Featured on the 302 Temp Redirect show

Thanks to Glenn Marvin of Konnector who interviewed me on his 302 Temporary Redirect Show (that’s a geek joke – a website has a 302 error code…. ).

 

5 key activities for B2B Marketing

During the show Glenn asked me what my “always on” fundamental B2B marketing activities are.  If you want to listen it’s at 18:25 through to 20:24.

  1. Database of clients, suspects and prospects.  Regularly updated.
  2. Regular communications to your database
  3. Trade shows and local in person meetups
  4. LinkedIn to recognise the names of people in your industry – and LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  5. Speaking at conferences, events and being a PR spokesperson for your trade magazine.
Blair Enns, Author, Pricing creativity

Hacking the Value Conversation

 

Blair Enns, Author of Pricing Creativity Book

Blair Enns, Author of Pricing Creativity Book

By Blair Enns, Pricing Creativity Webinar Host – May 2018, details here.

The value conversation is where value pricing theory goes to die. The difficulty in mastering this conversation is what causes most people to give up on value-based pricing completely and revert back to selling time and materials. It needn’t be so difficult, though.

There’s a hack to the value conversation that a successful former client of mine pointed out after reading the manuscript of Pricing Creativity: A Guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour. When he explained it to me over dinner I thought, “This is brilliant. I should put it in the book.” In the end, I didn’t include the hack because I feel strongly that mastering the value conversation is one of the most valuable skills in all of business – a skill that can transform careers and businesses. So, while encouraging you to learn that skill, I’ll now give you the shortcut. But first, some context.

Perhaps the Most Valuable Skill in Business

There are three tiers of financial success in a creative firm that I can correlate to pricing strategies. The lowest tier of true financial success is occupied by the efficient cost-based pricers – those firms that bill as many of the available hours as possible. An efficient firm might bill around $200k in adjusted gross income (AGI) per full-time equivalent employee (FTE), whereas the average cost-based firm might bill around $140k in AGI per FTE.

The next tier of success is where you find the value-based pricers – those who charge based on the value to the client and not based on their costs or inputs of time and materials. These firms escape the limits imposed by the pursuit of efficiencies, moving their AGI/FTE number north of $200k, into $250k and maybe even the $300k range.

The very highest tier of financial success, however, is reserved for those value-based pricers who master the value conversation. These firms can push into the $400k range and beyond, with no real theoretical limit. A well-facilitated value conversation not only has a profound effect on the income of the firm, it creates more value for the client and it is a thing of beauty to behold. I consider it to be one of the most valuable – perhaps the most valuable – skill in all of business.

The Value Conversation Framework

Here’s the simple four-step framework for facilitating the value conversation:

  1. Confirm the client’s desired future state (What do you want?)
  2. Agree on the metrics of success (How will we know we have achieved these things?)
  3. Uncover the value that would be created by hitting these metrics (What’s this worth?)
  4. Offer pricing guidance (I’m going to bring you a range of solutions in the $Y to $X range.)

There’s lots of nuance around the “how” of each of the four steps above, but it’s really that straightforward. You’ll notice that by the end of the value conversation you haven’t even begun to think about solutions. Your entire focus is on the client: what they want, how you’ll measure their success, how much value you might create for them, and finally, some initial ideas on what you might charge for helping to create such value. After this conversation, you retreat to think about costs and solutions, building and pricing your proposal accordingly, while following the rules set out in Pricing Creativity.

The Reality: Few Get There

So, why are there so few firms mastering what seems like a simple conversation and moving to the highest tier of financial success?

The reasons are many:

  • This mastery is a sales skill and not a pricing skill
  • It requires you to be selling from the expert practitioner position and not the vendor position
  • It’s tactical knowledge acquired from doing, not implicit knowledge acquired from reading or listening
  • It requires you to be talking to client-side executives charged with value creation and not middle managers charged with managing a project or budget
  • The first few conversations can be awkward, and few push through the awkwardness to get to the incredible riches on the other side

All of these reasons and more make a value conversation hack so valuable. So here it is…

The Hack

Early in Pricing Creativity, I tell the story of the first time I saw a one-page proposal based on value rather than inputs. It was the principal of that firm that I found myself having dinner with while the book was in pre-production. Commenting on the manuscript he said, “You left out my hack!” What did he mean, I asked? He replied that he never mastered the value conversation. (Chapter 9: Master the Value Conversation – to me, perhaps the most important chapter in the book.)

Instead, early on in the sale – much earlier than I would advocate – he would put a one-page proposal on the table with three options. But he didn’t view this proposal as the final one. In fact, he said that the initial proposal was never the final one. It was only there to serve as a catalyst for discussion over what the client really valued. The hack, according to my client, was to put at the bottom of each option, “Choose this option if X is important to you.” X might be speed to market, customer service, low risk, knowledge transfer or anything else. He would then ask the client, “Which one of these options is the most appealing to you?” The client would point to one, and in doing so, reveal what he most valued. This would direct the conversation. “Ahhh, so educating your team as we develop the product (or programme) is something important to you?”

In this way, the early proposal led to a more targeted value conversation in which the client and the firm could talk through specific value drivers that the client had revealed by simply pointing to an option, all while framed by the context of the initial prices. The discussion would result in the firm coming back with another proposal more specifically targeted to what the client most valued.

To Hack or To Hold Firm?

As someone who values rule-breaking as much as I do rule-making, I love this hack while I simultaneously worry about sharing it with you. There is no substitute for mastering the value conversation. I’ll repeat that I believe it might be the most valuable skill in all of business, but I also know that the size of the gap between those who understand value pricing and those who truly implement it is problematically large, especially in the creative professions.

As I craft this parting advice I find myself wondering what I would do if I were in your shoes (Win Without Pitching is a productised service business – we don’t value price the way a customised service firm like yours should) and I don’t think I would deviate from proper sales process and a good value conversation. But not all value conversations are good and easy, especially in the beginning. And like all good hacks, I would keep this in my back pocket for those situations where I saw that an elegant theory was clashing with my harsh reality.

So use at your discretion. If you do try it, I’d be interested in hearing how you make out.

Pricing Creativity Webinar Registration Details

Pricing Creativity Webinar Registration Details

 

What the F(acebook)?!

WTF? That’s likely a thought running through many people’s minds as they hear that Facebook has just announced one of the biggest changes to the social media platform – ever.

With over 2.13 billion active users each month, there’s no doubt that this news has made a groundbreaking difference in the way that people and businesses use Facebook.

What’s the big news and what can we do about it? Below, we uncover what these changes are, how they will impact the way businesses use Facebook, and give suggestions on how you can adapt your Facebook strategy by creating meaningful content.

We will also share details of a seminar on how to stay up to date with the most popular social media platforms and their ever-changing algorithms.

So what’s changed on Facebook?

Algorithms, that’s what. Complex algorithms are what determines your unique experience on Facebook. Your news feed is catered specifically to you – based on what you like, how you interact and even search history from outside of Facebook.

When it comes to using Facebook for business, many strive to create content that resonates with their audience. Competitions, giveaways, new products – these are all important business updates that are shared on Facebook everyday. Techcrunch reports that there are over 50 million small businesses that use Facebook’s Pages app. For many companies, Facebook is one of their key business assets.

However, Facebook has made some drastic changes that will affect business pages on the platform. On January 11th, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook announced algorithm changes that may indicate the start of what Michael Stelzner calls a “Facebook apocalypse”:

  • Personal posts from friends and family will have preferences over posts from groups or pages in your news feed
  • Videos will get less views – this is because video is content consumed passively
  • Focus will be on meaningful social interactions, so comments will be valued more than likes
  • Links to external pages will get less visibility

Source: https://blog.bufferapp.com/facebook-algorithm

As you can see, this is possibly one of the biggest changes that Facebook has ever made to the platform. Zuckerberg himself has even stated that he expects the market price will drop due to these changes. On the one hand, it appears that these changes are purely to improve user experience. But, it can also be debated that these changes are a move to encourage more businesses to turn to paid Facebook advertising to get the traffic they want. And, it’s highly anticipated that Facebook advertising costs will increase following the surge in advertising campaigns.

What does this mean for businesses?

These algorithm changes will start with your news feed, but this is only the beginning. Likely, it will be an update rolled out across all Facebook products.

For businesses, there are a few changes that will invariably happen – something to take into consideration when adapting your marketing strategy to adopt this algorithm change.

For pages that thrive on short, viral videos (think LADbible), they’re likely to be affected the most. Bloggers will also see a hit in organic reach, as will pages that exist purely to share memes, quotes and ‘tag-worthy’ photos.

How to create meaningful content on Facebook

These changes all hold one key goal in mind: to promote meaningful interactions. It’s more than just getting your audience to tag their friends or liking a picture. Meaningful, by Facebook terms, involves interacting with friends, family and other users in insightful conversations.

Here is what will no longer work:

  • Asking people to comment
  • Short text posts
  • Quote graphics
  • Videos

Basically, posts that exist purely to gather likes will be phased out from your news feed.

What can you do to create meaningful content?

  • See first – prompt your audience to change their news feed preferences to see your page’s content first
  • Post less frequently, but with more relevant content
  • Start discussions on your posts that encourage your audience to talk to one another
  • Use Facebook Live to reveal exciting updates and news
  • Adopt a Facebook advertising strategy

This all seems fairly straightforward, but as Facebook continues to make these changes to more than just your news feed, it will be more important than ever to understand these each and every one of these variables that will be affected.

Ultimately, your audience on Facebook isn’t yours – it’s purely borrowed from Facebook. And now that Facebook has set the ball rolling, who is to say other social platforms such as Instagram and Twitter won’t follow suit?

Stay up to date with social media changes

We have a seminar coming up that will cover Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even Snapchat. There will be an insightful analysis on the algorithms that prioritise content, and what you can do to stay ahead of the crowd when it comes to creating meaningful content.

Click the button below to secure a ticket.

Event info:
WTF Happened to your Social Media Traffic?

Date: Wednesday 18th April, 2018, 7:30am – 9am
Where: Ponsonby Community Centre, Glue Pot room – 20 Ponsonby Terrace
Cost: $30

BOOK NOW
 

Business Accelerators in New Zealand

In doing market validation research for a client, we researched the Business Accelerators who are best known in New Zealand.  Since I couldn’t find a place where they are all listed, I thought I’d create one.  [We did this before for Youth Entrepreneur Organisations in New Zealand].

The Mums Garage group have pulled together a pretty comprehensive “Startup Ecosystem Map” list which goes from pre-seed investment upwards including regional connections – highly recommend as they encourage you to submit additional resources not yet on the list.

Check out these as a starting point for your own individual needs.  And please use the comments to add others to the list.