Archive | April, 2020

MI4P Content – Your Blog Content (#1004)

28 Apr

empty.gif

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.

empty.gif

Post to Your Blog

empty.gif

MI4P Content – Your Blog Content (#1002)

23 Apr
empty.gif

empty.gifGettyImages-500963070.jpg

Is Direct Mail Safe During COVID-19?

In fast-moving and uncertain situations, communication can be a challenge.

While you may have been temporarily stalled by the dramatic changes of the last month, now is the right time to be proactive in your customer connections. Crisis communication specialists tell us that, in hard times, communicating early and often is crucial.

The decisions you make now are essential for your business to survive today and to thrive later on.

Why Direct Mail is Still a Trustworthy Source

Reports of postal workers testing positive for the novel coronavirus may have raised some concerns that the pathogen could live on letters and packages, potentially exposing people to infection just from opening their mail or packages. But the U.S. Postal Service has assured us that the mail is still safe:

“There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can spread through the mail,” the postal service said recently, alluding to the disease caused by the virus and citing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Most businesses are still mailing at this time, but if you have questions about direct mail marketing, you are not alone. It’s important to be ready with answers for your customers, preferably from reliable sources like the Center for Disease Control:

“Although the virus can survive for a short period on some surfaces, it is unlikely to be spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures,” says the CDC. “Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with [mail and packages] and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.”

Because the virus is not spread through the skin, but through the respiratory tracks, any contact with mail or packages is not an immediate danger. Regular hand-washing and proper hygiene are the most important factors for mitigating any risk with envelopes, packages, or really with any contaminated surfaces.

What Kind of Mail Should I Send?

Since people are currently hungry for connection, there is no better time to lean into your marketing efforts.

But be sensitive in doing this, and offer messages of hope and relief. Dartmouth professor Paul Argenti offers these tips for communicating during a crisis:

Focus on What is Important to the Customer

For example, Target sent out a note from the CEO to customers, describing enhanced cleaning procedures and additional staffing for order pickup and drive-up services.

Provide Relief When Possible

JetBlue became the first airline to waive change and cancel fees for coronavirus-related concerns. The move went a long way towards reassuring current customers as well as bringing new ones on board. Insurance companies, in contrast, do not consider the coronavirus a valid reason for canceling a flight.

Focus on Empathy Instead of Pushing Sales

Be creative, but keep empathy in mind. Companies should reshape advertising and promotion strategies to be more in line with the current mood of the day.

Watch for Those Silver Linings

While we’re all in unfamiliar territory right now, everyone wants to support each other.

Businesses care about customers, and all of us care about economic recovery. Keep reaching out to your clients and remember that this is only temporary. While this situation won’t last, many positive outcomes will!

The lessons we learn today can make us more flexible, strategic, and more community-minded.

empty.gif

Post to Your Blog

empty.gif

MI4P Content – Your Blog Content (#1001)

17 Apr
empty.gif

empty.gif

empty.gif

empty.gif

GettyImages-673563798.jpg

Leading with Empathy During Uncertain Times

COVID-19 is officially a pandemic, and millions of Americans are working at home.

Even if you aren’t sick, you feel the impact of this pandemic. As the coronavirus has spread across the globe, the CDC has made drastic recommendations on social distancing, self-quarantines, and statewide “stay at home” mandates.

Through this unprecedented season, what are some of the best ways to navigate your professional challenges?

“I Feel Your Pain”

Empathy is one of the best starting points.

Defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another,” empathy allows you to comprehend what another person is experiencing or to put yourself in their position.

Empathy is the ability to perceive a situation from another person’s frame of reference, and possibly to experience the emotions that go with that. Empathy is different from just “being kind” because empathy is a powerful tool that allows you to truly understand points of view that are vastly different than yours. A person leading with empathy is more aware of overworked employees, overtaxed customers, or solutions that another person may overlook.

The benefits of empathy are huge. A recent nursing study showed that nurse managers who were perceived as empathetic could boost vitality and thriving environments in their teams. Empathetic leaders can communicate better with employees and customers, build bridges of trust, and can facilitate optimal employee performance and compliance. And this brings exponential gain: organizations with engaged employees have higher productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, and loyalty.

Empathy in leadership can manifest in many ways with regard to the coronavirus response. Here are just three:

1. Be Calm

During any crisis, people need their leaders to remain calm and to empathize with their thoughts or feelings.

While you may not share the emotions of your customers or employees, it’s ok to acknowledge feelings of anxiety or stress. When possible, share resources that promote facts, not fear (like information from the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control), in order to help people intellectually interpret the outbreak.

2. Be Flexible

With many people working from home (with kids in tow!), some employees may struggle.

Leaders should be considerate of missed deadlines, unforeseen health emergencies, and emotions bubbling near the surface. Remember, things are not “business as usual,” and special times require special considerations. Above all, flexible managers are consistently leading AND responding. Simply directing employees to available support resources can make a huge difference.

3. Be Available

Not everyone is empathetic by nature, so this is a great time to check your own heart.

Examine yourself daily and ask: Am I really listening? Am I taking in others’ points of view? Ask for feedback from people you trust or solicit comments through neutral channels. Or set up work-from-home chats where people can share tips, information, advice, or inspiration as everyone adjusts to a new normal.

Natural routines can also go a long way toward building confidence – consider morning huddles, or regular conference call “office hours” to offer an open door for people in their most vulnerable moments.

Be Positive and Proactive

Still not sure how to show grace?

Perhaps the best strategy is to change your perspective. Instead of prioritizing outcomes or objectives, use this time to focus on your own leadership. Ideally, you should be a coach, a therapist, a sounding board, and a support system to your employees. Allow people to chat candidly and comically, and make room for a few failures.

Create margin during this roller coaster, and everyone will benefit!

empty.gif

Post to Your Blog

empty.gif

MI4P Content – Your Blog Content (#1000)

15 Apr
empty.gif

empty.gif

GettyImages-1092581362.jpg

Responsible Marketing During COVID-19

Fear. Stress. Helplessness.

Whether you’re caring for elderly parents or homeschooling your kids, people across the globe are struggling with big emotions during the COVID-19 situation.

How do you lead well in times like these? While daily leadership is essential for your business, crisis moments reveal the quality of your vision like nothing else. And while you may be exhausted or overwhelmed, now is not the time to push pause on your leadership. What are the “next best steps” you can take in this hour of uncertainty?

1. Increase the Frequency of Communication

During hard times, the frequency of communication should go through the roof.

Even if you have bad news, it’s important to acknowledge this ASAP. While you may not have all the details, a prompt announcement can minimize speculation, reassure panicked contacts, and let people know that you are proactively addressing each challenge.

2. Be Authentic

Now, more than ever, people are craving connection.

Since many of your customers and subscribers are working from the kitchen table, this is an important chance to re-tool your communication. Get in touch with your own feeling of isolation and use this to inform your messaging. From email communication to print mailings, review all your messages through the lens of people who are stuck at home. Ditch the corporate-speak and seek a more human tone for your brand, and use this framework to empower empathy while focusing on others’ needs.

3. Break Up the Depressive Mindset

All of us need a break from 24/7 bad news. So, how can you bring positivity in this hour?

Noting the deluge of video-conferencing, Audi of America recently launched a series of specially curated images to serve as a glamorous backdrop in virtual meeting rooms. Now enthusiasts can bring their favorite Audi with them to their next conference call or virtual happy hour, and Audi plans to release new images weekly. Simple pleasures make a big difference in tough moments!

Now, make it personal. How can you sound a note of joy or generosity today? Could you post a funny video, release a helpful blog, highlight hero stories, or offer incentives that benefit customers or people on the front lines?

Or look at your own product mix and ask: “what could I change to help my customers?” Do you have a paid or premium service that you could offer for free to help people get by over the next few months?

4. Sow Seeds of Honor

When you look at your schedule today, things seem rather quiet and eerie.

Companies of all sizes have sent people home, and every distraction has been silenced. While the coronavirus has ushered in strange times for all, good leaders won’t just hunker down. Instead, it’s time to push back with a different spirit.

In an age of mocking and disdain, today is a great day to show respect and gratitude. Whether personally or professionally, use this forced pause to repair a strained relationship, to say thank you, or to serve others. Make that difficult phone call. Donate blood or serve at your local food pantry. Show public or private appreciation for your leaders. And appreciate people who don’t deserve it (despite their inadequacies).

As you honor people, they will honor others. Perhaps this is a chance to shift the atmosphere and proactively build honor into the fabric of your network. As a leader, you WILL set the pace for others.

Connection is the New Currency

Though today’s challenges are extreme, it’s important to remember they’re only temporary.

It may not be easy, but many of us will come out of this stronger. Though it may feel that the waves are continuing to rise, take heart. Prioritize connection, and the uncharted waters can be parted in order to lead you toward a prosperous future and a newfound hope.

empty.gif

Post to Your Blog

empty.gif

MI4P Content – Your Blog Content (#999)

11 Apr
empty.gif

empty.gif

GettyImages-1160030415.jpg

Add Drama and Depth with Custom White Balance

Have you ever struggled to take a classy (yet natural) family picture?

Or photographed an incredible wilderness scene, only to be sorely disappointed by flat results? If the world has so much wonder, why is capturing that majesty so tricky?

Many photos are simply too dark or too light, with awkward shadows, blinding background rays, or glaring reflections (think Grandma’s glasses!). The color can seem artificial or just washed out. But photos with proper lighting come alive, creating a drama and depth that resonates with viewers on a heart-stirring level.

Whether you adjust your camera on the front end or edit the photo later, here are some tricks to getting the photo balance just right!

Adjusting Your Digital Camera Settings

Different sources of light have varying color hues, so a picture taken with a normal white balance under artificial lighting conditions transmits low heat to the camera’s sensor, resulting in dull yellow or orange shades in the photo.

Though human eyes can automatically adjust lights and color temperatures to “sense” the right color, a camera needs to be adjusted to different lights for accurate color reproduction. By adjusting the white balance setting of your digital camera before you start shooting, you can produce the most accurate colors in your image.

Most upscale digital cameras include presets like these:

Tungsten: Best for indoor shoots under a little light bulb.

Fluorescent: Grabs brighter, warmer shots while compensating for cool fluorescent tones.

Cloudy: Warms up a subject and its surroundings when natural light is limited.

Shade: Useful for warming up the surroundings that have a cooler, bluer tone.

You can also adjust your camera manually by setting a white object as the reference point.

To manually set the white balance in your image, take a photo of something white in the same location (and under the same light) you intend to shoot. Then go to your camera’s shooting menu, choose white balance settings, and select the image you just photographed by pressing the “set” or “Ok” button. This will enable you to customize a white balance setting for your next round of photos, resulting in more neutral, natural shades and less post-production editing.

Mastering Post-Production Tints and Temps

Suppose you get the perfect photo, but the colors aren’t quite right.

Adobe Lightroom can help!

Adobe Lightroom is an inexpensive post-processing program used by designers worldwide. In the past, developing exquisite images required excellent photos, nuanced darkroom abilities, and expensive equipment. In contrast, Lightroom allows even beginners to normalize light tones they weren’t able to land in-camera.

When you’re ready to edit the balance in a photo, here are three methods:

Option 1: In Adobe Lightroom, adjust white balance with the eyedropper tool or use the preset menu that best describes the lighting conditions you shot in.

Option 2: Using the white balance drop-down list, manually drag the “temp” and “tint” sliders in the WB panel to adjust how warm or cool your image is.

Option 3: Select the “White Balance Selector” tool in the White Balance Panel (or for a shortcut, press “W” and scan across your image to locate an area that has a neutral grey color to serve as a reference point). Once you click this grey or neutral area, the appropriate white balance settings will be applied to the entire image.

If you don’t like the result, simply use the reset button to remove all adjustments.

In the Eye of the Beholder

Sound tricky?

Don’t sweat it. There is really no “perfect” white balance because the best contrast is what looks pleasing to YOUR eye. In the end, learning and experimenting is half the fun! Reach out to us if you’d like to learn more about adding the perfect white balance to your next piece.

empty.gif

Post to Your Blog

empty.gif

MI4P Content – Your Blog Content (#996)

2 Apr

empty.gif

GettyImages-1138947362.jpg

4 Strategies to Curb Communication Breakdowns

They say the only sure thing about communication is that we tend to get it wrong.

If communication between two family members is a challenge, how much harder is communication at work? Have you ever experienced a team “fail” like this?

  • After meetings, people don’t seem to know what was said or what’s coming next. It’s like the meeting never occurred.
  • After training on a new procedure, only one person recalls the protocol.
  • Following a brainstorming session, everyone assumes someone else is covering the “next step.” The ball is dropped, resulting in blame, disillusionment, and embarrassment.

Make Your Messages Stick

Everyone knows communication is critical to success.

To run a thriving business, employees, managers, and CEOs need to communicate clearly and effectively. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of short circuits in this process, which can result in angry employees, difficult HR situations, and lost profit.

What can you do to improve team communication? Here are a few suggestions from some of today’s best leaders:

1. Kick Silo Doors Open

Many teams work well together but fail to communicate with the larger organization.

Communication silos occur when people in different departments don’t collaborate or connect to the bigger company vision. Enon Landenberg, founder and CEO of tech consulting company sFBI, says this is common:

“It’s very possible for departments to focus too much on their own work and miss out on the big ideas that only come from collaboration,” Landenberg said. “Egos [can prevent] honest discussions about the quality of work, necessary improvements and fresh ideas.”

To avoid this problem, send weekly briefings to the entire company and regularly schedule time for divisions or leaders to connect on projects, questions, or suggestions.

2. Limit Email Communication

When employees receive too many emails, they will start forgetting and ignoring the information they receive.

According to Jeff Corbin, founder and CEO of APPrise Mobile, urgent messages should always be relayed by phone or in person. And when it comes to email conversations, Corbin says this:

“[I follow] the three-email rule: After three messages, we talk.”

Simplify not only the amount of email but the language you use. When technical jargon abounds, you increase the chance for errors because people can’t understand you!

3. Squash the Gossip

News travels quickly, especially if it’s bad.

Some rumors are just silly, but many contain an exaggerated seed of truth. Managers should address issues head-on rather than mopping up messes later. Even if you can’t share all the details, giving people a snapshot of the situation will build confidence and quiet dissension.

4. Lead Engaging Meetings

When people fail to listen, their minds are probably elsewhere.

The burden of communication is yours, so make meetings concise and engaging. Share the purpose of a meeting immediately, and conclude with assignments and action steps. Train managers to share only the most essential information and to use stories to illustrate a point. (e.g. “Yesterday, I got a phone call from our largest shareholder, and guess what they said?”)

Megachurch pastor Craig Groeschel says this:

“Work to keep your meetings small and your communication large. Too many [leaders] make the mistake of including too many people in too many meetings. The purpose of the meeting determines its size and . . . [it is important to] keep the discussion moving. Maintain a sense of polite urgency, pushing hard enough to keep the meeting moving but not so hard that discussion and decision-making is rushed.”

Eliminating miscommunication can head off a whole host of problems, so be intentional and make improvements each day!

empty.gif

Post to Your Blog

empty.gif