March Thought

Rain and wind and then more of the same. March is certainly coming in like a lion. I feel so sorry for those people whose homes have been invaded by floods and the farmer I heard on the radio this morning who has 200 acres under water. I also heard of a house fire in a local village which has totally destroyed another home. Then of course there is the coronavirus. The very places we should think of as safe havens are not. Thank goodness it is spring and summer is coming.

It is Fairtrade Fortnight. Fairtrade is something very close to my heart for many reasons but mostly because I believe passionately in people being paid properly for the work they do; whatever and wherever it is. Every job is hugely important and involves skill. I was pleased in many ways that there was an outcry recently about the proposed immigration policy that implied we could judge people’s level of skill on their level of income.

My clients know that I will often challenge them early on about how much they charge. So often they under rate their knowledge and skill and consequently what they have to offer. They charge apologetically rather than appropriately. So often the price they put on their product is not the same as the world does. They forget that good work is good value.

So yesterday my local Fairtrade shop at church decided to promote chocolate because this is one of the products so often associated with Fairtrade. I love Fairtrade chocolate. it really is spectacular and a real treat (as chocolate should be). However, what we were offered was hot chocolate; marshmallows and sprinkles optional. It was a mug of sheer heaven; far superior to any other hot chocolate I have tasted at home or abroad. And the shop sold so many tubs they ran out! However, this is not a thought about stock levels!

It got me thinking about how we showcase what we do:

  • Many offer product samples and why not? If it looks good, tastes fabulous or smells wonderful then proof of that will drive sales.
  • If it is a piece of cooking kit or say a new type of cleaning process, we offer demonstrations. See it work its wonders – how many ads on TV do that? What a fantastically clean floor or straight, glossy, glorious hair if you use what is in this bottle.
  • There is the party idea – look at it, touch it, hear the story and watch your friends buying.
  • Many offer some sort of financial inducement – 10% off for first time buyers. It works but look how mad that makes existing customers!
  • If it is a service people offer tasters so potential clients can experience “it”.

All of these are valid routes to getting your product or service to market, but we need to think about how much it makes our cost per sale. Each of them can be tweaked to be very effective.

I know that the lovely Fairtrade volunteers became baristas for free. I suspect they may have donated the marshmallows and sprinkles and maybe even the chocolate itself for the free taster yesterday. However, in general terms we offer whatever the inducement for free to the potential customer but at a cost to us. That cost needs watching for two reasons:

  1. If it costs £5 and every sale only generates £1 of profit, we need to make lots of sales to justify it. However, if the price is low then there might be lots of sales. We need to get the equation right.
  2. If we are offering tasters what is the opportunity cost of giving up that time? And do people accept the free taster without having the budget to buy into your offering long term?

Then there are the other costs involved in bringing potential customers close enough to you to then take advantage of your offer. Marketing expertise, social media, conventional advertising and networking. Many of my clients ask me at some stage about their networking activities. We network for many different reasons: to raise our profile, to find direct business, to gather testimonials, to get referrals and for support. If we have a good leader then they will also introduce us to their huge networks. However, networking is expensive. So, all things included what is your real cost per sale and does that figure in your price?

So how do you promote your product or service?

Is it cost effective?

Might there be better ways?

Working with a mentor is one of the major ways of getting advice that will improve your business, management and personal skills. It is a great way to work through any business issue that is preventing you achieving what you want to, as fast as you want to. Why not chat with me about how it might work for you.

Life is good; let’s live it to the full, enjoy it and be the best we can be.

And if you like chocolate buy Fairtrade because the growers produce a fantastic product and should be paid properly for their labour!