I don’t remember exactly how I came to know of Sarah Petty and Erin Verbeck, authors of the new business book “Worth Every Penny.” At some point Sarah joined me on my radio show to discuss how to compete without focusing on price.
One thing led to another, and then another. Last year I got the chance to hang out with Sarah and Erin when they came to Cleveland. They came not just to talk (although we had great fun at that) — they showed me what they do. They brought along samples of the items they provide to subscribers of their Cafe Joy monthly marketing service. Subscribers get a “recipe tin” they can fill with the monthly recipe cards mailed to them containing marketing ideas and tips. They get access to marketing design templates for creative marketing items, such as unique photo cubes and greeting cards. The items are visually intoxicating – and inspire you to think up your own creative marketing.
As soon as I “saw” I was hooked. And that was when they told me they were writing a book. So I was thrilled to get an advance copy and gave a testimonial for the back cover — because I knew they were the real deal.
Who Are the Authors?
Sarah Petty (@SarahPetty) spent 20 years in business working with the Coca-Cola brand. Then about a decade ago she opened a boutique photography studio. Fast forward five years: that studio was recognized for being one of the most profitable in America. From there Sarah was asked to become a speaker sharing her business expertise with other photographers. Eventually she and her co-author Erin Verbeck evolved into a business called The Joy of Marketing, where they teach other photographers and small business owners how to charge what they’re worth.
How To Get Paid What You’re Worth
So what’s involved with learning how to charge what you’re worth? A lot of elements: branding, customer service, pricing, sales – and even social networking and public relations.
The book shares the authors’ wisdom about how to create a unique brand and translate that into profits.
The first thing you learn in the book is that as a small business owner, the path to earning what you’re worth is to build a “boutique business.” As they say in the book, “Boutique is a business model, not a gift shop.” Any type of business can be boutique — a cosmetic dentist, flower shop, tax consultant, mortgage broker or photographer. Being boutique is not about what you sell, but how you operate. The authors write:
“When you’re boutique, your products or services are specialized and customized. They’re cooler. They’re more fabulous. They’re more personalized. They’re more valuable. And they’re almost impossible to imitate, because they’re based on your personality and talents.”
A boutique business is fundamentally different from large companies or commodity businesses. In a boutique-type of company, you never would sell based on being a low-priced provider. To a boutique business owner, the words “sale” and “deal” are 4-letter words — in ALL ways. You’re not trying to get every customer — you want the right customers. You must create the aura of being unique with a “gush-worthy” brand, add value to customers — and charge accordingly.
Now… is your mind wrapped around the boutique concept yet? Because if it is, you can move on to the rest of the book, which is about showing you how to create that aura and unique brand, how to add value to customers, how to price for profits, and how to market and sell when you run a boutique business.
Key Principles to Being Worth Every Penny
Getting paid what you’re worth is not just about you and getting paid more. At the heart of it, it’s about adding so much value and wow-ing your customers to the point that they would spontaneously say “worth every penny!” A few of the key points in the book include:
- Making your products and services worth more. You can’t just jack up prices if you offer a poor quality product or a mediocre service. You have to offer more. The authors call it adding a “thrill” for the customer. The book gives one example of a tattoo artist who doesn’t just show you a rendering of the tattoo, but who will actually take your photograph and Photoshop it to show the tattoo positioned on your body so you can decide if it’s going to be in exactly the perfect spot. Isn’t that better than finding out later that you have to live the rest of your life wishing it were just a few inches higher?
- The high touch experience. A boutique business is by definition a high-touch business with strong service and deep relationships with customers. As Petty and Verbeck say, “Discounters can’t compete with you when you provide a better experience for customers.”
- Demand-based pricing. You might think you know what this means, but the authors’ take is a bit different. To them, it means “set a price at what consumers will pay and then create the demand you need to meet that price.” But you’re thinking, ‘ Create demand? How do you do that?’ The book goes on to give examples such as based on appealing on an emotional level, positioning the business owner as an expert who goes out and speaks to groups, and “creating your own weather” to build demand. To understand what that latter phrase means, you’ll have to read the book!
I found this book easy to read and digest. You’ll get a lot of inspirational support for pursuing the boutique business model — and if you start to doubt yourself, the book will be an excellent source of reinforcement.
At the ends of the chapters are simple action steps for you to follow. Ultimately, though, it will be up to you to use your brainpower and creativity to develop a boutique business. And when you do, you could finally get paid what you’re worth. Pick up a copy of Worth Every Penny.