Apple’s slogan, Think Different, was a game-changer for the computer industry when it appeared on television commercials and magazine pages in 1997. Apple set itself apart by making the purchasing decision personal. The Think Different campaign was attractive because it referenced other well-known people such as Einstein, John Lennon and Martin Luther King and it made you feel like you could be part of that club by buying Apples. Plus, it made Apple a luxury symbol. Apple has never come out with a budget laptop, because the brand is based on the notion that Apple users can afford to buy the highest-end products.

But it’s hard to “think different” when you’re doing the same things every day, which is a challenge that many people who own their own business face. Shake yourself up by teaching yourself how to think different. Some people do this by hiring a coach or consultant, and this can certainly be effective.

You may consider bringing your staff together for an open-minded meeting. The people who do the same jobs everyday will most definitely have ideas for how they could get things done in a different way.

You may find yourself saying to yourself or your staff things like, “Let’s just do it that way because we know it works.” This is the same as saying, “I don’t like where this path is leading me but I’m going to stay on this path just because I’m already on it.” If you were making any other decision–actually literally on a hiking path, in line for a food cart pod and you changed your mind about what you wanted, or buying shoes–would you stick with the decision you already made simply because you had already made one? No, most people would not! So give yourself the same freedom in your business. Learn how to do things differently, or at least, how to see that there might be a different way to think or act, and see where that goes. 

Examining how you price your products and services can go a long way toward increasing your bottom line without much effort on your part.

There’s a distinct psychology to pricing that takes into account what people perceive as a good deal, even when there are better deals to be had. You can also use this trick to make a “value” package of your products or services. Do this by combining a slow-moving product or service with one that gets a lot of attention.

Certain prices, and comparisons of certain prices, have more psychological impact than others. Retailers have long known that prices ending in the digit 9 are perceived by the brain as cheaper, even though it’s only cheaper by one penny. For instance, $2.99 is perceived as closer to $2 than closer to $3, even though that penny barely makes a difference.

In an experiment conducted by the University of Chicago and MIT, prices for women’s clothing were set for $34, $39 and $44. To the amazement of the researchers, the items sold best at $39 even though that price was more expensive than other options.

Comparison pricing works well when customers feel they are choosing between a cheaper product and a more expensive, but similar, product. An example of this is well-illustrated by a famous case study involving the company Williams-Sonoma’s bread machine. They introduced a $275 bread machine, which almost no one purchased. Then they introduced a $415 model and, amazingly, the $275 model started selling well. People thought they were getting a “deal” because it was similar to the more expensive mode but cheaper.

So, think about how you can combine your products or service packages into comparison groups with the goal of having the customer pick the one you really want them to pick . . . the one with the higher profit margin. If you have a small and a medium package, add a large package. Some will choose the large package, but many more will choose the medium package, which is where you’ve bundled your most profit-generating items.

Most for-sale services can benefit from this principal…customers like to buy more than one of a thing when they find something they like and believe in. And it really doesn’t matter what you sell . . . haircuts, cold-pressed coffee, carpet cleaning or dog walking. When your customers are making their decisions, give them the option to buy more than one at a time.

You can offer haircuts every two months, daily coffee delivery, quarterly carpet cleaning or dog walking whenever they need it. It’s why the “subscription of the month” clubs and the weekly meal delivery services are so popular right now.

Give them a discount or a bonus of some kind if they make a long-term commitment to you. Your customer no longer has to think about where they are going to go for that service six months from now, because they’ve already chosen you. You no longer have to worry about how many customers you will have six months from now.

Most people are turning to Facebook advertising these days. Nothing wrong with that. But when you’re in a service business, sometimes a local, face-to-face approach might work out in your favor. Most grocery stores print coupons on the back of their receipts for other businesses that have nothing to do with food…guy a loaf of bread and you get a coupon for an oil change. Consider what you could do if you found a complementary business to advertise with or work with.

For example, a gym or spa might have a corkboard holding the business cards of other health service providers they feel good about recommending. Could you get to know them and add your card to the list? Could you get them to add an item in their next newsletter that new gym members get 10% off your services as well?

If they advertise in print, could you split the cost with them and add your offer to the promotion?

Think of the way that wedding planning services work…planners and publications often offer “package deals” where the bride orders catering, flowers, a cake, tailoring services and photography from one vendor. What would happen if you found a network that complemented your niche and began promoting yourself that way? If the opportunity doesn’t exist, would you be willing to put the hard work into creating it?

Photo by on Unsplash

Research shows that people make purchasing decisions based on their emotions.

Based on this knowledge, a large part of what motivates consumer purchases is trust. Whether you’re a dentist, a health coach or a website developer, people first want to know that they can trust YOU. Then they’ll consider whether they can trust your services. And if they can trust you? Then you’ve practically already sold them on your services.

Present yourself as a real, trustworthy and approachable human being by including your photo on all of your marketing material, in print and online. People want to associate a real, breathing person with the things that they buy.

I’ve fielded a few phone calls now to our agency from people who have told me that they just wanted to see if someone answers the phone.

First, sell you. Then, sell your products or services.

If you own a hair salon and a competitor opens up, not only near you but with cheaper haircuts, it could be tempting to see that as a negative that you can’t overcome. But think again.

If all of their signage advertises $10 haircuts, your signage can be the one that advertises, “We FIX $10 haircuts.”

What else has negative sides that can be put to advantage? Here’s some…
1. Cost, expense.
Here’s how you sell that negative: “Yes, it’s expensive, but that’s because I believe it will deliver exactly as advertised.” Or, “Yes, it’s expensive, but let’s look at the ROI you’ll get.”

2. Too complicated.
Here’s how you sell that negative: “It requires some attention to use this. It’s not right for people who want a hands-off approach. This is for people who are willing to put the time in to have a successful outcome.”

3. It doesn’t have this feature I want.
Here’s how to sell that negative: “The features it does have are the best in the industry.”

What negatives relate to what you’re trying to sell?
And here’s the flipside to this…if there’s not an authentic way to sell the negative, then evaluate why you’re so set on keeping things the way they are. Maybe you should be fixing them instead.

No, I’m not talking about that dream they were having when their alarm went off this morning. What I mean is, have you asked them what their life goal is? Why have they hired you? If you’re a service business, you must be helping them in some way. Sure, there are immediate goals. But what do they REALLY want?

We talk a lot here at Build Your Dream Business about how to answer the questions of what YOUR dream is. It’s the name of our business, after all. But if you’re a coach, a consultant, a real estate agent, the owner of a juice cart or a massage therapist, your clients have dreams too.

How can you help them achieve those dreams? By asking them, it tells them that you’re interested and you care. It gives you a chance to adjust what you’re offering them or how you’re relating to them. When you draw out the hopes and dreams of the people you’re trying to serve, you can truly help them. Knowing their true, long-term goals may alter what service you thought you were providing them.

And, depending on the type of service provider you are, if they don’t have a dream, you can choose not to hire them.

Photo by Neil Bates on Unsplash

The quick answer to that question is, more than you probably think. Let’s look at all the ways that you can connect with your customers.

The first way is with your website as a whole. You should have a clear enough idea of who your trying to reach that when they go to your site, your ideal customer immediately knows they are in the right place. Use imagery and language that speaks to them. Understanding who they are and what they are looking for will set you apart.

Another way is when they sign up to join your email list. Sign-ups often get an automatic reply letting the customer know they’ve been subscribed. These emails are typically very easy to customize. Take a moment to test yours out and see if it has the message you want. If it is a boring line of text that just says ‘Thank you, you are now subscribed,’ you can do better.

If the customers completes a purchase, what do they see after the purchase goes through? There are many opportunities for connections when you are tracking your customers the way that we recommend. For instance, if you integrate Facebook ads to your marketing budget, adding a Facebook pixel allows you to create audiences for your ads based on what your customers do.

See this post for more information about segmenting your Facebook ads. But basically, Facebook ads can target people who have ever visited your website (once the pixel is in place), people who visited your Pricing page (this means they were interested but probably not yet convinced to buy), people who abandoned their shopping carts (again, interested but not yet ready), and people who have previously purchased). With some creativity, you can come up with even more audiences based on your specific needs. Following up with each of these unique audiences is a unique way to connect.

Let’s say someone does make a purchase. Do they get a confirmation email? What does it say? If it’s just a boring line of text, make it better and more personal.

Send a follow up email after they’ve had the item for a couple of weeks checking in to see if it’s all they dreamed of. Perhaps ask them for a review. Suggest they take a photo and tag it on Instagram (make sure you follow up and like the post).

All of these are examples of connecting with customers in ways that many businesses don’t think of. But when you break it all down, isn’t it just all about getting personal? You’re giving them opportunities to get to know your business in many ways, and they’re giving you the opportunity to get to know them and exactly what they want.

Somehow I ended up on a spam mailing list. I started getting emails that were obviously spam but seemed harmless. I skimmed the email. At the bottom it said, “To unsubscribe respond to this email with ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line.”

Now, if I had put more than a second’s thought into this before I did just that, I might have realized that this was a ploy to see if I had an active email address. Once he got my response, he knew he had a “live one” so to speak, and now he keeps emailing me. Daily. Multiple times a day.

I keep hitting the spam button to mark it as spam, but Google sends me an automated pop-up message every time: “You are marking this message as spam, but you communicated with this person. Are you sure it’s spam?”

I have to tell Google that yes, it’s really spam. Every time.

This isn’t an anti-spam post. We all know how annoying spam is and no one running a legitimate business would use that tactic. The point is, now I’m in this feedback loop with Google because I sent one email to an email address that now continues to contact me. I have only option a) delete the email, or option b) continue to tell Google that yes, it is spam even though I sent an email to that address.

There’s no option c, where Google might manually review the communication and see that I tried to unsubscribe and then the guy kept emailing me. Or where I might fill out a form explaining what the communication I had with this email was. Or for Google to just trust that the first 10 times I marked this message as spam, I was telling the truth and it really is spam.

So…how easy is it for you to offer an option c? Will you take the time to personally look into what is going on with your customer service issues or complaints? Will you create a way for people to actually get their problems solved instead of just going along in the same path simply because that’s the path you’re on?

Have you ever boosted a post on Facebook and had it rejected? I have, multiple times. Sometimes, it’s because Facebook doesn’t like the picture. Maybe for a health care blog post about abdominal pain I chose a photo of a white woman with a flat stomach. Facebook OK’s the boost only after I change the photo to that of a doctor.

Other times, Facebook tells me I need to focus the post on the company’s products or services rather than on the audience’s characteristics. For instance, on this same health-care blog, focusing a post on pregnancy-related back pain on what the doctors can do (give you advice on back pain) rather than the woman’s needs during pregnancy (pregnancy is a physical characteristic Facebook won’t call attention to).

I’ve now had boosted posts denied, and have gone through the process of appealing them and changing them several times. I argue that what Facebook is doing is the exact opposite of good marketing advice. Here’s why.

How many times have you heard marketers say to “get inside your customer’s heads”? Have you heard people talk about “buyer personas”? This means grouping your target customer based on the characteristics that make them prime targets for your products. Are they parents, beer drinkers, city dwellers, what’s their level of education? Are they men, women, Republicans, Democrats? What kind of car do they drive?

You should be able to pretty well narrow down exactly the type of person you’re trying to reach with a buyer persona. Essentially, creating a buyer persona is dialing down into the Who, What (the problem they have), Why, and How (how your solution solves their problem).

Here at Build Your Dream Business we talk about knowing where customers are on the customer awareness spectrum. This means you know where they are in the process of solving their problems. Do they know they have a problem that you can solve? Are they researching solutions? Are they far enough along that they are comparing your solution to a competitor’s solution? Knowing this is key to being able to market to them with language that directly speaks to where they are in the process and what solution they are looking for.

But even before you place a customer on a spectrum, you need to know who your customer is, and speak to them about problems they need solving. The pregnant woman who has pregnancy-related back pain is exactly who you want to talk to if you are an OB GYN doctor looking for new patients. You’re not trying to reach the non-pregnant woman with back pain. The pregnancy is a characteristic that absolutely affects how you market to her. And unfortunately, Facebook’s codes of advertising conduct prevent you from using language in your post (to boost it) reaching woman based specifically on that characteristic.

That’s why you have to take control of what you can produce on your own site. Write blog posts that speak exactly to your target audience. Create videos that use your target audience in the videos. Create infographics specifically geared to your target audience. Yes, Facebook might not let you boost the post. But sometimes, good marketing is better than Facebook.