Heat Mapping Tools

Quick and Easy Guide to Designing a High-Converting Website

(Image Source) Pixabay with permission

Nowadays, countless guides on the internet try to persuade you how easy it is to build a successful website from scratch.

While it’s true that anyone can get a decent-looking site live with the right tools, it’s still not easy for the online community to separate good web designers.

Remember, an experienced web developer knows to have a user-oriented approach when designing websites.

It’s not just about fancy visual effects, animations, and so on — it’s about creating an experience that compels users to take a specific action.

In this post, we’ll drill down into the tools which are the bedrock fundamentals for creating a high-converting website and how to utilise them yourself. (Image Source)

Let’s get started.

1. Start with the Right Platform

When it comes to developing websites, first you must choose a platform that can help you attain your goals.

Content management systems, e-commerce platforms, DIY site builders — each type of software has something unique to offer. And when commissioning a web developer, you can’t take this decision for granted.  It’s important you know and understand the differences and positives & negatives of each option.

Here is a brief explanation of each tool and their strengths:

Content Management Systems:

A flexible platform designed to help you edit, manage, and publish online content.

Wordpress plugins

WordPress plugins

CMS also give developers complete control over the website’s appearance — typically providing pre-made themes to work with.

WordPress is, by a clear mile, the most popular CMS ever. On top of the easy-to-use interface and countless themes to choose from, it also includes a massive plugin library for expandability and functionality – from newsletter subscription forms s to SEO.

E-Commerce Platforms

Shopify ecommerce

Shopify ecommerce

If your main goal is to sell product, you need to check out e-commerce platforms that consolidate everything you’ll need in one place.

For example, Shopify is becoming the go-to e-commerce platform that has all-in-one service including web hosting, online store themes, and integrations with services — from payment gateways to social sharing buttons. It also supports drop shipping apps like Oberlo and BigBuy, which enables shops to launch with a low overhead – but they do charge monthly fees.

Squarespace templates

Squarespace templates

DIY Site Builder Tools

It’s sometimes difficult to understand the difference between a content management system and a DIY site builder. The fact that both also support e-commerce functionalities don’t help, either.

What you need to remember is that site builders like Squarespace and Wix have limited customisability and capabilities, especially if you want modifications in your website’s source code. They do, however, make up for it with the wide selection of themes that hit the spot between pleasant appearance and user-friendliness.

 

2. Optimise Your Website’s Performance

Going back to being user-oriented, your website’s loading speed is one of the user experience factors that can single-handedly kill your search, traffic and conversions.

According to Google, 53% of users abandon a mobile website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. This number is reduced to only 40% for desktop sites, but you’ll still be missing out on a huge visitor stream.

This begs the question, how can you make your website load as fast as possible?

The answer, of course, varies. What you can do is to run an analysis through Google PageSpeed Insights to identify the exact issues that affect your website’s loading speed.

PageSpeed Insights work by providing optimisation suggestions that are specifically tailored to your website’s needs. It is a highly effective tool if you want to optimise your website’s loading times and maximise conversions by retaining more traffic.

To give you an idea of what to expect, below are some of the typical suggestions for your website’s loading speed:

  • Use Lossless Image Compression
    If you have a lot of visual content on your site, use a lossless compression tool like Compressor.io or Smush to reduce their size without compromising quality.
  • Consider a Content Delivery Network
    A surefire way to see significant performance gains on your website is to use a Content Delivery Network or CDN. Basically, it’s a network of servers that are strategically distributed across multiple locations to keep loading times consistent for all users — regardless of where they are in the world.
  • Minimise Your Code
    A handy tool like MinifyCode.com can further increase your website’s performance by removing excess characters, such as white spaces, line breaks, and comments, from codes. This can result in noticeable improvements, especially if you offer a lot of dynamic content and interactive elements on your website.

3. KISS (keeping it simple)

Remember, web pages are instruments that help users achieve a specific goal.  By being aligned with what the audience wants to do, web developers can accurately determine which page elements should be included or removed.

Do you need a prominent call to action? Are you sure banner ads aren’t pulling traffic away from your site?

Accomplished marketers like Neil Patel understand this fully, which is why you can observe the KISS principle at play in their websites.

 

 

 

 

 

(Image Source: Neil Patel)

It’s not rocket science: the fewer distractions presented to your audience, the faster they’ll buy into your value propositions. Apart from branding elements and navigation menus, try to avoid adding anything that contributes little to the user’s journey towards your desired action or goal.  That’s why landing pages often have menus removed.

4. Keep Fine-Tuning

Even veteran web developers find it hard to unlock the maximum conversion

Google Analytics traffic Funnel

Google Analytics traffic Funnel

potential of any given site instantly — let alone do it on their first try.

Heat Mapping Tools

Heat Mapping Tools

Your best bet is to launch your website, boot up some performance monitoring software, and let the numbers show you the way forward for refinements.

The usual route is to integrate Google Analytics to start monitoring key performance metrics, such as web traffic, bounce rate, session duration, and e-commerce transactions. It can also help you identify your best content as well as pinpoint the “drop-off” points where you lose most of your audience.

If you want, you can also slice through the number-crunching and visually monitor how most users interact with your site. You can do this with the help of a heat mapping tool, like Crazy Egg, Sumo or Hotjar.

 

Conclusion

Conversion rate optimisation is a learning experience that requires your direct involvement and regular updates.

The tips above should be more than enough to put you on a more profitable pathway.

Care to share a couple more tips on how to develop conversion-ready websites? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Creative Marketing: How To Get Your Company Noticed In 2018

Trends are indicative of what is popular and selling well. If you want to transform your business, regardless of size or industry, you need to be aware of these trends and then implement them as effectively as you can. Creative marketing encompasses both the creative and the marketing world, and often to great effect. Exciting and attractive marketing is powerful and effective, and strong visuals play a significant role in how well a product is recognized and consumed. Creative marketing is the genius behind getting a product noticed and sold, so using it well only stands to benefit you. Clever and sophisticated creative marketing could give way to the exponential business enhancement and increased revenue you’ve been dreaming of. Below we explore the various marketing avenues available in today’s modern world.

VR Advertising 

Virtual reality has made it into the mainstream after being something only seen in science fiction films. Now, it is becoming increasingly popular and accessible. This style of advertising is appealing across the board and not only because it intrigues the most inquisitive of individuals seeking a view into something otherworldly. The digital age is well and truly upon us, and using digital advances to create powerful visuals is, of course, going to help you transform your business. Virtual reality is truly taking off, and harnessing its power correctly could transform your business into an up-and-coming company recognized for using trendy technological advances.

TOMS

Toms Shoes use VR

Example: TOMS is one brand who used virtual reality extremely well within their campaign. They took users to a remote village in Peru, and each user experienced immersive storytelling, which was both incredibly emotional and moving. This VR advertising experience managed to convey to the audience the impact TOMS charitable donation policy has for children around the world. The founder of TOMS, Blake Mycoskie, has, in fact, said that virtual reality would be, going forward, a key part of their communications strategy.

Be Ready For Growth

If you want your business to grow and get noticed, then you need to begin implementing new designs. If you’re able to use trends such as VR advertising to the best of its capabilities, then expect growth and increased success and conversion. Before you get here, however, you will need to ensure your business is prepared for this expansion. Think about getting technology in place to account for this boost. Consider employing the assistance of a good HR management, a strong customer relationship management (CRM) suite, and creating an effective email service you can rely on.

Activision

Activision

Example: Activision, the leading publisher in the video game market in America, uses the clever CRM marketing platform Marketing Cloud to monitor social media conversations which are relevant to their own products. By doing so, the brand can interact and engage with consumers at a fraction of the expense. It is estimated that using social media as your customer service method saves on average 25% from the expenses you’d use for customer service operators. For a business beginning to their mark, this is valuable resources available to put into other marketing strategies.

Visual Merchandising

Visual marketing involves strategy, and the ability to make informed decisions about what an audience wants to see and feel. Visual content needs to be polished, slick and sleek. Visual merchandising is a powerful tool to harness to communicate your brand or business, using attractive signals to draw in potential customers. Visual merchandising displays its content simply and boldly and maintains the attention of the viewer. It’s a method of trying to get people to buy through means of seeing how a product can make their life easier and more enjoyable. Persuasion is by no means an easy feat, however creative marketing’s job is to persuade an audience that the product they see advertised is beneficial to them and will serve them in some advantageous way.

Kate Spade Valentines

Kate Spade Valentines

Example: Kate Spade’s beautiful blooming flowers theme for their Valentine’s Day merchandising theme made a statement within their store for all the right reasons. Flowers have a calming, relaxing effect, which undoubtedly retailers want to emulate in their stores to promote happy shopping. In addition to the sense of calm, the fresh, inviting scent will welcome customers to the store and add a touch of luxury to make every single visitor feel special and want to spend time inside the shop. Happily, this can work to retain loyal customers.

Personalise Everything

 Marketers and brand managers alike will be well aware of the use of personalization within marketing campaigns. Perhaps the emails to your customers already feature their names in the subject line. However, this trend ensures that every single customer feels valued and listened to, each time they receive notification from your company. Personalization is now referring to the experience each customer (and potential customer) has when they land on your website. If done right, it’s the ideal tool for building upsell opportunities and boosting revenue with the handy use of data compiled through analytics.

Coca Cola personalisation

Coca-Cola personalisation

Example: One of the most famous examples of personalisation being used within a marketing campaign is undoubtedly Coca-Cola’s 2012 ‘Share A Coke’ campaign. Launched in Australia, this clever strategy involved the ever-popular drinks featuring consumer names on the logo, ranging from Rebecca and Ben to Elvis and Mandeep. It sparked a social media frenzy where customers eagerly tried to find their names on bottles and the campaign itself encouraged people to share the drink with their friends. Coca-Cola’s campaign taught marketers that personalised campaigns work extremely well when they are engaging and fun.

Mobile-Friendly Content

For any brand to attract as many viewers as possible, content should be accessible across different platforms from different devices. Many people use their mobile or small tablet device to roam the web, so content needs to be mobile friendly otherwise many users are simply not being reached. Vital revenue is being missed if a site cannot be successfully accessed. It’s glaringly obvious when a site isn’t compatible with mobile phones, as it’s cumbersome to use and half of the content is scrawled awkwardly across the screen. This is merely an inconvenience, and at worst, the content is downright impossible to decipher.

Lancôme

Lancôme

Example: Luxury cosmetics company, Lancôme, is one such example of a brand using mobile ads to their advantage. When they launched their new product, Advanced Genifque, they also launched a mobile ad campaign which targeted their key consumers – women. Users who clicked on the ad would then be directed to an animated, interactive video which showed them what the product was about and how they use it. A case study determined the success of this campaign was due to the time slots when the apps displayed the ad, the mobile devices used to access the ads and the apps chosen to host it.

As the world evolves and adapts to ever-changing technology, so must the marketing world. The increase in mobile technology means consumers are expecting more from their favorite brands, and they want to be simply wowed by everything a company brings to the table. Therefore, to truly make your mark and get noticed in 2018, take note of the above suggestions and how globally renown brands get themselves noticed, for all the right reasons.

How to Migrate to Digital Marketing

Migrating to digital marketing from traditional marketing is a question I get asked frequently.  Giving a talk to the Te Atatu Business Association, I was able to showcase both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) examples of ways to work out these things

  1. Where to start your digital marketing
  2. Which marketing methods will work best for your business
  3. What communications will work best for your clients and customers

The resources on the last slide are worthwhile saving / bookmarking.  They relate to directory listings and tips for local marketing.

blair enns free seminar

Stop Giving The Client What They Want

by Blair Enns host of Pricing Creativity, a webinar on 24th May 2018blair enns free seminar

If I’d asked my customers what they wanted they would have said ‘A faster horse.’”

-Henry Ford

A mainstay of some agency new business conferences is a few highly coveted clients on the stage lecturing the agency audience on what they want from their agency partners that they’re not getting. While it would be foolish to dismiss these client entreaties out of hand, it would be just as foolish, I believe, to give them what they want.

Taking a cue from Henry Ford’s playbook, Steve Jobs famously said, “How will my customers know what they want if I haven’t showed it to them, yet?” It sounds like arrogant bluster, but he believed it and he was right.

I don’t have to cite the multiple studies that have proved human beings are terrible predictors of what they will like, I only have to ask you to recall that situation where you thought you won the pitch, because in the client’s words, “You ticked all the boxes”, only to lose out to a competitor who ignored the client’s checklist and proposed something radically different. We all know of examples of this and most of us have had it happen to us, whether we were the burned compliant rule follower or the one who challenged the client’s own ideas of what they wanted.

A friend who is undertaking a massive home renovation recently told me a story of briefing two architects on the job. Both he and his wife presented a detailed list of everything they wanted in the newly renovated home. The first architect came back with a design that ticked every box. My friends, the clients, were delighted. They didn’t think they could possibly get everything they had asked for. But the second architect essentially ignored the brief and did what he thought was best for the building. The design was radical. I think my friend used the word “shocking.” They took a couple of weeks to think about it and then went with the radical design, which not only didn’t check many boxes on their list but “scared” them and was 20% more expensive. That’s right, they paid a 20% premium for a scary solution that defied the brief.

This happens all the time. The lesson we take from it is not that we should never give the client what they want, but that often, when the client is constructing the brief on their own, they leave out things they haven’t considered or with which they have no previous experience. Those clients on stage telling agencies what they want are building those lists from their pasts. Most of their wants are about avoiding repeats of previous disasters. By indulging them the best you will do is “check all the boxes”. But who really wants to go through life just checking all the boxes? Not me, not you, and not even your clients.

Make Challenging The Client Your Competitive Advantage

In large, multi-layered firms, and in particular those where ownership is separated from management, the appetite to really challenge the client isn’t there. There may be one maverick in the firm keen on it or perhaps even two, but off to the side and in the layers above there is always at least one person who sees their role as “don’t screw this up”. So that’s the approach the agency ends up taking on the opportunity: let’s give the client what they asked for and not screw this up. That is a key difference in the culture of an entrepreneurial firm–and I mean that in the literal sense that the firm is run by an entrepreneur who not only has skin in the game but may have all their net worth tied up in it–and a firm run by managers who report to other managers who report to parent companies who report to holding companies who report to investors. The first has the authority and risk profile to challenge the client’s idea of what they want and the other has neither.

If you’re in the latter group and you find yourself competing against firms in the former and you are not pushing back, deciding what is best for the client in spite of how you’ve been briefed, then you are failing to leverage one of your most significant competitive advantages.

And it’s not just the big boys and girls that fail to push back and routinely give the client what they want. Many entrepreneurial firms behave this way too, for reasons of personality, “politeness” or poor training.

 

Start your pricing creativity training on May 24th by joining Blair at a Pricing Creativity Webinar – free to attend.  Register your interest now.

 

Is it a Smart Idea to Buy More Than One Domain Name?

If you are planning to go into business for yourself, you need to be on the web. Just as the company you worked for until recently has their site on the web, you need to establish your own. By doing so, you will put yourself in a position to reach a potential audience that numbers in the hundreds of millions. The sooner you do so, the sooner you can begin to tap into this enormous wellspring of potential profit.

Why Do You Need to Buy a Domain Name for Your Business?

The reason you need to buy a domain name for your business is to give yourself a home on the web. This is the name that visitors will punch into their search bar in order to find your site. It’s the name you will do business under.

Should You Buy More Than One Domain Name for Your Business?

Now that you know why you need to buy a domain name for your business, a new question arises. Is there a reason why you may need to consider buying more than one? This is an interesting question that raises a number of points. For example, are you going to be operating in a crowded arena where many businesses are competing in a cutthroat manner? If this is the case, there’s a reason you may need more than one domain name.

A rival business may attempt to crowd you off the web by buying a number of domain names that are similar to your own business. They may try to make use of these names by causing them to redirect to their own websites. Another way they may try to hurt you is by buying up several “independent” sites that are set up for the sole purpose of mocking and maligning your business.

The way to short circuit these attempts is to outwit your competitors in both areas.

  1. You can buy up a number of names that are similar to the name of your own domain such as common mis-spellings, different domain extensions and have them redirect to your main website.
  2. You can also buy up a number of ” X business stinks” and “Z business offers lousy service” domains to keep your rivals from using them to cause you grief. [Note this tactic could backfire and make you look foolish and so it’s not advised by ethical digital marketers.]
  3. The high quality, preferred solution to “outwitting competitors” is to put top quality content and advice on your blog, use content marketing and provide excellent customer service supported by testimonials and social proof, just like we do on this website!

Where Can You Go to Buy a Domain Name for Your New Business?

There are a number of reputable and professional domain hosting service providers that you can turn to when it comes time to buy domain names for your new business. The more you are able to buy, the better able you will be to shore up support for your new business while heading off any attempts by your competitors to harm you.

Simple Ways To Save Time And Money When Running Your Website

Running a website can be costly, regarding both time and money. That’s why it pays to use every avenue available to make the process easier. We have some simple ways to help keep costs down and make sure that running a website does take over your life (unless you want it to).

Get A $5 Logo

If you’re just beginning your website, then you are going to need a logo. What’s great is that you can have one done for as little as $5. If you take a look at fiverr.com, you will see many professional designers offering their services.

It’s recommended that you select around three different designers whose work you like. Send them all the same brief, and you can then choose the design that you like the most. This could costs you as little as $15. However, designers often offer upgrades and other deals that may cost more. If you want your logo’s source file (so that you can edit it yourself), then you will likely have to pay a bit more. Regardless, you will still be getting a bargain.

Outsource Work

Outsourcing work can help save you a lot of time, and it can also be very cost effective. If you need site upgrades, blog articles, videos, or anything else, you will find that there are freelancers to meet your needs. The major platforms to hire from include Upwork.com and Freelancer.com.

Imagine you need an article written on a topic that you know nothing about. You could struggle away for hours doing research and trying to write it yourself. However, you need to consider what your time’s worth. It may be more worthwhile to pay someone who knows the topic to write it for you.

Aim For Quality Over Quantity

If you’re trying to pump out a new post every day, then you may be overdoing it. To save time while not focus on quality over quantity. One high-quality post each week is better than seven sub-par posts.

Streamline Your Email Processes

You don’t want to be bogged down dealing with emails. Make sure you have strong spam filters on your account to get rid of the junk. You may also want to consider using Hostgator Webmail because of its effectiveness.

Consider The Time Commitment For Learning New Skills

If you want to make major modifications to your site and are considering learning HTML and PHP, then you may want to consider the time commitment. You may have to spend many hours to develop basic knowledge. It’s important to consider how much your time is really worth. You might find that it’s much more cost-effective and time-effective to hire someone to do the work for you.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, your website starts to (or continues to) be successful. Just remember, you want to make it as efficient as possible. Streaming processes, outsourcing work, and even taking some nifty shortcuts will allow you to maximize results while minimizing your time and financial commitment.

3 Technologies That Will Transform Your Business Marketing by 2020

The year 2020 was once the ideal setting for futuristic sci-fi movies, but now it’s just around the corner. As the world gets closer to a new era, people have to brace themselves for the changes technology is going to effect on the business world. In fact, your customers will often drive technology you adopt in your business.

Technology is the vehicle businesses use to understand customer pain points and expectations in a bid to create meaningful relationships that build customer loyalty. If your company can genuinely nail customer experience, you’ll realize that your younger consumers are more brand loyal than all other generations. All this requires your IT department to power these top three technologies for next-generation customer experience.

  1. Cloud Computing

Advanced security capabilities today at application, network, and infrastructure levels make cloud infrastructure more secure than your on-premises apps. In fact, 80% of IT budgets are committed to cloud solutions. Cloud computing offers you more visibility into what your users are doing.

Regarding marketing, cloud computing helps improve customer service across different channels. Additionally, cloud computing also provides an easy way of collecting business analytics, so marketing teams understand the purchasing decision-making process.

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

AI is now in just about everything you do. You check the weather reports via Google Home, start your car, and the Waze app predicts the fastest route to the office, and you shop on Amazon relying on product recommendations based on your past purchases. At the end of the day, Netflix suggests what you should be watching next.

AI is becoming a standard in customer expectations, in place of just offering a convenience, which is why IT leaders are making it a top priority. Debates like Bamboo vs TeamCity are driving AI use cases all over the business world. In fact, prepare yourself for an era where AI will automatically recommend products to your customers based on preferences.

Fortunately, you can use AI-powered content curation technology to engage your web visitors by showing content that’s relevant to them. Also, a business that nails voice search in future SEO strategies will gain lots of organic traffic. This is thanks to increased search traffic driven by major players like Apple, Amazon, and Google.

  1. Customer-Centric Mobile Technology

The business world today can be explained by a single phrase “mobile first.” This is why you will rarely find a customer’s first interaction with a business taking place outside of the mobile or the web. In fact, more than 50% of consumers are more than ready to switch from brands that do not provide easy to use mobile experiences.

Plus, mobile phones have become productivity tools. You can run your business via a telephone. Moreover, both your employees and customers have higher expectations from their mobile experiences in regards to user experience, performance, and accessibility to real-time data.

Your customers and employees want to see the hottest leads in real time, get real-time notifications, and gain the ability to work on docs and submit approvals without opening a computer. These are not just initial questions; they are expectations! Even more reason why your business should offer fully functional apps that are focused on the user and delivering a truly engaging experience.

Start Now

It’s up to businesses and IT to offer end users powerful cloud computing, AI, and customer-centered technology. To deliver, you need to prioritize your resources and offload some of the burden by shifting to a low-code, cloud-based platform. This will make your work easier while serving your employees and customers with a more predictive and personalized experience that meets heightened expectations.

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