On Monday I did a bit of training for a woman called Zoe who is new to being self-employed. She recently started an ironing service and I was helping her to learn about keeping financial records.
During our session we discussed how much she was charging and she quickly realised that she is far too cheap, possibly by as much as 50%. So any new clients will be paying more than her current ones (sorry).
But part of the discussion was why people buy an ironing service. Why would anyone pay someone else to do their housework?
We came up with a number of reasons: some folks are short of time, others won't be very good at ironing, many will feel that they'd rather be doing something else, and some will pay to have to have it done because they hate the task.
For most people it's a case of saving time. Most of the clients will simply value their time at higher than the rate that she charges. They aren't buying the ironing, they're buying the time it saves.
So what Zoe is actually selling is time. She's giving those with the money and inclination the opportunity to pay her to take away an undesirable job and get back the time it would have taken.
And this set Zoe thinking a little more about the value of time. You see, time really is the only finite resource, when it's gone you're not getting it back. And it was at this point that she realised that she didn't value her own time highly enough. An important lesson I feel and better learned sooner than later.
But the most important lesson that Zoe has learned is that her client don't buy ironing, they buy time.
Zoe now knows why her clients really buy and she can now focus her marketing on what her clients gain from her service. She can now further emphasise the benefits of buying back time rather than just taking away an undesirable job.
So, here's a question: can you do a similar exercise to work out what your customers really gain when they buy from your business?
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