Find out how Time Saving Heroes can help – call 0161 883 2024, email lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk or get in touch with Lu via LinkedIn.

If you’re avoiding social media because of this, then you’re missing the point

The vast majority of the people who follow this blog are business owners (usually SMEs), and as such I imagine this post will resonate somewhat.

This week I had a meeting with a potential client who wanted to find out more about the services I offered.  Initially they were interested in content for their website, but conversation drifted to social media.  They immediately admitted they could see the upside, but the thing that worried them the most was this – what if they (i.e. their customers) took to social media to complain?

It’s entirely plausible that I’ve been doing this for too long because honestly it took me a while to understand what their problem was.

We all know that customers sometimes complain. Occasionally they complain for apparently no reason – some people just can’t be helped. No, it’s never nice to be complained about, so I get that; however, every complaint is an opportunity to wow.

Ah, but a complaint on social media could go viral they tell me.

Yes, I acknowledge, it could. However, you have 15 followers and sell a niche product, the chance is slim. And if it happened, your business would probably benefit from the publicity.

It’s not really worth the risk though, they argue.

Harumph.

Let’s cut to the chase here. Your customers will not complain because you are on social media. If they feel strongly enough to complain, they will find a way to do so.  This obsession that somehow a complaint on a Facebook page is going to destroy your business is simply ridiculous.

How did customers used to complain?  In person. The law of Sod would also dictate they’d wait until your store was at its busiest before they did so. The result? Other people would hear.

You know what impact those complaints have on your target audience? Nothing – provided of course you handle it correctly.

Online complaints are no different.

If someone complains on social media, and you address it courteously and in a timely manner, you will always come away looking better.   As a result, social media is not a thing to be feared. It is an opportunity to be embraced and one we really don’t think you should miss.

 

If you are concerned about how to keep on top of your interactions we offer a management service to take the hassle from you. Alternatively, we are always happy to provide advice if you have a specific concern when it comes to customer service.

Please get in touch by calling our hero hotline: 0161 883 2024, emailing lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk or messaging us via Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

 

 

What’s the point of a Virtual Assistant?

When people ask me what the point of a Virtual Assistant (VA) is, I always reply “to make you better”. While no two VA’s are the same, their fundamental purpose is. Namely to make their client’s life easier, one way or another. What that means, in reality, will depend on what it is you’re trying to achieve.

We all have a very specific skill set, and it may well be that you are the only person in your business that can do whatever it is that you do. If you are spending your time doing other things, such as answering the phone, dealing with mundane enquiries, typing up invoices or even getting involved in debt collection, your skill sets are being wasted.

If you are doing everything else, then you can’t possibly be focussing on what’s needed to drive the business forward, and that means you’re going nowhere fast. A VA can take over these time consuming tasks on your behalf, thus freeing your time up to spend on other aspects of your business.

If you constantly feel overwhelmed by how much you have to do, always say you wish there were more hours in the day (or bemoan how much time you actually spend at work) and want to be more productive and less stressed then it’s time you seriously considered hiring a VA.

The New Year is a great time to make some changes, both personally and professionally, and an experienced VA on your side could be the kick up the what-not you need in your business. Having someone who “has your back”, no matter what, could provide you with a large amount of extra time, to ensure you are moving in the right direction.

If you want to find out more about what a VA could do for you and your business, pick up the phone and give me a call today on 0161 883 2024. Alternatively, message me on LinkedIn directly or email lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk

I am always happy to help.

Have a great day, and all the best for the New Year!

Case Study: Social Media and processes

The client

Our client, Davide, runs an Italian restaurant in Edinburgh.  It’s a nice looking place (we’ve not been, but we’re contemplating a day trip at some point), and from what we’ve been told has a great atmosphere and serves traditional Italian cuisine.

Right up our street!

The problem

Davide’s biggest problem was that as his restaurant is off the main thoroughfare he doesn’t get a lot of passing footfall.  People come to his restaurant because they know about it, and sadly for him, not enough people seemed to know about him.

He’d taken over the restaurant from another owner who, by all accounts, had run it in to the ground, and developed a bad reputation.

Despite doing a lot to not only renovate the space itself (including a state of the art kitchen) and revamp the menu, Davide never took the time to shout about the new place.  There wasn’t even a press release.

He’d spent lots of money on a website, but wasn’t actively promoting it. Anywhere.  It was an online version of the actual restaurant – looked great, but hidden away and kept secret.

Davide was the first to admit that he wasn’t doing enough, and he knew that’s where the problems lay, but he was so overwhelmed and confused by what he should do that he was essentially standing still, completely unable to make a decision on how to move forward.

What Time Saving Heroes did

First of all, Lu had a long chat with Davide over the phone.  It was clear that although he didn’t have all the necessary skills needed to tackle his marketing on his own, he did have a lot of them – what he lacked was clarity, a strategy and if we’re honest, a degree of self-confidence.

An hour into their chat it was obvious that just having someone to bounce ideas around with was going to be a huge benefit to Davide. Within that short space of time he remembered why he wanted to set up the restaurant in the first place, and how passionate he’d been about it initially.

Instead of beating himself up about what he could have done differently, Lu encouraged him to start taking one step at a time, and focus on where he wanted to go.  It was during this conversation that Davide said he wanted to encourage local businesses to use the restaurant at lunch times, whilst pushing his other customers to come in the evenings.

On the back of this we initially decided to focus on LinkedIn.  Lu re-wrote Davide’s personal profile, and really focused on how he and his team could provide a quick and easy lunch for those on a quick break, a great venue for corporate entertaining, and even hosting for networking events.  She also set up a company page that Davide could link directly to.

After an intensive training session via Skype, Davide learnt the basics he needed to start using LinkedIn effectively to make contacts in the local area.  By the end of the first week he had arranged meetings with a local networking franchisee (who wanted a lunch time venue), a call centre manager (who knew his staff wanted an alternative off-site food option that wouldn’t eat in to their break), and an investment firm who wanted somewhere nice and quiet to meet with clients.

At the same time we set up Facebook and Twitter accounts for the restaurant and really started to focus on the domestic customers Davide wanted to attract.  We spent £50 on Facebook advertising, targeting a very specific age range and geographical area, which had great results. We also started using hashtags on Twitter to encourage happy hour, Fizz Fridays and Mum Mondays (where Mum’s ate for free, every week).

Almost immediately online bookings increased, as did walk-ins and Davide was thrilled, as you can imagine.  He never anticipated that doing a few simple things would have such a huge impact.  The great news for him, was that once we got him started, and showed him what to do, he could take over the reigns for himself.  Meaning that his marketing was handled in-house and wasn’t an ongoing cost for him.

However, that’s not the end of our relationship with Davide.

Once customers started coming through the door we encouraged him to set up, and maintain a database.  This would allow him to see where a customer had come from (Facebook, Twitter, local trade etc), and obtain their contact details so he could direct message in the future.  By asking for date of births, and other special occasions, we’re now able to,  on his behalf, send out specific emails offering discounts for Birthdays and anniversaries.

The feedback from his customers is brilliant – they love feeling like the team care about them enough to remember their special events, and they always come back and leave with a smile on their faces.

What Davide had to say

“The team at Time Saving Heroes are amazing, nothing is ever too much trouble, and they make me feel like I am their only client. I can pick up the phone and just have a moan to Lu, who handles it all with good grace and manages to lift my spirits when I’m having a bad day. Thankfully, such days are less now.

“I cannot say how much value Lu and the team have added, it’s much much more than I could have anticipated. I expected a bit of marketing, and instead I got friends, colleagues and someone who loves my business as much as I do.

“When you feel like you’re on your own at times, that’s worth so so much. You ever come to Edinburgh, the meal’s on the house”

 

We’ll take you up on that offer on day, Davide!