Selling the Vision: The Passion Behind the Product

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Selling the Vision: The Passion Behind the Product

In 1948, Richard Stack started Dick’s Bait and Tackle with three hundred dollars borrowed from his grandmother.

As the store expanded into sports and retail, Richard and his son Ed learned many lessons. Ed says one impactful memory came during a moment that tested his father.

One day a little kid walked in the store and wandered over to the baseball section, then grabbed a glove and bolted toward the door. An employee nabbed him as he reached the parking lot and dragged him back inside. The employee was yelling at the child when Richard Stack intervened. He looked the little boy up and down and laid a hand lightly on his shoulder. From his ragged clothing, it was clear that this child came from a family with limited resources.

“Why’d you steal the glove?” Stack asked.

Tears streamed down the child’s face as he squeaked, “I just want to play baseball.”

Stack nodded. “You can’t steal,” he said. “No matter how bad you want something, you cannot steal it. I want you to promise me you’re not going to do this again.”

“Yes, sir,” the kid said.

“Ok,” said Stack.

Then he walked over to the baseball section of the store and had the boy pick out a ball and a bat to go with the glove.

“You go play baseball,” Stack said, “and stay out of trouble.”

Because Richard recognized the value of his own youth sports experiences, his business was always a major proponent of individual kids and youth sports initiatives. In the early 1960s, Richard went on to expand the Binghamton, NY Little League program from 60 kids to 240. And eventually, Dick’s Sporting Goods began donating over $20 million a year to school sports programs nationwide.

Casting Customers in the Starring Role

Every kid dreams.

Ed Stack says this is something Dick’s keeps in mind through all their business decisions today. When a parent comes in to buy his or her kid a baseball glove or soccer cleats, they are buying more than equipment; they’re buying a dream of joy or greatness for their child. And Dick’s expands that vision to entire communities, leading a “Sports Matters” giving campaign with this storyline: “Every Kid Deserves a Chance to Play.”

Selling a vision is very different than selling a product, and it’s much easier. A vision is about a customer who sees themselves as the main character of your narrative. Here customers see what they could achieve through the vision you create. This starts by highlighting the challenges or problems of their current situation: potential they could tap into, dreams they want to achieve, or opportunities they may be missing.

Inspiring brands always lead their messages with an idea. For Dick’s, a core idea is that sports make a huge difference in the life of a child. Whether your idea is a belief to change the world or to encourage social responsibilities, your core belief will draw like-minded people to your brand. And when this vision engages the customer, they begin to own it for themselves.

Selling the vision isn’t about functions or features; it’s about showcasing the possibilities. Instead of selling rain boots, sell a world without soggy feet. Instead of selling coffee subscription services, sell the aroma of blissfully fresh beans at the doorstep each month. Instead of selling bats and gloves, sell the dream of children who have a place to belong.

Paint a picture of the desired reality and offer a road map for achieving it.

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5 Tips for a Successful Video Conference

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5 Tips for a Successful Video Conference

Generation Z is the demographic cohort born between the mid-to-late 1990s and around 2010.

Affectionately known as “Zoomers,” Gen Z individuals are technologically advanced (having never seen a world without internet), perceive information best through visuals, and absorb tons of new information daily. Zoomers are quick to learn and adept with technology, which is something we’re all being challenged to do in this pandemic season!

Best Practices for Managing Meetings Remotely

Perhaps you’ve recently become a “Zoomer” yourself: video-conferencing for the first time or managing the majority of your business remotely.

Whether you’re a tech pro or you are brand new to online meetings, everyone faces video-based communication challenges. Here are a few tips to make your online meetings a bit better:

1. Put Your Best Foot Forward

Often when we’re at home, we get a bit slumpy with our hygiene.

Before your meeting, take a minute to freshen up and to inspect your viewing area. Make sure the light is shining toward you (not from behind you) and that you sit in front of plain walls or more simple backgrounds. Some platforms will also allow you to enable HD options and click a “touch up my appearance” feature, which can smooth out wrinkles and blemishes in a flattering way.

2. Test in Advance

Before starting your meeting, preview your audio settings.

If you’re just using your laptop speaker and microphone, there’s not much to adjust. But if you’ve got a mic-headset combo you’d like to use, make sure it’s the audio is selected for both the Speaker and Microphone options before you start your call.

3. Have Participants Mute Themselves

When people aren’t speaking, their microphones can pick up minor background noises like chewing, sniffles, or typing.

Even laughter from meeting participants can break up the audio flow, so ask people to mute themselves whenever they’re not talking.

4. Designate a Moderator

The 2019 State of Remote Work report found that interruptions and being talked over are two of the biggest challenges for remote meetings.

To maximize group discussion, it’s best if a moderator calls on people individually and asks others to hold comments unless they indicate they’d like to speak. Some software has a “raise hand” feature, or you can establish on-camera signals that indicate when participants are ready to share. Chat boxes can also be used to type comments.

Finally, consider saving 10 minutes at the end of the meeting for additional comments or questions.

5. Have Some Fun

Part of the enjoyment of work is social connections.

“When you are used to being in person and have to be online, build in room for chitchat,” says Erica Kuhl, a consultant who has devoted years to nurturing online training communities.

Research shows that if employees don’t have a rich, welcoming online experience, their long-term engagement will drop significantly. Leave 15 minutes at the beginning of meetings for participants to introduce themselves, to share a personal highlight, or to enjoy some lighthearted banter. By building this in, you’ll have a more productive meeting overall.

Video Conferencing is Here to Stay

Now that we’ve gotten a taste for video conferencing, it may be here to stay.

Eighty percent of executives say video conferencing is taking over as the go-to form of internal team communication, and some predict that 50% of people will work remotely after 2020.

Being on top of your video conferencing game is essential, so use this season to master the technique, and you will reap the benefits in the future.

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Marketing Messages that Connect During a Crisis

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Marketing Messages that Connect During a Crisis

We are in a totally different world right now.

Many of us are working from home and the future seems hazy. Perhaps you’re struggling to make decisions about staffing or future projects. But like a forest fire restarts growth, crisis moments can bring a new birth for your business. And that starts with how you communicate with customers.

Others-Focused Communication

In our unending-news-cycle world, much of what we hear seems like noise.

But now, more than ever, it is crucial for you to connect with people in meaningful ways. Want to send business messages that are well received? Use an OTHERS-centered paradigm.

O = ONE

Write for one person.

When you craft a message, imagine yourself speaking to one specific client. Pick out a single buyer and pretend you’re writing only for them. This helps you ditch the sanitized corporate-speak and makes your reader the focus of your message (rather than you!).

People connect to messages that are specific, personal, and conversational.

T = TRANSPARENCY

Embrace transparency to become relatable.

People may admire you for your strengths, but they connect with you through your weaknesses. Vulnerability ushers in humility and makes you instantly relatable to your audience. Transparency means letting people know how your business is doing or what has changed for you during this taxing season. You don’t have to air all your dirty laundry, just take an open, communicative posture. Now is not the time to go silent!

H= HELPFUL

Speak to their needs, not your own.

What messages are most helpful to your customers at this time? While you could send a five-star handwashing tutorial, perhaps what is needed is advice to parents on talking to their kids, or how your company is adding flexibility to meet customer needs.

Don’t be afraid to push others to success. If your clients seem fearful or tentative, perhaps your encouragement will be the fuel they need to get back in the game or to push a stalled project to completion.

E = EMPATHETIC

Make their problem your problem.

Maya Angelou once said, “people will forget what you said, people forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

How does your messaging make people feel? Does it sound hard or templated? Or does it communicate true concern and a willingness to help? Your tone should sound something like this: “If it’s your problem, it’s my problem too, and we’ll work together to find a solution.”

R = RELEVANT

Timing matters.

The relevance of your messaging applies not only to its topic but its timing. Sending pre-scheduled content with no regard to how it will land during hardships is a sure way to demonstrate you’ve lost touch with your base. Reach out to customers and find out how they’re doing, then adapt your messages accordingly.

S = SINCERE

If you say or do something, mean it!

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often people talk just to hear their own voices. Using content just to fill space will strike people as stale and insincere. Instead, go out of your way to be helpful and kind without seeking a reward for doing so.

What Social Distance Can’t Overpower

Since you may not see customers directly for weeks to come, today is the time to make your website and print materials as “social distancing” friendly as possible.

By focusing on others with a relatable, helpful approach, you’ll connect with people one by one in ways that are sincere and inspiring. And nothing is more effective than that.

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How to Keep Employees Busy During COVID-19

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How to Keep Employees Busy During COVID-19

As the largest dental practice in North Carolina, Lane & Associates Family Dentistry (LAA) says it is proud to serve the state of North Carolina during COVID-19.

While restricting elective procedures, LAA has also gone above and beyond to serve its employees and community. LAA offered to temporarily pay employee insurance premiums, to prorate employee anniversary gifts, and to offer its staff interest-free loans. Staff have given nearly 1,000 sewed masks to the NC healthcare system, have been encouraged to donate blood, and they have provided lunch for healthcare workers, first responders, and long-term care facilities.

Recipients were thrilled. The Windsor Point Retirement Staff in Faquay-Varina gushed this over social media: “To Lane & Associates Family Dentistry, from the bottom of the hearts…THANK YOU!! We had the tastiest visit from Poblano’s Tacos Truck today for lunch!! It was delicious!”

Using Lag Time to Surge Ahead

During this uncertain season, employers around the world are navigating the challenges of fewer customers, reduced hours, or even mandated closures.

While you may not be able to proceed with “business as usual,” what can you do to keep your staff busy and profitable at this time? Here are a few ideas to consider:

Mobilize Service

Like LAA Dentistry, companies that care deeply for consumers, employees, and the community will gain trust and admiration.

Perhaps you can’t use your employees for face-to-face business right now, but maybe you can mobilize them for service instead. From a highway cleanup to food bank shelf stocking, brainstorm how you can involve your team in the community rather than running for cover. Companies that people admire help people solve problems, grow personally, or act collectively in ways that bring significant impact.

Host Meetings and Presentations Remotely

If you haven’t already, this is a great time to take your meetings from the boardroom to the internet.

Video-conferencing platforms abound in both paid and free capacities. Looking for options? Try Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts. If some employees are unable to attend, choose software that allows you to make recordings that can be shared later.

Get Organized

What are those 5-10 projects your company has been putting off for years?

Now is the time to tackle them! Have your team sort file cabinets, recycle or donate useless items, shred old documents, or clean up digital files. This is also a great time to pursue continuing education, to gather tax documentation, or to work ahead on upcoming certifications.

Research New Systems or Marketing Options

Experts estimate that every minute spent planning saves as many as ten minutes in execution: if it takes 10-12 minutes to plan out your day, this can save up to two hours later on!

This principle holds true over time. By using downtime to research new systems (think project management software, marketing automation, or new accounting systems), you can surge forward after the quarantines have passed.

This may also be a good time to conduct focus groups or A/B testing for future marketing or to gather customer feedback that helps you to assess social and economic dynamics and to consider new opportunities. With the increased downtime, many companies have reported a positive increase in survey participation.

Get Personal

Connections are the key to business, so use this time to make personal phone calls, to write notes of appreciation, or to find ways to offer extra value to your best customers.

Reward loyal customers who share info about your online classes, delivery options, or your social media posts. A little appreciation goes a long way!

Using Lemons to Make Lemonade

Employees are vital to your business.

If at all possible, use this time to test new ideas, provide services in new ways, or to tackle tasks that have been long neglected.

Think outside the box and encourage your team to be creative too!

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Escape the Productivity Pit by Taking Control of Your Email

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Escape the Productivity Pit by Taking Control of Your Email

Are you starting to feel trapped in a “productivity pit?”

While your mobile phone is supposed to make you more accessible and productive, it can also complicate your day, leaving you frazzled and weary. While the world is adjusting to new work-from-home scenarios, the increasing emphasis on new technology can often make workdays worse, not better.

While you may not be able to change your current working situation, you can take control of something that dominates the daily landscape: your email. DMA data from 2019 shows that the average number of email addresses owned by consumers is 2.5. Researchers estimate 132 billion business emails are sent daily, and American workers will receive an average of 126 emails every 24 hours!

5 Tips to Beat Back Your Email

Many people are drowning in digital messages, and it is not uncommon to find accounts that contain 50,000 messages. How can you beat back the tidal wave? Here are five tips to get started.

1. Change Your Mindset

Inbox overload is not just a traffic issue; it’s a priority issue.

Did you know that 84% of people keep their inboxes open all day, and 70% of emails are opened within six seconds? Many people claim to check their email and chat apps every six minutes or less. If that doesn’t stress our minds, it will undoubtedly tax our emotions.

To avoid digital overload, start with this truth: email can be a distraction that limits effectiveness.

2. Set Response Time Expectations

Because 63.5% of people say they expect an email response in one hour, reducing your email check-ins could cause unexpected conflict.

To set boundaries around email use, try using your “out of office” reply feature to let people know you will be away from the screen and when (or if!) they should expect a response. This can alleviate tension and also decrease the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that sparks you to check in so often.

3. Use Labels to Prioritize

Sometimes people feel pressured to deal with messages immediately, so they don’t get overwhelmed.

A better option is to use labels and a separate inbox to separate important from non-urgent messages. Scan your account once or twice a day and add the label @processing to any messages that need attention. Then collapse your regular inbox so you can’t see incoming messages.

Focusing on the priority list will heighten efficiency and decrease stress.

4. Draft Template Responses

Since it’s impossible to ignore or file each message, sometimes it is helpful to create a template of canned responses.

This may include apology notes, responses that hand off a request to your team, promises to follow up, or soft redirects to your website or FAQ page.

5. Pair Your Calendar with Your Follow-Up

Because some emails might require more than a simple reply, consider filing mail needing follow up in subfolders dated at the start of each week.

Then add the corresponding task to your calendar and include the folder location and date to remind you when a response is required. Dated weekly folders help clear your inbox and make for quick reference when you need to recover a task or a conversation. Dated folders can also allow you to delete timed out messages as a group, rather than deleting them one by one.

Redeem the Time

Email is many things, but a timesaver it is not.

If you work 260 days per year, AOL Jobs estimates you will spend 73 days doing nothing but staring at your inbox.

There is a better way! Set boundaries around your email so you can live with less stress and more freedom each day.

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How to Determine Optimal Pricing for Your Products or Services

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How to Determine Optimal Pricing for Your Products or Services

In September of 2019, Apple unveiled the iPhone 11, featuring a dual-lens rear camera, automated night mode, and built-in support for vision, hearing, and mobility.

One of the biggest surprises of the iPhone 11 was not its technical features, but its price. The iPhone 11 started at $699, down from the iPhone XR’s previous price of $749, and signaling one of the biggest year-on-year reductions in iPhone history. Apple also implemented $150 cuts on products like the iPhone 8 and the Apple Watch. Tech specialists were quick to comment:

“The biggest news from the Apple launch was the price cut for iPhone 11,” Chris Caso, an analyst at Raymond James and Associates, wrote in a note to investors. “We view this as an admission that Apple stretched too far with the price points at last year’s launch.”

Apple executives were not afraid to adjust pricing to current customers, especially knowing it may encourage upgrades or woo digital streaming subscribers. Lowering prices also increased the likelihood of up-selling related products: people who buy iPhones are far more likely to purchase iPads or AirPods.

Pricing that is “Just Right”

What is the best strategy for pricing the products or services you sell?

At first glance, this question seems pretty straightforward. But in reality, pricing is an art. Pricing well can enhance sales and create a prospering business, while the wrong approach can alienate customers and give competitors the edge.

There are a variety of pricing strategies in business, with some psychological influences in the approach you take. Here are four models to consider.

1. Cost-Based Pricing

The most straightforward pricing strategy is “cost-plus” pricing.

This involves calculating the total costs it takes to make your product, then adding a markup to determine the final price. This method is simple, fast, and lets you quickly add a profit margin to any product.

2. Market-Oriented Pricing

Market-oriented pricing starts from a cost-based perspective but adjusts pricing up or down with an eye on the competition and the customer.

For example, after comparing your products to similar items on the market, you can consciously price your products higher and brand your products as “best-quality” or “better performing.” Conversely, companies that price products low can lure more customers or sell large volumes that easily compensate for slim profit margins.

3. Discounts and Markdowns

Discount pricing is a strategy where items are initially marked high but then sold at a seemingly reduced cost to the consumer.

This can be especially effective during seasonal demand, inventory liquidation, or when marketing to value-oriented purchasers.

4. Flex Pricing

Flex pricing (or dynamic pricing) allows businesses to manipulate sales based on current market demands.

Flex pricing is at its best on big retail days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but can also be linked to timebound marketing strategies. Similar to what many sports teams and airlines do with ticket prices, you can manipulate prices up or down in a timebound fashion.

Coupons are another way to discretely provide dynamic pricing to a subset of prospects or customers. This allows you to attract new users or build momentum during seasonal promotions while remaining profitable.

Dynamic pricing can be challenging but worthwhile. In 2013, Walmart used flex pricing to change the prices of its products almost 50,000 times a month, and with this pricing model, its global sales grew by 30 percent!

Adjust as You Go

You have a great deal of flexibility in how you set prices.

And the good news is this: there is no surefire method to pricing things “just right.” Consider the current pandemic situation, your target customers, eyeball the competition, and hone your marketing to match the pricing strategy you pursue. Experiment, adjust, and see what works for your business.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

How to Determine Optimal Pricing for Your Products or Services

GettyImages-922221548.jpg

How to Determine Optimal Pricing for Your Products or Services

In September of 2019, Apple unveiled the iPhone 11, featuring a dual-lens rear camera, automated night mode, and built-in support for vision, hearing, and mobility.

One of the biggest surprises of the iPhone 11 was not its technical features, but its price. The iPhone 11 started at $699, down from the iPhone XR’s previous price of $749, and signaling one of the biggest year-on-year reductions in iPhone history. Apple also implemented $150 cuts on products like the iPhone 8 and the Apple Watch. Tech specialists were quick to comment:

“The biggest news from the Apple launch was the price cut for iPhone 11,” Chris Caso, an analyst at Raymond James and Associates, wrote in a note to investors. “We view this as an admission that Apple stretched too far with the price points at last year’s launch.”

Apple executives were not afraid to adjust pricing to current customers, especially knowing it may encourage upgrades or woo digital streaming subscribers. Lowering prices also increased the likelihood of up-selling related products: people who buy iPhones are far more likely to purchase iPads or AirPods.

Pricing that is “Just Right”

What is the best strategy for pricing the products or services you sell?

At first glance, this question seems pretty straightforward. But in reality, pricing is an art. Pricing well can enhance sales and create a prospering business, while the wrong approach can alienate customers and give competitors the edge.

There are a variety of pricing strategies in business, with some psychological influences in the approach you take. Here are four models to consider.

1. Cost-Based Pricing

The most straightforward pricing strategy is “cost-plus” pricing.

This involves calculating the total costs it takes to make your product, then adding a markup to determine the final price. This method is simple, fast, and lets you quickly add a profit margin to any product.

2. Market-Oriented Pricing

Market-oriented pricing starts from a cost-based perspective but adjusts pricing up or down with an eye on the competition and the customer.

For example, after comparing your products to similar items on the market, you can consciously price your products higher and brand your products as “best-quality” or “better performing.” Conversely, companies that price products low can lure more customers or sell large volumes that easily compensate for slim profit margins.

3. Discounts and Markdowns

Discount pricing is a strategy where items are initially marked high but then sold at a seemingly reduced cost to the consumer.

This can be especially effective during seasonal demand, inventory liquidation, or when marketing to value-oriented purchasers.

4. Flex Pricing

Flex pricing (or dynamic pricing) allows businesses to manipulate sales based on current market demands.

Flex pricing is at its best on big retail days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but can also be linked to timebound marketing strategies. Similar to what many sports teams and airlines do with ticket prices, you can manipulate prices up or down in a timebound fashion.

Coupons are another way to discretely provide dynamic pricing to a subset of prospects or customers. This allows you to attract new users or build momentum during seasonal promotions while remaining profitable.

Dynamic pricing can be challenging but worthwhile. In 2013, Walmart used flex pricing to change the prices of its products almost 50,000 times a month, and with this pricing model, its global sales grew by 30 percent!

Adjust as You Go

You have a great deal of flexibility in how you set prices.

And the good news is this: there is no surefire method to pricing things “just right.” Consider the current pandemic situation, your target customers, eyeball the competition, and hone your marketing to match the pricing strategy you pursue. Experiment, adjust, and see what works for your business.

Leave a comment

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