It happens to us all at some time or other; you realise that your expertise and experience is worth far more than the prices you're charging. Or maybe you’ve absorbed so many increased costs in order to stay competitive that your profit margin has diminished.
It's time to raise your prices if you want to stay in business.
But the decision to increase your prices can cause a great deal of stress. How will your existing customers react? They have become accustomed to paying a particular fee, they've budgeted for your services or products and now they’re faced with paying more.
Here are four tried and tested ways to handle a price increase without losing many customers.
Of course, no matter how sensitively you handle the news of your price increase, you may still lose some customers - especially those for whom price is everything. Accept this - you can’t please everyone!
Perhaps the best advice I can share with you is to charge a fair price in the first place. If you start off charging a rock bottom price to bring customers through the door, it won’t be long before you become resentful that you’re delivering so much for so little. Trying to remedy this situation by dramatically putting up your prices will just alienate your customer base.
Copyright © 2015 Dee Blick, Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Marketing and an Amazon #1 bestselling author of The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book and The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for your Small Business.
The millennials are growing up. Young people born in the eighties and nineties have been seen as the first generation to adapt to the "new age". However, these consumers are now entering their thirties and there is a new, younger generation making its mark - Generation Z.
Gen Z youngsters have grown up in the iGeneration - indeed, they have never known life before broadband, mobile phones, apps and social media. But they arguably have a more mature appreciation for culture and ethics compared to their predecessors.
For businesses and marketing professionals, Gen Z presents an interesting demographic to target, as the way they play turns traditional consumer behaviour on its head. The latest research shows that Generation Z are completely turned off by celebrity culture and traditional media, and are more tuned in to peer-to-peer recommendation and online superstars like Zoe Suggs, Tanya Burr, Jim Chapman and Alfie Deyes. For female Generation Z-ers, bloggers are actually cited as the fourth most popular "celebrity" influence.
Chloe Combi, author of Generation Z, defines this audience as those born between 1995 and 2001 - a subset of Generation Y, really, but a distinct one, whose dates coincide with the spread of home internet connections and mobile phones.
Combi explains: "This iGeneration can't conceive of a world before everyone owned a mobile phone, and instant gratification is their norm; they have it in the palms of their hands within moments, usually for free. This ability to find whatever they're after without the help of intermediaries - such as libraries, shops or teachers - has made them more independent and self-directed than generations before them."
For Generation Z, social media is king. Unsurprisingly, Facebook remains the number one platform, however for Generation Z, Snapchat is the second most popular, with 42% of this audience checking Snapchat at least once a day. For other audiences, Snapchat would barely even get into the top ten. With Snapchat increasingly looking to monetise their service, this is a really interesting platform to keep an eye on if you have a product or service that targets this complex group.
As far as Generation Z is concerned, print media is dead. This is isn't to say they don't pick up the odd magazine or newspaper, however for genuine cut through, online sites, bloggers and vloggers are the media that hold the real power of influence.
These guys shop around, read review sites and blogs, seek out recommendations and refer constantly to social media. This audience is savvy and is looking for value for money.
For any successful marketing or PR campaign, consumer profiling and understanding how your target audience plays is pivotal. As technology continues to advance at an incredible rate, and as what we know from one generation to the next changes rapidly, understanding consumer behaviour and applying this knowledge to your marketing could make the difference between failure and success.
Generation Z is an interesting demographic and a challenging and exciting audience to engage with. The New York Times has described Gen Z as "the next big thing for market researchers, cultural observers and trend forecasters".
However, by no means are we close to fully understanding this audience, as the nature of Generation Z means they are ever developing and evolving in their behaviour.
Copyright © 2016 Rhianon Williams, associate director at consumer PR agency Escapade PR.
Escapade has produced this infographic to help businesses better understand Generation Z:
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What are the best marketing methods to use in 2016 if you want to boost your online sales results?
In this podcast, I talk to four experts to get their tips on the best marketing strategies for ecommerce retailers in the coming year.
Alex O’Byrne, co-founder of WeMakeWebsites, talks about putting customers first and creating content that attracts and influences them.
Ernest Capbert runs the website Who Buys Your Stuff. He talks about what to do with your marketing after you understand who your customer is, focusing on CRM and social media advertising.
Chris Dawson, co-founder and editor of Tamebay, talks about some of the tools you can use to improve your results on marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon.
Andrew Wilson of Allergy Best Buys reveals how offline marketing can help you sell more products online.
In addition, I share some thoughts on Facebook ads, remarketing and email sign-ups that I hope will be useful. Enjoy the podcast.
Many business owners assume marketing is all about lead generation; pulling in new enquiries and gaining new customers.
But this is not the whole picture. Marketing is actually about getting more business. And that includes getting more value out of your existing customer base.
To achieve this you need to be able to identify two customer types. Firstly, you need to know who are your most profitable customers - those that are bringing you high value. This is the absolute gross profit taking into account the volume of sales. Then you need to know who are your "active" customers, those that are engaged with you in some way within a set period of time.
How you approach each of the four main customer segments depends on their profitability and levels of activity. I call this the four Rs - retention, reactivation, reconditioning and reach. Here's how it works:
These are the customers who are bringing you high profit and are active. Generally, these will be the 20% of customers that give you 80% of your business. You need to keep these.
Think about retaining them. Have they stopped communicating, are they buying lower margin products or not buying at all?
These are the customers who may have once been purchasing at a profitable level, but have started to communicate less with you. Find out why.
You are just reaching out to them, not selling. You want to remind them that you exist, and keep your brand in their thoughts.
These are your "comfort zone" clients. You may be afraid to touch them in case they stop buying from you altogether, but the truth is there is more that you can do.
Focus on reconditioning the situation, so the customer is getting more value and is giving you more value in return.
Don't place your emphasis here but do have a strategy; these customers may become more valuable in the future.
Reach out with minimal effort.
Once you can clearly place your customers into these categories, you will be far better positioned to achieve stability and smart growth.
Copyright © 2016 Shweta Jhajharia, principal coach and founder of The London Coaching Group.
Twitter recently made the decision to replace its Favorite button with a Like button giving users a new way to show their appreciation for Tweets.
Of course, Facebook has been using this feature for years. This sudden change at Twitter may have come as a shock to the system for avid social media users, but it's not the first time that something like this has happened. In 2013, taking a leaf out of Twitter's book, Facebook added a panel showing trending hashtags to its homepage.
Social media platforms seem to be slowly blending into one and to prove it, here are three examples of social media features that are now spread across a multitude of platforms.
To appeal to new users, Twitter has swapped its Favorite feature for a Like feature, symbolised by a heart. According to Twitter, newcomers often found the Favorite feature (with its star symbol) confusing and were unsure what they should use it for.
Crucially for businesses, it's likely that companies that use Twitter will get more Likes than they did Favorites because liking something has a much lower barrier than making it your Favourite. However, this move by Twitter could reduce the number of retweets and these currently generate the most social reach for many firms.
It's hard to ignore the surge in video across all social media channels.
Recently, Facebook introduced an auto-play feature, making it impossible to avoid the viral videos that fill our news feeds. Image-sharing platform Instagram also introduced a 15-second video feature, responding to the micro-video craze established by Vine. Twitter rolled out 30-second videos for tweets and began offering promoted video ads. Even Pinterest unveiled Cinematic Pins, a GIF-like video feature.
Video sharing has even created micro-celebrities, including Cian Twomey, an Irish Facebook user who rose to fame after posting videos of himself impersonating his girlfriend. Cian's Facebook page now has over three million Likes.
Anyone who has been tagged in an unflattering photo on Facebook will be unhappy to find out that Twitter has also adopted this feature. Rather than listing the names of the people in the tweet, users can now tag them in the photo.
Thankfully, anyone tagged in a photo can amend or delete the tag themselves. The photo will only appear in the original Tweeter's stream, unless tagged users choose to retweet. One thing worth knowing about this feature is that the default setting for private accounts is to not allow any tagging.
Like it or not, it's clear that social media channels are slowly converging on a single set of standards.
Copyright © 2015 Jessica Phillips, account executive at Stone Junction.
The most successful e-commerce retailers are always learning. But what did we learn in 2015 that can help us move forward in 2016?
The industry has grown up. We turned a corner in 2015. It’s no longer about the shiny tech - those who are succeeding easily are focused on how to best serve their customer and finding the right ways to do this.
In this, my new podcast, I have brought together three top e-commerce experts to review the lessons of 2015.
Chris Dawson, is co-founder and editor of Tamebay and a top expert on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. Alex O’Byrne is co-founder of WeMakeWebsites, the UK’s highest rated Shopify web designers. And Andrew Wilson runs his own e-commerce business, Allergy Best Buys.
Tune in and find out how what we all learned in 2015 could help you make more online sales in 2016.