Helping Any Way I Can (and You Want)

Roy Everitt on marketingDecember 2010:

Last night I was updating my Facebook profile with the new layout and adding my home town, etc, when I spotted the little bit of text that describes what I actually do.

In truth, what I’d written already was okay, since it did describe what I want people to think I do. The idea being that anyone who reads it and needs that kind of help will contact me, one way or another.

In marketing it usually pays to be speciific, so potential customers will know right away if you have what they want or if you’re likely to be able to solve their particular problem. But we’re all (I hope) bigger than our jobs, our careers or our Facebook profiles and, what’s more, I know we all have the capacity to be bigger and better than we have been so far.

Put it this way: Our only known limits are the limits of our experience to date.

So, it seemed to me I could describe what I do, what I want to do and what I seem to find myself doing when I stop trying to do what I think I should do – still with me? – by being less specific, not more.

In other words, by using the one word that describes my most recent and most enjoyable and worthwhile activities I coud sum myself up rather better. (I’m not sure if activities are always enjoyable for being worthwhile or if they are inherently worthwhile just by virtue of the fact that we enjoy doing them, but whatever concidence of chemistry, psychology or synchronicity brings them together, worthwhile and enjoyable do go together rather well.)

Maybe it’s just a matter of pleasure without guilt…

…anyway, what I’ve found myself enjoying doing lately can be summed up in one word: ‘helping’.

Now, it may be that I can help you. That doesn’t mean I always can or always will choose to help, or that what you think you need help with is exactly what I would choose to do for you, but if we can synchronise those things, and if we can both agree that my help is what you need right now (or then), I’d love to help.

Of course, every transaction is a two-way thing, and I’ll need your help, too. If helping you means I have less time to help myself (with boring old bills and that kind of thing) I’ll need your help in the form of some of those Bank of England promisary notes that magically help me keep my own body and soul together.

Then we’ll both be helping each other, and you know how good that feels!

Easy Peasy

Well, I made it to the top of Le Tourmalet and it wasn’t as tough as I feared, although it was hard enough, thanks, and I was very nervous the evening before the big climb.

This was mainly because we had a very hard day getting to the bottom of the climb, “positioning” via the Col Du Soulor, which is also a Tour de France favourite. Although it’s almost 700 metres lower at the summit, the Soulor starts at a lower altitude and is steeper, on average, so it’s actually a more intense climb, even though it’s much shorter – 12km versus 19km. The average gradient is about 9 percent, while the Tourmalet averages 7.4.

That meant I arrived at our overnight hotel just about exhausted and very doubtful indeed of my ability to recover overnight and climb Le Tourmalet next morning. A shower and a good meal improved my mood a lot and by next morning, after a good breakfast, I felt much more confident.

And my confidence was well placed, because, while the climb was long it was definitely doable. And now it’s done and I pulled that tee shirt on in record time!

Like a lot of things in life, getting to the start can be be hardest part. If you’re ready for the challenge, you’ll make it. Of course, you won’t really know for sure until you actually do it.

It’s not just a case of “Just do it”, but in the end that’s what it comes down to.

Big Mountains Need Small Hills

I plan to cycle up a mountain in three weeks time. And I will because I know that, by then, I will be strong and fit enough, if only just.

The last time I did anything similar was six years ago (!) but I managed to reach the minimum level of fitness on a quite tight training schedule. I was so impressed with myself that I wrote a book about it and how you can probably do the same or something equivalent.

In 2010, we cycled from Paris to Venice and took in quite a few mountains, actually. I didn’t know then if I could actually manage it, although I had climbed some pretty big hills in my training rides. Now I know, even though I’m six years older, that I can climb that mountain.

This time we’ll be tackling the Col Du Tourmalet, one of the iconic rides in the Tour de France. I’ve driven up it and even bought the T shirt, but I’ve never worn it because I’m not entitled to. Yet. Come September 10th, and I’ll be wearing it with pride.

But if I had tried to climb even a big hill just a couple of months ago I would probably have failed (or walked). It helps that I’ve done some quite strenuous walking in recent months, actually, but the main reason I can be optimistic now is that I’ve been riding up quite a few somewhat smaller hills. We don’t have mountains in Jersey but we do have a lot of nice, steep hills, as well as some slightly longer ones that are more like the gradients we’ll encounter in the Pyrenees.

So it will be a strain and I won’t be fast but I’ll be as ready as I can be without actually living in the mountains – and with a mere six week training programme.

I’ll let you know how much it hurts, but also how great it feels to be on top of that mountain!


Premium Pricing – Controversial but Common Sense

I’ve been reading a lot recently from people I admire and listen to on the subject of premium pricing. With me, they’re very much preaching to the converted, but there are still a lot of business owners – in a wide range of businesses – who find the idea of setting (and sticking to) premium prices difficult or just plain wrong.

When you look at it objectively, premium pricing is just plain common sense. Why sell your time, or anything else, for less than you could? Firstly, you earn more money. Secondly, you drive away the penny-pinchers who are almost always the most demanding customers – if they buy from you at all.

Raising your prices will increase your profits by far more than you might expect. Let’s say it costs you 80 pence to make the item you sell for £1. That’s 20p profit per item. Increase your price by twenty percent, to £1.20, and your profit will double, to 40p.

If your costs are less, for example if you provide a service and sell your time and expertise rather than physical items, the benefit of a twenty percent price rise will be less marked. However, the benefit of a big, bold price increase will be even more marked, because penny-pinching tyre kickers are much more annoying when you’re trying to work with and among them. Nothing is more certain to drive them elsewhere (to your ‘competitors’) than higher prices.

How much should you increase your prices? Well, you could look at what everyone in your industry charges and take the average. But that could be disastrous, because it’s likely that most people in your industry don’t charge premium prices. And that means you’ll be working for less than you could and almost certainly for much less than you want to.

What’s more, you’ll be dealing with the penny pinchers who are shopping around for a cheap service rather than a good one. You really don’t want to be doing that.

So, a better place to start when you set your prices is to decide how much you are willing to work for. Then decide how will you give that much value to each unit of your time. Position yourself as an expert, a professional and someone who discerning customers can trust.

In the end, premium pricing isn’t just about filling your own pockets. It’s also about providing a better service that justifies and reflects your higher prices. Therefore, outstanding service and premium prices are two sides of the same coin. By working with or for fewer customers you can deliver more for each one. By charging more for what you do you are able to work fewer hours overall and only with the customers you choose.

Someone will always undercut you, however little you charge. Let them. You’ll be surprised how little price matters to a customer looking for a good product or service.

Try raising your prices tomorrow. What’s the worst that could happen?