The Key to Raising Prices Without Sacrificing Customers

raise prices and keep customers

It’s a challenge every business faces at some point in its life cycle—the need to raise prices in order to maintain operations and secure revenue to finance future growth. But the marketplace is littered with companies that attempted to achieve this goal but lost much of their valued customer base. One wrong step along the price-increase process and customers can feel mistreated, alienated and turned off enough to no longer purchase the company’s goods or services, even if they’ve been rewarded in the past with quality care and products.

The key to raising prices is designing the right strategy, coupled with a sense of timing and an all-out communications effort to persuade a loyal customer base that the price hike is both appropriate and promising of better things to come. Here are tactics to consider when you’re ready to raise prices:

Leave no ambiguity about the services you provide. Hopefully, you’ve laid the groundwork to clearly differentiate between what your business provides and how it stacks up compared to what’s offered by the competition. But it never hurts to further expand upon how your specific solutions effectively address problems that your customers can’t find elsewhere.

A good time for a price hike is when you can upgrade your product’s differentiating factor into an even more streamlined solution for the problems your customers face.

Incorporate price hikes in your strategic plans. Some companies mistakenly wait for what seems to customers an arbitrary time to suddenly announce a price increase in their goods and services. Instead, consider incorporating a comprehensive pricing strategy as part of your long-range business objectives, thus anticipating the influence of market forces, competitive gains in the marketplace, and other factors.

Being in a position where you can anticipate the next scheduled price hike enables you to prepare your customer base for that eventuality.

Investigate tiered pricing opportunities. Different customers may be willing to pay different prices for your business offerings. Multiple price points often make sense for retail and service businesses but can be applied to any business that offers a tiered pricing system with varying levels of service (or product upgrades) at different prices. This approach also gets customers more comfortable with price increases, making it possible to introduce across-the-board price hikes at a later date.

Communicate intentions in a positive light. Any increase in costs to customers will incur some level of push-back. For this reason, it’s critically important to communicate ahead of time your intention to take this step. Moreover, framing your message in a positive light—rather than blaming inflation or your own manufacturing/distribution expenses—can smooth the path toward eventual acceptance.

Emphasise your ongoing commitment to the highest product quality and most efficient customer service, as well as any investments your business has made in expanding personnel or acquiring state-of-the-art technology. Price increases go down better if the customer feels your business is spending money to improve its quality for them.

Test a price increase. It’s natural to expect objections from customers, but that’s not always the case with a rise in prices. “Your best customers might even wonder why you haven’t done it sooner,” notes Small Business BC, which adds that if you do have concerns about your existing client basis, “you could always introduce the changed pricing on new clients only.” This helps you gauge the effect of higher prices for your products in the marketplace.

Finally, help cushion the impact of a proposed rise in prices by offering one-time consultation services or another form of specialised assistance to your customers. This demonstrates how important they are to you, as well as your willingness to go above and beyond on their behalf.

Want to learn more about strategic planning and price increases? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!



Make Your Marketing Message Contagious  

Make Your Marketing Message Contagious copy

Jonah Berger first caught my attention in this Fast Company article (“Fifty Percent of ‘The Tipping Point’ is Wrong”). The article positions him as the new Malcolm Gladwell and in fact, points out a number of flaws with The Tipping Point findings. To his credit, Gladwell was not defensive, pointed out that he is a writer and storyteller and conveyed respect for Berger.

Berger is a Marketing Professor at the Wharton School of Business. At Stanford, he was a student of Chip Heath, author of the marketing classic “Made to Stick”. Made to Stick describes why messages stick with audiences. Berger has taken this concept a step further in his bestselling book Contagious: Why Things Catch On. Berger examines why certain products get more word-of-mouth marketing and why some online content goes viral.

In the Fast Company article, Berger says marketers have been obsessed with the wrong part of the viral equation. “By focusing so much on the messenger, we’ve neglected a much more obvious driver of sharing: the message,” he writes. The Tipping Point’s notion that social epidemics are driven “by the efforts of a handful of exceptional people, is just plain wrong.”

Viral Marketing Spread Review Event Feedback ConceptInstead, Berger has identified six reasons why certain products have great worth-of-mouth marketing and why content goes viral (acronym STEPPS):

  • Social Currency. We share things that make us look good. For example, if we are able to inform other people about a trendy new smartphone app that we discovered, it makes us look good…and, increases usage of the app.
  • Triggers. Ideas that are top of mind spread. Ideas become top of mind when they are activated by triggers which make people easily think of the product. Cheerios gets more word-of-mouth than Disney because it is so strongly associated with breakfast.
  • Emotion. When we care, we share. The author even cited tests where people who learned something during physical activity were more likely to pass along the concept.
  • Public. People tend to follow others, but only when they can see what those others are doing. Steve Jobs designed the Apple logo on the Mac so other people could see it when someone else is using a Mac. Ideas need to be public to be copied.
  • Practical. Humans crave the opportunity to give advice and offer tips…especially if they offer practical value. Berger has identified this ‘paying it forward’ to help others. No one will share a product or idea that does not have practical value to others.
  • Stories – People do not just share information, they tell stories. And stories are like Trojan horses that carry ideas and brands. To benefit the brand, stories must be interesting and also relate to a sponsoring company’s products.

This is a very interesting book and has a lot of great advice for marketers and product positioning. I do have two criticisms of the book. First, many of the stories are common knowledge. For example, the “Will it blend?” viral video series. So, while Berber may have the more scientifically sound theory of why ideas and products stick, he doesn’t have anything on the interesting stories that Gladwell shares in his books.

Second, Berger also explains that you can pick and choose which of the six viral reasons to use in your messaging. He said you can use one or select a couple to apply. This is a bit disconcerting. Perhaps the next round of Berger’s research will better package the six reasons. It is possible that certain packaging will work better than others, or that packaging too many will confuse your audience. That being said, I would recommend this book to any marketing professional.

Which of these techniques have you applied to your marketing efforts? Did they work? Have you tried to package multiple techniques? We’d appreciate your comments.


Social Media: To Hire or Outsource?


social media: hire our outsource

Like CEOs and business owners everywhere, TAB Members understand the ever-growing value of social media engagement. At the same time, they often despair of finding the time and resources needed to get fully involved in the social media realm—and thereby ceding its potential market value to their competitors.

A key element of this problem is determining whether to add yet another full-time position (in-house social media manager) or bring in a marketing agency that specialises in social media. Compelling arguments can be made for both options, but it comes down to each business’s place within its industry and the assessment of just how important social media can be in terms of future growth.

Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of the two options:

Social media agency


A social media agency has a lot to offer with respect to building platforms, generating content, posting at the right intervals and overall strategy. After all, these agencies “eat, sleep and breathe social media, and they have an array of experience across numerous industries,” notes marketing expert Jason DeMers. Such firms likely “have an understanding of which networks your company would most benefit from, and they know the ideal approach for execution of your campaign.”

Just as importantly, a first-class agency knows how to produce content on a regular basis—the type of content designed to draw prospective customers’ interest and otherwise steadily build greater awareness of your brand. They’re also experts in social media analytics, compiling and evaluating data that helps formulate a comprehensive social media marketing strategy.


The biggest challenge is, simply, the services of a good social media agency aren’t cheap. Fees will vary, but they’re often beyond the reach of startups and other early-stage businesses, as well as companies with limited budgets. An agency that contracts to provide a full range of services can run up a sizeable bill in a short period of time.

Also, a social media agency is unlikely to know the nuances of your brand, core products and services, and the audience you serve. The time involved in learning these subtleties can only add to the overall expense.

Social media manager


While it may take time to craft the proper in-house job description, then recruit and hire a social media manager, it’s still worth considering. After all, it probably takes just as long to search for and find the right social media agency. And when you go the in-house route, you get an individual who’s attuned to your company values and vision (especially if you’ve promoted from within)—the kind of knowledge that works best in communicating your message on social media.

“Having a person sit in your morning meetings, engage with your audience on a daily basis, and be privy to internal and external conversations will only make your platforms stronger,” notes marketing strategist Alex Honeysett.

An astute social media manager can, if the situation demands it, build from the ground up. This means establishing a solid foundation on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and any industry-related platforms on which your business should be represented.


Perhaps the greatest drawback with the in-house option is deciding to add “social media responsibilities” to an employee’s existing job description. As DeMers points out, when your employees are already busy, adding another task may be “simply asking too much.” This can easily “spread members too thin, leaving other areas of your work to suffer.”

It’s also critically important to hire an individual who’s well-versed in social media and has the right instinct for which platforms to target and which to bypass.

In the end, business owners must determine for themselves whether in-house or external resource is most appropriate. But we can all agree that in 2018 and beyond, social media is a force that must be reckoned with.

Want to learn more about marketing and planning for your business? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!


What to Include in Your B2B Marketing Plan

B2B Marketing Plan

Nowhere is the celebrated “buyer’s journey” more relevant than with B2B companies and their customers. With the vast array of digital resources at their command, these customers embark on the journey by conducting extensive research, comparing companies and exploring social media—sometimes well before they make direct contact with the business they’re most interested in.

As a result, B2B companies need to “up” their marketing game, in order to be ready when the buyer’s journey leads to them. Here are tips for key elements and action steps for a marketing plan that keeps your business “top of mind” for current and prospective customers:

Focus on your core audience. Some businesses try—and generally, fail—to be all things to all customers. An effective marketing plan should focus on a clearly defined customer segment, so as to avoid diluting the appeal and effectiveness of a company’s key products or services.

Tailor content to meet that audience’s needs. The type of content you offer to customers (website, blog posts, articles, white papers, etc.) is a crucial element of any marketing plan. This, in turn, means thoroughly understanding what drives your customers—their needs, desires, pain points, etc.

“You need to know how your buyers like to buy and what they respond to,” notes Forbes contributor AJ Agrawal. “This will put you in the best possible position to sway them to making a purchase.”

Creating a comprehensive buyer’s persona to help with both marketing and sales leads is one highly effective way to ensure you’re hitting the right note in your content efforts.

Refresh the content and design of your website. Remember, the buyer’s journey almost always includes a visit to your B2B website. It’s in your company’s best interests to ensure that a consistent and appealing marketing message is built into virtually every page on that site. Don’t let old material or an unchanging homepage discourage potential interest.

As always, your site must also be user-friendly and informative (meaning, little or no fluff!), with a focus on how your products or services benefit the customer, as opposed to making your company look good.

Commit to a strong social media presence. Buyers will usually check out your company’s presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other industry-specific social networking sites. If you’re not already doing so, 2018 is the right time to commit to an in-depth social media marketing strategy. This can include:

  • Using social media to gather data on customer preferences
  • Becoming an industry thought leader through high-quality, customer-focused content
  • Engaging in two-way communications with customers and prospects
  • Monitoring online discussions of your industry

Your B2B marketing plan should specify the kinds of social media initiatives and activities planned for the new year and, ideally, assign this key responsibility to an individual or team with experience in this area.

Write a plan that’s clear and accessible throughout the company. While assembling the B2B marketing plan, keep in mind that shifting industry conditions may require a re-examination of basic ideas and strategies throughout the coming year. Consider assigning a knowledgeable team member with the responsibility to review the plan on a regular basis—identifying those elements and marketing goals that still make sense to pursue and refining other strategies that may have been rendered irrelevant by new market conditions.

The “marketing environment is always dynamic,” notes marketing technology expert Anita Brearton. “Create your strategy and plans in a way so you can adjust quickly to changing marketing conditions and customer requirements.”

Want to learn more about marketing and planning for your business? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!



Must Haves for Impactful Business Event Planning

business event planning

Event planning may seem like a business-related activity that has little do with a CEO or business owner’s primary responsibilities. In fact, a high-profile business event can significantly affect the quality of a company’s brand recognition efforts—in itself, a top priority for any business leader. So it’s important that an event that represents your business be planned and executed with the right commitment to quality and value.

Events are an extension of a company’s broad-range marketing efforts and can exert considerable influence among existing and prospective customers. In order to achieve the most from your event planning efforts, keep these factors in mind:

Decide what your key objectives are. If the event features a new product launch, the overall goal is likely to be alerting the world at large about this dynamic new offering. If the event centres around customer appreciation, different goals around retention would be at the forefront. Whatever the theme, you should have a clear idea of the desired end-result as the planning process gets underway.

Highlight the experiential factor. Event programme specialist Ben Hindman emphasises the “experience” factor behind every successful event. This often starts with the right selection of venue, he says, adding that “if your venue doesn’t excite your guests, neither will your company or product.”

Other valuable roadshow event tips Hindman offers include:

  • Identify your “feeling” goal. Know what sentiment you want event participants to come away with. If the objective is to make your guests “feel like they’re part of something exclusive, then be diligent in making sure everything reflects that, from the invitation to the event photos.”
  • Go for emotion, not the hard sell. A truly memorable event is one in which attendees make new connections and have a favourable emotional experience. Avoid blatant promotion of your product, which is “tacky and a huge turnoff” for most people. Instead, “design an event around the most relevant, interesting theme, idea or debate in your industry.”

Harness social media to get attendees excited in advance. Who have you invited to attend your event and/or plan to highlight as “guest speakers”? If these individuals have large and enthusiastic numbers of followers on social media, encourage them to post news and updates about the event well ahead of time. This helps build that all-important buzz which spreads awareness and excitement among event participants. Also, have your own event planners stay active on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks to boost awareness and keep your company brand top-of-mind among followers.

Position the CEO or business owner as a thought leader. If you have some speaking engagement experience, consider highlighting your company’s event as a guest speaker—with the goal of boosting your reputation as an industry thought leader. This means setting aside blatant self-promotion and/or internal sales quotas, focusing instead on offering insights into your industry that event attendees will profit from. In this way, your reputation will grow as a perceptive and generous thought leader—further enhancing your company’s brand in the process.

With the right focus and planning, your company can host an event that generates renewed interest and excitement in your brand. Yes, expenses are involved, but when dedicated to the right areas—venue, refreshments, compelling guest speakers—the experience will be one that people remember for a long time, and which they associate in a highly favourable way with your business overall.

Want to learn more about branding and event planning? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!