ComplianceJuly 18, 2022

Expert Insights: Marketing your business during inflation

When it comes to generating revenue during inflationary times, business owners can feel stuck between two unpopular choices — forced to either raise prices or reduce their offerings. Owners are well aware that both scenarios have the potential to upset and drive away customers.

However, it is possible to keep and even expand your customer base during these times by changing your marketing approach. Ivana Taylor, publisher of DIYMarketers.com, talks about the importance of developing a “winflation” mindset, one that centers on the values customers care about and how these values relate to your business.

Ivana explains how and when a business should decide to raise prices and provides a few pricing strategies, such as adding membership or premium tiers. She also discusses the benefits of forming business partnerships, the hidden opportunities to be found in your website data, and how to be a more effective email marketer.

Transcript

Greg Corombos: Hi, I'm Greg Corombos, our guest in this edition of Expert Insights is Ivana Taylor. She is the publisher of DIYMarketers.com, which focuses on doing marketing well on a small budget. Today, we want to get Ivana’s thoughts on some counterintuitive ideas she has about marketing and customer service during this time of inflation and why immediate price increases may or may not be the way to go. Ivana, thanks so much for being with us.

Ivana Taylor: Super excited to be here. Can’t wait to chat.

GC: Well, when times of inflation hit, you encourage business owners to take on a “winflation” mindset. What exactly does that mean?

IT:  Well, you know, we've been doing a bunch of…what would I call it…research. I have access to our incredible research team over at questionpro.com. And I have just… Greg, I've been pissed off about shrinkflation. I've been so upset about it. We've all noticed it, right? Everything getting smaller, the quality getting less, but the price going up. Right? And I was curious about that. And what I realized was that customers choose you for a reason. So this idea of a winflation is really all about understanding what it is that your customers love when they buy from you and making sure that you deliver on exactly that. They are willing to pay more. Seventy-two percent of our respondents were willing to pay more for what they wanted. And I don't feel a lot of companies even pay attention or ask, right? So, you know, it does mean getting to know what your customers really value about what they're purchasing from you. I mean, I have examples if you want them.

GC: Yeah, absolutely. Let's get into that because we're going to go through the points from your recent columns. We should point out that if you go to DIYMarketers.com, you can find…columns on the subjects we're talking about today, as well as many, many others. So we're gonna get to a lot of those important bullet points in just a moment. But Ivana, you have a very interesting approach to price increases during a time of inflation. It kind of depends on the situation. On the one hand, you suggest that immediately raising prices may not be the best move. That's kind of the knee-jerk move in this environment. So you say in some cases, just let the competition do that, and you can focus on some other ways to keep the books even and perhaps grow your revenues more effectively through better customer engagement. At the same time, though, you also say that customers are often fine, like you just did, with higher prices, as long as they know you're providing them with value. So explain how you think through whether to raise prices or not, and when to do it.

IT:  Exactly. So one of the things I really like to talk about when you're talking… You know, number one, you should be paying attention to your prices and doing small increases all the time. Because it seems like we're in a price-raising thing all the time. People do expect to pay more, and you can increase your prices to pay more. Because you probably are not selling a commodity, right? The other thing I recommend is to really sit down and look at those things that customers value the most. This goes back to this winflation mindset. What do customers value? Time, trust, relationship, security, transformation. Changing from where they are to where they want to be. So that is really, really critical. I mean, think about wanting something quickly. You know, anything having to do with time. People value their time more than anything. So those universal human values are always going to do well. Right? There are so many creative things that you can do. You know you do need to understand how price sensitive your customers are and why they're buying from you. One of my favorite phrases is, people will complain about price if they don't know why to choose you. When given two things you can’t see the difference between, you're going to buy the cheaper one, right? And so that's why it's really important to understand how your product or service is related to those universal benefits. Let the competitors do what they're going to do. But if you are focused on this thing, one of the things you can do — one of my favorite tips — is to offer a premium option. Don't raise the price on the thing you're doing. Right? Keep that thing the same. Add a premium option. What are some cool things that you can add that will give your customers a little bit more of something that they value? That premium option can then include those things I talked about. Like a time. You can offer it faster. You can offer more. You could offer regular. Just play around with those things? So, a premium option is a great way to go. Now another of my favorite tips is to offer a membership. Memberships are super hot, right? People are getting…even Amazon gives you the opportunity to keep buying something at a particular level. Memberships are amazing because…if you're in the retail business, people can literally pay you twice. You can buy a membership that gives you discounts. A buy one get one or something. And then of course, what are you gonna do? You're gonna bring some friends, you're gonna spend your money. And now you're gonna spend more. So businesses get paid twice. So those are just a couple of tips.

GC:  Well, let's dig into that a little more. Because I think, based on what you just described, you probably have a few examples, like you mentioned earlier that you could fit in here. Because one of the things you point out that should be obvious — but may not be to some — is that they could be thinking, well, how do you know what options your customers would really respond well to? And you have the revolutionary idea of asking them what they would like to have and what other services you could provide. So whether it's great ideas you've heard from customers or premium options, or membership options, what are some specific examples that you or other folks you've consulted with have done that have really worked out well for them?

IT: Well, asking them is great. But you know, what are the weird things about…and of course, I advocate that. But there's a more subtle level of asking people something. You ask a question, and they tell you what the answer is, and then you listen to that answer. What I'm going to advocate — and pay attention, people. Listen for. There's a difference, right? Instead of asking… instead of listening to what they're telling you. Because people don't know. You know, your business. So listen for opportunities. Here's an example. There's a guy that runs a mechanic shop in my neighborhood. And he noticed that people were like, oh, I busted my windshield. Do you fix windshields? You get two or three people asking you a certain question. He's like, hey. He calls a local windshield guy saying, I got people asking if they can do windshields. How about you and I get together, and I will call you in? Right? When someone wants it, I'll make an appointment. You come, you sell it to me for 80 bucks. I sell it for 100. Everybody's happy. Right? So the key here isn't just to ask, it's also to pay attention to what your customers are doing. Whether it's an in-person shop. Even if you have an online store. You can have…there's a little thing that can pop up and say, what are you looking for today? You know, those types of things. Look for opportunities. Pay attention to your data, pay attention to your website data, pay attention to the search terms. All of those things give subtle clues that are even more powerful than asking.

GC: And you also moved into another point that you make in this great column, even. And that is partnering with other businesses. Not necessarily direct competitors, but people who can kind of add on to what you already do but don't overlap that much. How much do you see that happening? And how much should it happen?

IT: I see it happening here and there. You know, let's say for example. I see it happening a lot with…restaurants and bars. So there's a local bar, but they are actually partnered up with a restaurant. So you know, the restaurant provides the food, the bar provides the drinks. Everybody's happy, right? So you see that a lot, but you could see it more. Oh, another really good partnership that I think folks could relate to… And this is, oh my god, I'm going into another topic, right? Which is really focusing on a specific type of customer or a niche or niche or however you like to say that. The real example is, I had a friend of mine pass away, and I was the executor of her estate. What that meant…that the house had to sell, stuff had to be cleaned out… As soon as this trigger event happens, a bunch of other things happen, right? So I have an elder law attorney as a client. And I advise everyone — you, over the age of 55. Get yourself an elder law attorney, right? Because what happens is, he's got a real estate agent. That real estate agent only does these types of sales. When older people either die or downsize or something. Her target audience is anyone over the age of 65. Right? I call this woman up. She's, like, I got this handled. It's fine. I made one phone call. She took…people came. Cleaned up the house. They donated what needed to be donated. They sold what needed to be sold. The money went straight into the account, I didn't have to do hardly anything, right? I had to let them in. Okay. So those are the kinds of creative partnerships where you have the same customer, but you provide different services to that customer. And you can see the benefit of choosing a specific customer because those specific customers experience certain events. And when those events happen, it creates…what do you call…a ripple effect that impacts other businesses. And that's why I advocate partnership so much. Everyone should do it.

GC: We're speaking with Ivana Taylor. She is the publisher of DIYMarketers.com. I strongly recommend you check out her site. Just a couple of quick items remaining on the marketing side here, Ivana. First of all, follow ups. Some people think, whether they're customers or business owners, that if a customer has gotten on your email list, you don't want to bombard them. But you do want to stay in touch with them. Follow up on something you offered or maybe what they had asked about at a previous time. And if you're on the consumer side, you tend to just click and delete without even reading. So how do you make those effective? How do you make follow ups effective without being annoying?

IT: So many ways, right? In today's email marketing systems…really make it so much easier to do this. The key thing that you do need to do is that you do need to make sure that your email is segmented based on people's interests. Because if you're sending them to things that they're interested in, they're more likely to open and more likely to pay attention. Our research shows that what people want to receive more than anything is a discount or promotional item. Those are the emails that get opened. Those are the emails your customers want to see. So…and I do want to get technical. I'm going to stick something in all you people's ears. Please do some research. I've written some articles on it. But Web 3.0 is here, and Web 3.0 impacts security and privacy. And it's definitely impacting emails. So that's why it's the number one rule. I would not advocate that you just send out a simple newsletter and just wait for them to call you. What I do recommend is that if you have people who are purchasing widget a or service a, that you send them those types of offers, and you make sure that you follow up with those types of offers. Don't just default to sending these blasts. I have a large email list. And what I do is if I know that certain people are interested in something, I will send them a personal email. Hey, I know…just like you would with a friend. Right?

GC: Exactly.

IT:  My most recent survey — that I haven't written up yet — it's showing that the number one thing customers want to feel appreciated is to be engaged with. Meaning like, talk to me like a person, be nice to me. So those are the kinds of things that are important. So don't just blast. Blasting doesn't work anymore. That data is no longer as accurate because of the privacy laws and the privacy technologies that are hitting our computers and mobile devices.

GC: Ivana, it's been a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much for your time today and your excellent insights. I just want to let folks again know to find all of your work at DIYMarketers.com. So I encourage folks to check you out there. And thank you again very much for your time with us today.

IT:  Thanks a lot.

GC: Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers.com. I'm Greg Corombos reporting for Expert Insights. 

small business services

BizFilings

Helping entrepreneurs stay compliant


Speak with a specialist:
(855) 336-6684

Back To Top