Does the out of control inflation crisis in the country have you feeling scared for your business? Gas prices are at an all time high, but your inquiries are at an all time low… sound about right?
If you have been feeling like this season of life has been extremely slow for your business you are not alone.
I have seen and heard from several people questioning how they are going to keep their doors open. The clients and inquiries seem to be far and few in between right now. Things are slow. People are hesitant to book.
Should you lower your prices? Offer a discount? What is the next best move for you and your business?
In this episode of The Branded Cowgirl Podcast, we discuss price increases, what that means for your business, and how you should be moving forward.
Why Are Things Moving So Slow In My Business?
Everything is expensive. We are seeing things at record breaking all time highs. Gas prices, the housing market, everyday items at your local grocery store. Inflation is a real thing and unfortunately, it’s here to stay for a while. But it’s just more prominent now than it was in other times because of how fast it all came about.
But just like in any other slower season of life and business there is a natural ebb and flow. Slow seasons often follow really busy seasons of our businesses, even putting inflation aside. This is just normal. But unless you prepare in advance for these slower seasons, they can feel really scary. I have an entire episode on specifically some things you can do during slow seasons.. Check out episode 009.
As a wedding photographer, the months of April through October are usually so crazy but in November-March it’s often much slower paced as those are not prime wedding season months.
And knowing this, has caused me to have to prepare somewhat ahead of time to try to figure out how to still bring in an income during those more quiet months. But that also doesn’t make it any less scary. I have seasons where I wonder if things will ever pick back up. If I suck at my craft because no one is booking, or is it just a slower time right now?
For all my fellow control freaks, I know how hard it is to feel like you have absolutely zero power over this slow season, especially when it’s due to circumstances you have no control over. Such as ya know.. A global pandemic that changes the way we all live our daily lives, our spending habits, and so on.
Some slow seasons you can prepare for. AKA the ones you know are coming at certain times of the year. But we cannot prepare for what we don’t know is coming. AKA a pandemic or crazy high inflation.
What can you do about it?
There is not always going to be a way to predict when these quieter times happen or what will cause them, and yet, in my own experience, what I have found to be true is that in the midst of slow seasons, I have more room to intentionally grow my business in the way I want to.
I actually have the time to do the things I have been putting on the back burner for better optimization moving forward that can put my business on a path toward more income and better results.
Take a look at all your systems, content, and workflows. What works for your business and what doesn’t? How could you improve your experience? Is there a certain type of content that did really well and you can make more similar content to that? Knowing your numbers can be KEY to knowing what you should be working on next.
Another thing to think about is, what does your audience/clients need right now? How can you serve them better at this time? The good part about this one is that you don’t have to just guess. You can actually ask them. Put up a question box on your Instagram story and straight up ask your people what they need help with right now.
Business really does not have to be that complicated.
Should You Lower Your Prices
The short answer is no. Everything is more expensive in the world right now, like literally everything. So why should you be the exception and go cheaper? You have a business to run, and frankly the prices you set for your business should not just be these random numbers you pulled out of no where. They should be carefully calculated based on what you need to make to pay your bills, cover your expenses, etc.
With inflation making everything go up in price, chances are, your prices need to do the same to reflect the change of everything else too.
Charge more for travel, materials, or whatever it is that you need to. Otherwise you are likely not going to be running a profitable business. And people are going to be more understanding about this than you think.
I understand that in seasons of slowness, lowering prices might feel like the right thing to do to bring in more customers, but trust me, people notice. And when you get into the habit of offering discounts all the time you are setting yourself up for people to price shop you. Or never book with you until you post your next discount because they know it’s coming eventually.
I see it a lot, someone will randomly have a knee jerk reaction and throw out a major discount on their products or services just to keep things moving along. And I am not saying there is not a time or place to offer a discount, but it should ALWAYS be on your terms and for the right reasons.
Slow seasons are not the right reason.
Because believe me when I say, the last thing you want to be known as is the “cheaper option”.
I have had clients send me emails swooning over my work and how much they wish they could hire me but they simply could not afford it and booked the cheaper option instead. And guess what? That’s okay with me.
My goal is not to have the most dates filled up on my calendar. It’s to have a select few days booked that generate enough income for me to live my life that doesn’t revolve around my business.
Sure, I could lower my prices and take on more bookings, but then I would be losing out on family time and being able to do the things in my life that I want to be able to do.
You know how in those Facebook groups people are always asking for an “X” service provider that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? But everyone fails to mention what an arm and a leg actually means to them.
To some, $100 is expensive for a service, whereas to others, $500 is cheap for a service. This is true even in financially challenging times such as now. Even when it seems like everyone might be in the same boat and struggling with money. I can promise you, priorities are different for everyone. And there is someone out there willing to make the investment on you. But it’s your job to either find them or make sure they find you.
They are not just going to fall into your lap.
Four Ways To Boost Sales Again
Update and/or expand your portfolio
The more you actually look like you are working the better. Let’s say you are a graphic designer and you only booked 2 clients this month. Well for the rest of the month, you should STILL be designing things. Even if that does mean doing some free work (on your terms) to make it look like you are a busy bee. Do not advertise it as free work or even offer it up. Just design and/or whatever you do a lot. Create lots of content to post and share and talk about. People are not going to hire someone who doesn’t appear to have a lot of bookings.
Offer Payment Plans
Something you could also do that might make it easier for people to book with you is offering payment plans. Since a lot of people are feeling a financial burden these days, it can be off putting if they need to pay a huge chunk of money up front. But if they are able to pay it in smaller sections, they are going to be much more likely to work with you.
Boost Client Experience
- Ask yourself what your current experience looks like for someone from start to finish. Remember, that experience really begins the moment someone finds your brand exists. There is an entire experience happening prior to someone booking you and then an entirely different experience happening during the booking process, and after someone books with you too.
- We want all of these processes to not only feel seamless and easy, but also to leave some kind of impression on the person walking through it.
- Experience is everything from how quickly you respond, resources you offer, do you send a gift? How over the top are you going for your clients? And remember, sometimes even just the little things make all the difference!
Offer Something New
- When your current offers are just not doing great, maybe try offering something new. This doesn’t have to be big and extravagant either. Instead of offering what you already do for cheaper, maybe make a smaller package at a lower rate. Then it would balance out more in the end to where the client isn’t paying as much but you also are not doing as much work either.
- You could also offer something that doesn’t require much on your end at all. Can you make online resources and sell them? Digital goods, templates, guides, etc?
- Offer 1:1 coaching, mentoring that you do over a zoom call? Find something within your niche you can offer, such as helping someone manage their social media calendar, create content, become a virtual assistant, there are so many ways you can add income streams into your business.
I know in times like this, it can be easy to get fearful, make drastic changes and impulse decisions. But I want to really encourage you to try and take a step back, take a few deep breaths and really look at your business or brand from an outside perspective. Take the feelings and emotions out of everything (as hard as that can be).
It may even be helpful to have someone do this with you since they are not going to be as emotionally invested in your business as you are.
Take some time to write down income ideas, things you could change, how you are going to elevate your experience instead of lowering your prices and so on.
We may not know when the world will go back to “normal” but that doesn’t mean we are helpless until then. You are an entrepreneur for a reason. Get scrappy and creative and just know that you are not in this alone.
I am here for ya always, cheering you on and will be here with you every step of the way.
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I'm Sarah Elrod
I'm a Cowgirl turned serial entrepreneur.
I'm a horse trainer, western wedding photographer, business coach and ranch wife.
I help women in the western industry grow thriving businesses from rural America.
When I am not strategizing new marketing tactics, you will find me riding my horses, cuddling my cattle dog, or kissing my hot husband.
There is also a good chance I am buying way too many outfits from western boutiques.
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