*Disclaimer: This post might make you uncomfortable. The truth often does. However, know that it’s probably not totally your fault that you feel this way. Society has bred us humans to be uncomfortable about money and it takes a lot of self-work to reach beyond the fears, conditioning, and doubt to thrive. Often years of work. So my hope is that through this article you’ll gain some sort of insight that can aid you on your quest to love how money can impact your world, so you can get past what’s holding you back to be the success in business you’re called to be.*
“Do you hate money?” That’s the question of the hour. The question to which you probably read and immediately thought, “Of course I don’t! That’s just plain silly!” But I bet you probably do… Let me explain with a story…
I don’t just operate my online business selling courses and digital products under my two brands. I also have retail stores in downtown Chambersburg, PA, so I know a little something about physical products, inventory, handling customers, etc. Since I spend a lot of time at these brick-and-mortar stores, I often meet my employees, contacts, and other locals at one of the adorable downtown coffee shops. One of the shops was recently sold to a company that has another coffee shop in another significantly larger city. They began making changes (as new owners usually do), and some of those changes have definitely been for the positive. However, some of the changes they’ve made, including changes to what they sell, have been met with resistance from the community… and because there hasn’t been a hard core tracking of their demographics and numbers, they may majorly miss the profit boat… and I can say they truly “hate money” because not only are they unwilling to serve some of their customers’ desires anymore, but they’re leaving a lot of potential income on the table as a result. They (like many business owners) have bought into several myths about money and business that unless proven with data—hard core tracking of the real day-to-day numbers—should not be believed. Here are the three most common myths business owners tend to believe… and why if you believe them too, it’s so dangerous to the overall health and growth of your business.
Myth #1: If I don’t like it, it won’t sell.
One of the things this coffee shop removed from their menu was a very popular drink. A drink that every employee I’ve talked to said they get asked about on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times per day. They claimed it was because of the sugar content in that drink and their desire to focus on healthier options, but the fact is that can’t possibly be the case as they’ve more than tripled their offering of sugar-loaded baked goods. Today I told the employee on duty that there are four reasons why a business owner may choose to stop selling something:
- The supplier stopped offering it. (Which is almost always not the case.)
- The price went up (or they just wanted a cheaper option).
- They just didn’t like it. (Almost always the case.)
- The customers weren’t buying. (Almost never the case.)
This is where Myth #1 can be extremely dangerous. Because if you’re not tracking your numbers, what customers are actually buying, what you’re actually paying, and what your profit margin is, you’ll make an emotional decision based off your own interests. Now, it’s one thing if you’re burned out and just don’t want to offer a specific level of coaching program anymore, or your program is full (I’ve been there, I get it). But it’s another thing if you decide to remove a product from your Etsy store or Amazon just because you don’t personally like it.
We carry quite a few items in our stores that I don’t personally care for and I’d not have in my home. But you know what? Some of those items are our best sellers. Our data proves that just because I may not care for it or I may think it’s cheesy doesn’t mean my customers won’t pony up their hard-earned cash. The bottom line is if you want to stay in business, you don’t get to always choose what your customers want—THEY DO. Allow them to choose with their wallets, track the data, and let the data make the decision.
Myth #2: If it works for one demographic, it’ll work for another.
I built my primary online brand, The Book Ninja, for authors. When I take a training to a JV partner’s list which is also authors, the promotion almost always does really well. But when I’ve had JV partners promote my author trainings to biz-opp folks (those looking for that next shiny business opportunity), the sales are like crickets. Why is this the case? Because I’m trying to push a square peg into a round hole. My product doesn’t match my audience. In the case of my coffee shop example, the changes they made to their menu were to match their menu in the larger city. Which is totally fine for streamlining processes and training employees. Having multiple retail stores that all use the same general systems and processes, I can appreciate that. However, believing this myth can also hit your income… hard…
As in the case of my author trainings not promoting well to non-author people, the demographics in every area are different. You have to know your audience. But it’s not enough to know who they are. After all, you could say “coffee drinkers are my audience.” But what about your demographics? What percentage of those “coffee drinkers” prefer iced drinks year-round? What percentage order lattes? What percentage prefer their drinks black? Who skips coffee altogether and orders tea or lemonade instead? If you make the assumption that everyone’s tastes are the same and therefore what works for one group will instantly work for another, you’re about to encounter a rude awakening in your bank account.
Sure, some people will adapt. You may even attract new customers in that area. But many others will just choose to go elsewhere. And that’s the danger in believing if it works for one group, it’ll work for another. You have to test it to know what will work for your customers.
Here’s another example… Two of our retail stores are toy stores. Sure, we get a lot of crossover in customers, but one store is dedicated to the educational demographic of 12 years and under while the other targets the collectibles audience of 13 and up. While our company processes, systems, and even some of our inventory may be the same between both of these stores, the fact is if we simply replicated the first one we’d be shooting our income in the foot. Even if we opened the same store in another city, we’d have to adapt some of our inventory to the demographics of that city.
Ever wonder why you can find the core of the same stuff at every big box store (Walmart, Target, etc.) and yet some seem to carry different stuff or get in significantly different stock? It’s because those big companies know they must offer specific inventory for their unique regions, their specific demographics. When my mom ran a gluten-free bakery in North Carolina, the local Walmart created an entire gluten-free section. It was the only Walmart for years that did this… almost like it was a pilot/test location for that kind of merchandising. And yet, it started after the demand her bakery experienced. After that demographic became known and popular in that area.
Don’t assume that you can promote the same thing to every audience, or offer the same services to every person. You can’t. Know your audience, adapt to their desires, and quit shooting your income in the foot by trying to either be all things to all people or limit what you offer to the same thing for everyone.
Myth #3: I have to keep everything I offer in a specific price range.
I can’t tell you how many times Tony and I have visited a store, a museum, or an amusement park and wondered why they didn’t offer anything higher ticket. There was one museum store in particular that only sold merchandise under $20. They had nothing in the $100 price range. We spoke to the manager and she believed the lie that if they used up space to display higher ticket items, visitors wouldn’t buy it anyway and that meant they couldn’t sell as much. While yes, most people will buy lower-ticket items, higher-ticket offers actually bring higher-quality people who will also spend even more on those lower-ticket items. So having a balance of both that fits your demographic and target audience is incredibly important.
Successful companies are successful for a reason. Sure, not everyone is going to drop $1,000 on a life-sized Deadpool statue. But NECA (the company that makes life-sized figures like that) knows enough people will buy them that they create 3-4 new characters every year. And they sell out. Every. Single. Time. They also create the same characters as small toys that would fit in your pocket for under $10. And yet most people won’t even offer anything that “expensive” for fear that it won’t sell.
When I first started in the online training space I was the exact opposite. I was scared to do anything lower ticket. Back then I sold done-for-you publishing packages that started at $4,500. And while those were nice paydays, I was leaving a lot of money on the table by not letting anyone buy anything from me at a lower price point. Then there are companies like this coffee shop that took their largest drink off the menu, with the reason being “we believe in quality over quantity”… when the fact is (as yes, I told them), some people will pay a higher price for more quantity of a better quality product. They already have the cups for other drinks, so what’s so hard about adding the larger size back on the menu and raising the price? Yet this is a myth almost all business owners believe at one time or another… that in order to make a profit you have to stick within a specific range of prices.
Why do you think it is that some internet marketers don’t offer anything above $27? Or some retailers don’t have anything priced above $20? Unless the name of your business relies on the price point of your merchandise, you should always offer your customers a wider range of price points. Even the highest-end retailers have stuff that’s $10. And some of the lower-end businesses offer more expensive items. And you know what? They sell both. Because unless you track the numbers… unless you have the data to prove that your particular customers won’t buy something, you have no power to tell them what they can and cannot buy.
Because ultimately, if they can’t get it from you, they’ll get it from someone else. And wouldn’t you rather they give you their money? They’re going to spend money. You choose if they’re going to spend it with you.
Now I ask you again… Do you hate money? Have you fallen for any of the above myths? Are you giving customers a reason not to spend money with you? Are you offering such a tight-knit product or service that you have no wiggle room to attract anyone who will spend more (or more people who will spend less)? Don’t give in to these myths. And if you really want the truth about your customers, start tracking them. Test everything. Know what they buy. Know what they don’t buy. Know how much they’re willing to spend and what percentage of them are willing to spend that. Know. Your. Numbers. And Know. Your. Customers. Until then you’re shooting in the dark wide of the target of success.