Show Me the Money!

Posted on February 3, 2009 by LCT Staff - Also by this author

I must admit, all this talk of recession is getting on my nerves a bit. It seems as if every day I’m getting emails from operators panicked and worried that they are going to go under or see such a big drop in business that they’ll struggle to get by and pay their bills.

The sad thing is that most of them are right! Not because there’s not enough business to go around nor because people are spending less, but because they’re choosing to accept that a recession exists. It doesn’t have to. Not for everyone, anyway. Sure, it’s easy to think that when something like a recession comes along that we all have to “tighten our belts,” curb our non-essential spending, and ride out the storm until the next upswing. But that’s because we’ve been trained to think that way. We’ve also trained ourselves to think that way. The only reason so many people get hit so hard during recessions is they choose to play the recession game.

Typically we see our client list get smaller so we start to discount prices to attract more business. But the clients still don’t come so we discount them even more. If we’re lucky, we may see a brief rise in business for now because we’re charging less, working longer hours, and earning less money. But we’re still in danger of losing clients as the recession kicks in.

This is what most operators will do. In fact, from the emails I’m receiving, many are already doing it! So that’s the bad news, but like I said, it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s something you can do TODAY to not only avoid the recession but thrive during it. You can stop being a “luxury service” to your clients and start becoming an asset. What do I mean? Well, what’s the first thing that goes out the window when people struggle financially? Luxuries, right? Or in marketing speak, “non-essential spending,” meaning everything that’s not essential to that person’s ability to get through life.

Food, mortgage, utilities, etc. are all essentials that people MUST have. New cars, personal training, opera tickets, and limousines, on the other hand are, for most people, luxurious non-essentials that are cut as soon as the R-word begins to be taken seriously.

Here’s the problem; the way most operators market themselves is based upon the “luxury” or “premium” model. Yet, we sell our services based on price and chase business that will all quit using chauffeured service with us when the price seems too high. Yet consider this; there are groups of people out there who don’t consider ANY price as expensive or luxurious. They simply decide what they want and are determined to get it because they see it as a benefit.

There’s a subset of consumers who can pay that kind of money and who don’t worry about inflation, depression, or recession. They simply know what they want and are willing to pay the price to get it.

I know of a personal trainer charging $12,000 per week for services. Yes, you read that right — per person per week. And this is going on during a so-called downturn. How is he doing this? By removing himself from the luxury market of people who have to scrimp and scrape to work with him and instead focusing his efforts on those with greater affluence — those who know what they want and are happy to pay for it regardless of the percentage rate the banks charge. To them, it simply doesn’t matter.

If you’re thinking, “That’s all great, but how does this benefit me?” then here’s your answer. Put your prices... UP! Seriously, put your prices up. Move away from those who consider your services to be a luxury and instead start marketing to the affluent and the wealthy.

Sound too mercenary? It’s not. Working with the affluent is no easy ride. You’ll earn every single penny you get from them. They expect better service, better results, and, well, better everything. And they’re right. After all, they’re paying for that service. They’re paying for exclusivity, for that “something extra.” So you’ve got to be better and, more importantly, you must be seen as better. And better is more expensive — no ifs, no buts.

I realize this contradicts everything you’ve ever been told about a recession, but it has worked before. Putting your prices up, taking your business “up market,” and deliberately attracting the affluent is the best way to recession-proof your business. Still not sure? Try this; add a high-end service to your marketing materials. Call it “platinum level,” or whatever you want. But aim it toward clients looking for something special instead of a simple people-mover. Proudly state that you’re the most expensive service around and then wait. It may take a little while, but sure enough, you’ll come to know that what I’m telling you is correct.

They’re out there with money in hand. Ready, willing, and most able to pay you every single penny you are worth. They always have been — you just never asked before. Now, go ask and earn!

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