September 2016 - Kara Lambert

Monthly Archives: September 2016

We all just need to stop and listen and then we would achieve greatness

Just stop for a minute and listen. What can you hear? I can hear my fingers tapping on the keyboard. I can hear the heater pumping warm air into the house. I was just startled by my mini tripod falling onto my hands. The roof just creaked. There’s the whirr of the laptop fan. The wind blows outside. I admit, I often think the house is quiet late at night, but really it’s full of noise.

It’s amazing what we hear when we stop and pay attention to what is happening around us rather than what we want to happen. Now, I’m fortunate enough to work from home, but what if you’re not? Or what if you spend most of your day away from your home office? Do you stop to listen to the hum of your day? The car, the surroundings, the people?

Now here’s a thing… do you honestly believe you spend enough time listening to the people around you? Or are you, like most, busy thinking about what to say/ how to solve/ what comes next?

We are so conditioned to help. We need to be needed. We strive. We aim for the next sale. The next conversion. Hustle! We are in such a hurry.

listen quote simon sinek

But what if we didn’t? What if we just stopped and listened? What then?

What if instead of racing to find the solution to our customer’s woes we stopped to listen? Would we find out that instead of assuming that they needed a hammer to hang that picture frame that they really needed a level? Would that make us look bad?

What if instead of taking a deep breath when a co-worker or staff member arrives we just listened? Would we hear that the anxiety they feel isn’t because they are timid, but instead they are afraid of disappointing?

What if instead of filling our heads with all the reasons why we couldn’t or shouldn’t, we listened to something deeper? What if we listened for the story we weren’t being told. It lies just under the surface of what we are told.

What if we listened to that untold story instead?

listen quote stephen covey

The two words business owners need to ask without fear to change their business – so what

These two words bring about thoughts of anger in every parent, competition in every sibling, and fear in every business owner. Yet as business owners, we need to be asking it more often than we do. To achieve more we need to be willing (and able) to step back and reassess. When dealing with difficult clients, these two words can change the way you approach the situation.

So what

I’m not asking a question, these are the words. While I understand it might seem abrupt and abrasive; it’s this that gives them their charm but also their jolting power. You see, it’s not until we are jolted from our comfort zone that we see and achieve greatness.

So what has that power.

Customers
Let’s get these out the way first. I know there were a number of times a whingey whiny customer came to me, complaining about something that really wasn’t my responsibility. Or the angry one yelling & swearing & carrying on like nobody’s business. Oh they were the ones I definitely wanted to say So what to! (and mean it with all the charm of a moody teenager)

But you really need to ask yourself So what in a few different ways and a number of times

- So what if I gave in and kept them happy

- So what if they were right

- So what if I were to step back and find out why they are so angry

- So what if I were to lose them as a client

Now the idea with these is that you need to give yourself the space to ask the questions without being angry, because that’s just not going to help anyone – especially if one of you already are.

Staff

Oh my word! Yep, I’ve managed staff. Displaced staff. Staff approaching retirement. Ugh, it was a bit of a rogues gallery. All lovely people, but boy oh boy was it rough at times. But you know what, I have learned the most from being a boss. So here are some of my of my favourites:

- So what if I gave in and kept them happy

- So what if they were right

- So what if I were to step back and find out why they are so angry

Look familiar? That’s because this isn’t about making you happy. It’s about them. Sorry, it’s true. The man thing angry people want is to be heard. If you can show them a genuine interest, you’re over half-way there. From there use what I teach in aligning values to align what you want/need achieved with their values/needs. It’s funny how quickly they are adopted as their own and behaviour improves. I’ve used these approaches on my staff and it has been used and adopted in other businesses I‘ve consulted to. The result is the same – staff buy in & improved performance. And not just to keep you quiet and off their backs, they actually believe it.

Growing your business

This is the first place I actually used these words – in assisting business owners to grow their business by determining the benefits of their service or product. I would have them ask So what.

In this instance it’s about challenging your perception of what your business is meant to look like and where you want it to go.

- So what if I decide not to do video for my business

- So what if I introduced a new product or service now or in 6/12/24 months time

- So what if I moved premises

- So what if I rebranded/changed my name

Self

You really didn’t believe that I would let you off without asking yourself did you? We know we are our own worst enemy. Some of us can’t stand turning the mirror on ourselves, yet others do it with reckless abandon. The ones who succeed are the ones who take action.

So what kind of So what questions should you ask yourself? Here are a few I use…

- So what if I fail

- So what if it’s not perfect

- So what will this extra money mean for my family

- So what is my next step

Push yourself. This stuff was never meant to be easy, change rarely is & challenge was never meant to be. If you don’t feel uncomfortable to the point of frustration, then you need to ask yourself again So what and you may have to do this a number of times until in mental exhaustion you say ‘enough’.

These two words, while they can hurt, are incredibly powerful and used carefully can drive you and your business to places you didn’t even think possible. In fact, this is what people have said about the outcomes of me having asked these questions of them.

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Irena found real understanding underpinned with psychology

Having an experienced sounding board. The idea of a client's buying cycle stayed with me.

I needed to understand whether Facebook ads were for me. We had a conversation and she shared her own journey and related it to mine. I could then see what would or wouldn't work for my situation.

Endlessly searching and not doing. You can endlessly sit online and 'learn' but in the end you just have to have a go and then iterate.

She's easy to talk to and has a broad skill set - meaning its her knowledge of human psychology that is key. I love that she's real and not 'salesy'.

Irena Bee ,
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She got me organised! We set the goals, worked out when I needed to do weekly/daily to get me there. They were specific, not wishy washy.

Kara was very knowledgeable and held my hand through a "troll" incident. She was the first person I went to to seek advice. Kara has also been extremely generous in her time and information when it comes to social media, trends, how things work, best times to post. I love that is comes from a psychological point of view.

I started with no idea! Kara has filled my world with ambition, dreams and goals.

So very generous with her knowledge and time.

Jo Speirs ,
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Kara inspires me and moves me closer to success

I love Kara's work and how she continually inspires me to achieve my goals. Kara consistently produce great content that moves me closer to my success every time. And I love that she uses psychology to help better understand my clients.

tammy Sooveere , Nutritionist
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Kara opened my eyes to where I was in my business

Kara's training really pushed me. She really made me think!

Colin Capurso , Designer

 

 

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3 rock solid ways to achieve your financial goals

Money Money Money. Don’t worry, I won’t go on despite my inner child continuing to hum. Finances is one thing that businesses either excel or struggle with. Let’s face it, we all like more of it, but how many of us actually track and forecast finances? While I don’t profess to be an expert and none of what I have is advice – it is what has worked for me thus far in achieving my financial goals.

Before I go into tracking financial goals, the best place to start is actually in setting them.

Financial goal setting

I’ve previously spoken on goal setting, hey I’ve even added it to my course, and financial goals are no different. In fact, setting financial goals is critical to business success - otherwise you’re just bumbling along.

The key to any goal setting is not to be the SMART one but to be SMARTER. I am not a fan of SMART goal setting, it falls short of the quality assurance aspects I have grown to need over my years doing QA. Some would even say that financial tracking is the QA to financial goal setting. (They’d be right)

So just briefly, what are SMARTER goals?
Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Reportable
Time-sensitive
Evaluated
Reviewed.

success and money and financial goals Kara Lambert Business Coach

Now, I’m not going to go through this in detail as you can read it over here on my original goal setting blog post, but there are some key points you need to pay particular attention to:

Make sure that your financial goal is Achievable. I actually didn’t set my goal until half-way through my second year. That way I had some data behind me on how my sales flowed over time. Not to mention that setting unrealistic goal is a sure fire way to have your ‘bubble burst’ & to feel defeated.

Make sure your financial goal is Time-sensitive. After the first year, my goals roll over and continue. Annual financial goal setting around tax time, or calendar year, gives you some firm dates to work with. (No moving goal posts)

Make sure that your financial goal is Evaluated. This means that it is relevant and appropriate for your industry. It’s unrealistic to set sales target as if you were a real estate agent, when you’re actually a piano teacher. (Ok, a little extreme but you get the picture)

Find a way to track your incoming and outgoing finances

Don’t confuse this with the main aim of this of tracking against a goal. This step is so you know where you are, RIGHT NOW!

Perhaps it’s the time I studied accounting in high school, or growing up with a Mum being a debt collector – it frightens me how some business owners don’t track their sales and expenses and/or use their business funds as a bit of a personal slush fund.

Tracking the ins and outs of my business finances was ok on a spreadsheet, but I really upped my game when I started to use an accounting package.

While a number of people I know use Xero & MYOB, as a bootstrapped startup I needed something to record my finances and I chose Wave Apps. Don’t stress, you don’t have to go get Wave, I’m not selling it (it’s free anyway), if your shoebox/envelope/spreadsheet/MYOB works for you then I am happy as you’re tracking.

I think the thing about moving to an official accounting package was that it all became ‘real’. I had automated invoicing, credit card payment facilities, this sh*t was real! The excel spreadsheet just didn’t have the same appeal.

I admit that moving to a system and inputting the figures and seeing your surplus can be daunting for some, but it’s a fabulous reality check.

So you’ve set a realistic goal and you’re keeping track of your cashflow, now what. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is and dream big.

Tracking your progress against your financial goals

As I said earlier, I let myself work for a while before I started forecasting and tracking. Yes, late one night I thought it would be fun to project out my finances for 10 years. I looked at what my growth had been this financial year over the previous one and used this as my multiplier for the coming years. Look, it’s not perfect but past performance is a better predictor of future performance than plucking a number out of the air! So you know it was 1.8x, yes I was on track to double my business in my second year.

So, I took the 1.8 and multiplied it year on year until I got to 10 years. Yes I realise that I worked in a compounding effect. Believe me, when I saw a projection of half a million dollars and then three quarters I gasped! It triggered a massive reaction against that sort of money. Then I thought, ‘why not!’, why shouldn’t I earn that much, why couldn’t I earn that much, and then I thought ‘ HOW DO I EARN THAT MUCH’.

That was my challenge, how do I grow my business in 10 years to earn three quarters of a million dollars?? I started adding columns to my spreadsheet. I added new programs and offers. I wanted this money, the opportunities (I actually want to employ my husband) it brought. I used the same factor growth on some of these offers and others I chose a more steady linear growth.

financial goals and success Kara Lambert Business Coach

Then I did another thing. I looked at what I would take as ‘pay’ from the business. This is actually my second business, the first is a passion business & I do it for love, and I was adamant that it would be bootstrapped and I would pay myself 30% of all business income (not profit). I am very clear that I pay myself and my debtors first. This sometimes means that I can not make larger business purchases (as a bootstrap business I have invested no personal equity), but I was clear coming into it that this business would stand alone.  I understand that some may need more (or less) and some business structures allow for different payment models. I chose 30% as a starting point. So, I added columns to the spreadsheet to calculate 30% of each product’s income and this represented my ‘pay’. Now this was amazing! This was precisely what my work meant to my family. This is where my motivation took right off.

The next step was a few little lines at the bottom of the sheet that I update regularly. It has my current business income (not surplus), my projected annual income, the difference between these, then my known future sales (I have clients kept on retainer) and the difference again. At the end I have an ultimate sales target. This is the number I use to motivate my actions moving forward. Believe me, knowing what that 30% I pay myself means to my family makes that end sales target all that more special.

So to summarise:
- Set SMARTER financial goals
- Track your cashflow
- Track your financial goals and what it means in your personal pocket

Would you like a copy of my financial goal tracker (all formulae included)? Click here to access the template.

3 ways your 9-ending pricing influence customer sales

This article on 9-ending pricing follows on from my earlier piece on odd & even/0 & 5 ending pricing. I have to admit that it was somewhat a strategic move as we often believe that 9-ending prices are more common, well at least they seem to be!

The following is a summary of findings from reading marketing and psychological research into 9-ending pricing. The findings are summarised to give guidance to business owners before they implement

So why 9-ending pricing?

Anderson & Simester (2003) indicated that 9-ending pricing has an 80 year history. In fact, Guéguen & Leoherel (2001) state that it was originally introduced to manipulate the staff rather than the consumer. They state that 9-ending pricing was introduced so that sales staff would have to open the till and offer change, rather than pocketing the entire proceeds of a sale. So it’s interesting to thing how now it’s become a way to ‘convince’ consumers that a particular product is worth buying.

pricing quote Thoreau Kara Lambert Business coach

Here’s how it works.

Choi, Lee, & Ji (2012) documented three ways that the 9-ending wields its power over consumers: left to right processing (truncation), perceived gain, and price image.

Left to right processing
While only applicable where prices are, culturally, read left to right – this seems to be one of the most commonly quoted reasons for using 9-ending pricing. Choi, Lee, & Ji described it as when we only recognised the left most numbers and forget those on the right. This is also called truncation, as the price is truncated (cut short).

Perceived gain
This is an adaptation of the left to right processing, in so far that the price is perceived as being a 0-ending number with a small gain. In this instance a price of $19 999, would be perceived by the customer as $20 000 with a $1 gain. This is probably the most commonly believed scenario in 9-ending pricing.

Price Image
This is where the 9-ending price is perceived as being cheaper than the competitor’s price and that it is a discounted (sales) price. While Choi, Lee, & Ji gave these definitions, Schindler (2006) discovered that although 9-ending was perceived as being cheaper, it was more often not the case. Schindler also found that 9-ending prices (and 98) were believed, by consumers, as not having been increased recently.

All in all, Choi, Lee, & Ji found that regardless of the mechanism, when it matches the consumer’s motivation to purchase, consumers committed more of the price to memory & had better recall (price recall was the focus of the paper).

9-ending products are cheaper

So let’s start with the elephant in the room. We all believe that if we market our products with a 9-ending, the customers will believe it’s cheaper and will flock to buy it. Right? Well, in reality it’s more like a ‘yes & no’ or a ‘depends’ (oh how I love that word).

So while we set the prices with the belief that clients will drop off the end numbers and see it as being the cheapest product around, the reality is a bit different. So it won’t surprise you that Schindler  found that although 99-ending prices were believed as being the cheapest around, in fact they often weren’t. That said, they also found that the 99-ending was related (significant positive correlation) to a low price appeal in consumers.

Guéguen & Legoherel found that if an odd number (9 for example) followed a round number (0) then consumers believed that they were receiving a bigger discount. They also found that the perceived discount increased as the price increased. However, the effect stopped once the price reached FF 100. (This study was done in France prior to the introduction of the Euro) Similarly, Bizer & Schindler (2005) found that 9-ending prices meant that consumers estimated that they could buy more of an item than was actually possible. Perhaps we just don’t like our 9-times tables!

Similarly Schindler found that both 98 and 99 price endings were perceived by customers as having not recently been increased. While not necessary an indication of being cheaper, believing that a price hasn’t recently been increased should leave us feeling that we are ‘getting a bargain’ or ‘cheaper price’.

How 9-endings effect perception of quality

In my previous piece I went into deeper detail as to how this works. It’s interesting and worthwhile to note that Anderson & Simester found that the higher the price, the higher the perception of quality.

customer perception Kara Lambert business coaching

How is consumer motivation effects the appeal of 9-ending pricing?

Bizer & Schindler had a good overarching finding that if a consumer is not motivated to pay much attention to the price, then they are more likely to drop off the end numbers. So this is more likely when we really don’t have to think too much about the purchase. (They used the examples of toothpaste & paper towel)

Choi, Lee, & Ji had a similar finding that when the store’s message fits with the consumer’s focus then the consumer sees it as being relevant and will remember more of the price. So, if a consumer is motivated by quality and presented with a low-price 9-ending item, they won’t remember the price as well as if they were loriginally looking for a cheap item.

Schindler suggested that store managers add meaning (and motivation) by adding claims with the prices & this helps to reinforce the consumer’s belief that the 9-ending price is cheaper. They continue that the perceived discount, reinforced by the other visual merchandising cues, are often relied upon as the primary way to grab the consumer’s attention and that consumers are then learning to associate 9-ending prices with low price (because of the merchandising). While I think most businesses believe that this is one of the major mechanisms, there actually isn’t any proof of this and it removes the effect of the consumer’s underlying motivation to purchase in the first place.

Implications of this research into 9-ending pricing

In fact, Anderson & Simester believed that there was a real risk that the over use of 9-ending pricing will make it less effective as customers are less likely to believe that the item is actually low priced. While I tend to agree, 80 years of use seems to contradict this.

Bizer & Schindller quoted an interesting finding from Gedenk & Sattler (1999) that for the drop off effect to be profitable, only 3% of items actually needed to use the principle. So to some degree it seems that businesses are actually overusing the 9-ending pricing to attract appropriately motivated clients. (Though I seriously doubt that they are properly considering the motivation of their customers)

However, Anderson & Simester offered the following practical advice:
If a product had a 9-ending price and was paired with a ‘Sale’ & a ‘New’ merchandising prompt, sales increased by 3.9%.
If a product had a 9-ending price and was paired with a ‘New’ merchandising prompt, sales increased by 8.5%.

It seems that while getting a bargain is a good motivator, FOMO is a better motivator.

7 Pricing tips for business owners - Kara Lambert Business Psychology Pricing Psychology

7 Things You Need To Know About Odd and Even Pricing

My favourite article on pricing by Nick Kolenda had me thinking about a few things around pricing. Firstly, what is it about odd and even pricing that affects our buying behaviour and secondly what is it about that 99-cent ending?!

Now lucky for both you and I I have spent a ridiculous number of years reading journal articles for research. In fact, some might think me crazy that I actually prefer to read a journal article over a book (even a non-fiction). So it won’t surprise you that I got carried away with my reading and read 11 articles in total. From those articles I actually have two and a half pages of notes on odd and even pricing and 9-ending pricing.

Before you start hyperventilating, I’m not going to go through all of the articles in one blog post. That would just be cruel and I have to be honest, too confusing. So what I’ve decided to do is to split off the topics and write them up as separate posts; one on odd & even pricing and the other on 9-ending pricing. Not being one to circumvent a story and cut to the climax, I’m going to start at the start and odd and even pricing.

The one thing that hit me in the Kolenda article was the effect of ending on emotional reaction to a price. This is exactly the point where I begin my research. I started with the 2013 paper of Lynn, Flynn, & Helion and their research into round numbers (those ending in 5 or 0 as compared to the remaining numbers). They conducted an analysis of data from three studies where clients could pay with a credit card and the ‘product’ was fuel, the tip on a restaurant bill, or software. The interesting thing was that the software purchases were made in a ‘Pay What You Want’ (PWYW) style, where the customer paid whatever they chose (an increasingly popular choice online). This research was of particular interest due to the increasing popularity of pay what you want promotions online.

Price vs Value Warren Buffett Quote Kara Lambert Business Psychology

So in general terms what did they find out about 0 or 5 ending prices?

Preference

The first finding that they had was that a 0 or 5 ending was more common across all of the studies they analysed. Why was this significant? Well, because all of the studies had the option to pay by credit card, where cash handling was not required.

People find it easier to remember (this one is key for the 9-ending article), process, & perform mathematical operations when the number ends in 5 or 0. The implication for this is that we tend to like things we find easier and will develop a preference for these numbers. They even found research where 66% of people asked said they actually preferred those numbers.

They also discussed the finding that 0 or 5 endings are more likely when a person is guessing or estimating an amount. I believe that this refers back to our preference for the familiar & the ease of mathematical processing.

Here’s what was found more specifically

Pay what you want pricing.

Lynn, Flynn, & Helion found that more of the PWYW payments were whole dollar amounts. They were interested by this as the transactions occurred online and paid by credit card, so the dislike of calculating or handling change was not a consideration. Additionally they found that while, of the payments over $1, 13% ended in a 0 and an amazing 42% ended in a 5; both of which occurred more often than you can expect by chance.

Tipping

Ok, so not really of major importance here in Australia, but certainly of interest to those in hospitality. Remember as you are reading the following that all of the payments were made by credit card, meaning that no actual cash-handling took place.

The main finding was that 73% of people left a whole dollar tip. So not overly surprising there, especially when you consider the general finding that we prefer whole numbers. Though of interest was that 25% of people left a tip where the most right-handed digit was a 5 (be that dollars or cents).

For those of you in hospitality and wondering about the big tippers, here’s some news. Of the tips greater than, or equal to, $11 – 20% of them ended in a 0 (cents or dollars). Now that’s promising!

My personal favourite was the following finding.

Where the bill did not end in a whole dollar amount (there were cents), 23% of people used the tip to round the bill to a whole dollar amount when the tip was added in. This finding confirms that for some people, there need for a round price is greater than their dislike for mathematical operations and their ease (or difficulty) in processing.

Our love of 5 or 0 endings

So, in addition to their finding that people will undertake mathematical processes to have a round number in the total bill; Lynn, Flynn, & Helion found the following...

These numbers were also preferred by customers purchasing fuel at a service station when they:
- paid with a credit card and received a receipt
- they only considered the whole dollar amount, and
- they only purchased fuel.
This is interesting to consider if you are offering a self-service product.

Perception of quality based on price ending

Lynn, Flynn, & Helion reported that the 0 or 5 ending numbers were positively associated with a customer believing that the product was of higher quality & resulted in more sales, but this was only the case when they were interested in buying a high quality item. In fact, the opposite was the case and other numbers were associated with a discount or a ‘good deal’, leading to increased sales, when the customer was interested in a cheaper price or a ‘good deal’. So what’s the takeaway from this one? You need to know why your customer comes to purchase from you – price or quality! There’s no getting around the fact that you really need to understand what motivates your clients.

Wilkie, Manning, Sprott, & Badenhausen (2015) found similar results in their research into odd & even pricing. They discovered that items of even pricing had a higher perceived quality over odd pricing. Interestingly, these even priced items were also perceived as being more expensive.

Pricing and Quality Peter Drucker Quote Kara Lambert Business Psychology Pricing Psychology

Pricing and personal motivation

Wilkie et al had another interesting finding and that was around motivation.

They discovered that the intention to go and buy an item was higher for odd rather than even prices. However, the initial motivation to purchase (quality vs good deal) was an important influencer of the final perception of the product and intention to purchase. This last finding reinforces the finding of Lynn et al in so far that the client’s motivation to purchase (quality vs deal) effects how they react to the pricing (odd vs even or 5 vs 0). I believe the fact that 0 is perceived as even has baring on how people perceive 0-ending prices as being higher quality (and more expensive).

Bundling of products or services

Lynn et al found that when two products were bundled together, a 5 or 0 ending increased the attractiveness of the other product in the bundle. This is important to remember when you bundle goods and/or services to increase revenue. The use of these numbers will increase buyer perception of quality and increase the attractiveness of the additional product.

Further to the findings of Lynn, Flynn, & Holien, Baumgartner & Hähnchen (2016) looked further into the pricing of bundles. They found that the preference for a bundle increased when both items were priced with even amounts rather than odd. The researchers believed that this was suggestive of even numbers representing higher quality. The 2016 research found that the greatest purchasing probability occurred when both items were labelled with even prices and the total bundle amount was odd. (Their research was into odd and even prices regardless of value)

Price ending and negotiated pricing

Klumpp, Brorsen, & Anderson (2005), looked into grain pricing in Texas. They found that prices ending in a 5 or a 0 were more prevalent. Grain prices are set by the producer and then there is a handling fee added by the grain merchant, this fee can be negotiated. They found that when the fee was negotiated the effect was more prices ending in a 5 or a 0. This suggests that if your pricing is open to negotiation, consider the risk or cost of being negotiated to either of these points, or force the negotiation to one of them for a more amicable arrangement.

Isaac, Schindler, Wang (2014) investigated 5 or 0 endings in relation to debt recovery. (I have to say that this was one of the more interesting articles personally) They found that debts ending in 5 or 0 were more likely to be repaid in full. Personally, I will now consider rounding my debts to these points when chasing overdue payments.

So what were my major takeaways from reading these pricing papers that I haven’t gotten elsewhere?

Even priced products and services are perceived as being of higher quality than odd and that intention to purchase based on quality is set by what motivates the buyer.

If you value and promote the quality of your offer, you are better off using an even price.

The pricing of a bundle of items requires that the items be even priced but the total bundle price be odd.

If setting suggested prices for a Pay What You Want promotion, you should only use whole dollar amounts and preferably prices that end in 5 or 0.

Debts are more likely to be paid in full if they end in a 5 or a 0 and to consider this when looking to recover debts.

The next instalment summarises the papers I read about 9-ending prices. I have come across some interesting history, beliefs, and theories.