29 April 2015
It ain’t what you say, it’s the way that you say it

Today a client asked some of her customers for extra money. She’s done it, knows it was the right thing to do but then emailed me with a massive wobble, doubting herself. She felt sick!

She runs a drama school and the money was to help make their next show epic; make their costumes, create the backdrops and of course pay for her time in rehearsals etc.

She wants to have Hollywood style shows in the heart of Durham and give her kids the best experience. She wants to help teach the next Kate Winslet or Tom Hiddleston; so a little extra cash (we’re talking £20 per child taking part in the show) seemed perfectly reasonable for her to ask for.

Yet she wobbled…. Does this sound familiar? Do you wobble over pricing?

Yes she wants to create the best show for her students, but she doesn’t need to do this out of the goodness of her heart. She’s also allowed to make a profit too – that’s why we have businesses. YOU’RE allowed to charge what you’re worth to and make a profit!

Very few of us can choose to work purely for that feeling of fulfilment we get from enhancing a life in some way. If my client hadn’t asked for that extra £20 then the show would have needed to be  funded from her working capital, and even when ticket sales were added in she may have just broken-even or made a loss

£20 per student was the extra cash injection needed to make the show epic and make a profit. Simple as that.

This is real life sales and marketing shit – the stuff you need to get your head around. I know you’ll be asking: “Well yes, I need a bit more money from my clients too, but how the hell do I ask…?”

So here’s the story I told my client:“It’s not what you say; it’s the way that you say it.”

My kids wear blue uniforms. This week we got a scrappy, shitty piece of paper home to say “Please note, in September all school uniforms will now be red so the new logo shows up better.” It really WAS shitty and scrappy – not a letter, just a blunt note on a roughly chopped piece of paper.

It caused HAVOC! Thankfully I was too poorly to really pay attention, but I suspect other parents were braying on the school doors! Especially as so many parents buy ahead in the sales and will have next terms’ blue uniforms sorted.

Three days later we got the loveliest, loveliest letter explaining that the school understood family budgets were tight etc and children were absolutely more than welcome to continue to wear blue uniforms until they’d grown out of them. Siblings were also welcome to wear blue hand-me-downs, even if they were new starters in September. So the move from blue to red would be slow and organic and over the next few years it was hoped that all pupils would be wearing red uniforms with the new logo.

Now why didn’t they send this lovely letter first….? I have no idea. Probably just too busy… but is ‘busy-ness’ a good enough excuse? Did the school lose some loyalty and trust from parents from their initial blunder? Sure they did.

Tensions between parents and schools can be tight enough to start with and this is a great example of how you NEED to think about getting your message across; whether you’re a school or a small business.

We need to love our customers (and parents are customers – we pay for uniforms, school trips, school fund etc) and we MUST  think about each piece of communication we put out there and what we want it to achieve. We certainly want to create the ‘awwwww’ fuzzy feeling not the ‘ARRRGGHHHH’ angry feeling!

Customers are fickle – piss them off and they’ll go elsewhere.

It’s an old song but the words are so true and bear repeating: “It ain’t what you say, it’s the way that you say it.”

I’m happy to report that my client sent out a great letter (BEFORE reading my story; remember she’d contacted me with the wobbles after asking for the money) and this was her response to me:

“Ha thanks for the pep talk: I definitely don’t do snotty letters! The letter I put out has gone down brilliantly. I don’t know why I stress so much! Quite a lot of the parents have messaged me saying they expected it anyway. One even said I worded it perfectly so think I’m OK there!”

I told her well done and to believe in herself – she’s awesome. She’s a #MarketingForMummies business mum; so of course she’s awesome 🙂

What do you need to say and how are you going to say it? Pop me a message if you’re stuck with your wording!