Commonly businesses believe they have to set their prices low to entice customers. However more often than not it can be counterproductive – in fact it might be what’s keeping people from buying. They just don’t believe they’ll get the value, because the price is so darn low. That’s what my guest learned and shared with us during this episode.
She was advised to raise her prices and when she did her conversion rate shifted. Maybe the price was better aligned with expectations. Maybe it was that she herself believed more in the price she was asking for. Possibly it was both and more. The fact is things changed for her business for the better.
In This Episode
In this episode, I sit down and talk with Maggie Bergin. Maggie is a brand strategist on a mission to eliminate brand vagueness. She helps businesses build a distinct, compelling brand strategy so they can deeply connect with their ideal clients. She quite candidly shares with us her own Pricing journey. The mistakes she’s made and how she’s been able to learn from them and continue building her business. It didn’t come easy she confesses and she feels her own pricing development will continue to grow.
All of that and so much more. Enjoy!
If you prefer to watch the live video head on over to my Youtube channel. Want to skim the transcript, then simply scroll down below.
Podcast Episode Highlights
- 0:00 Introduction
- 02:10 Getting to know Maggie
- 04:00 The Value clients get from Maggie
- 05:25 How she started
- 07:43 Pricing discussions at the beginning
- 11:18 Pricing mistakes
- 16:32 Are there generalizations in work
- 19:12 Wrap Up Questions
“I(A brand) allows them to differentiate themselves in a crowded industry. By figuring out what your uniqueness is, you can answer the question. Why you, why not somebody else?” Maggie
“I originally priced my brand strategy product because I believed that it was for everyone and I wanted to serve everyone. …(what I learned is that) where I am most helpful, is way more specific than that.” Maggie
“It’s OK to create other products or services that are for that (lower) price point and for that market, that’s fine, but that’s not where I shine.” Maggie
“(Often women have a) Conflicting belief where they can either help people or be successful financially, but in their minds they can’t do both. ” Janene
“Pricing is a process and part of that process is figuring out which ideal client you want to serve. Understanding everything you can about them and then figuring out how to get their attention without abusing them.” Maggie
“That’s what I mean by process, your first drafts are garbage. So your first pricing draft is going to be garbage. ” Maggie
“Iteration is normal, natural and healthy. Because in this day of everything being perfect and shiny and happy, (we forget) It’s not. It takes work to be shiny and aligned, it takes time.” Maggie
How to connect with Maggie
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Janene: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Live with The Pricing Lady. This is the live version, and we also have a podcast version. I am so excited to have you all here with me today. If you are loving the show, which by the way, in case you didn’t already know that. All about pricing and helping you charge for the, for the value you deliver, then be sure to head on over to apple, apple podcasts and share.
Give us a shout out, say hello, leave a review. I love hearing from you listeners. Now today we have our real treat. I’d like to welcome my guest Maggie Bergin. She is a Branding Expert. Hi Maggie. We’re so excited to have you here with us today and to learn all about your journey with pricing in your business.
Maggie: I thank you very much for having me
Janene: Super excited. All right. Why don’t we go ahead and get started. I like to start the session off with a few rapid fire questions. The first one is where are you joining us from?
Getting to Know Maggie
Maggie: I am joining you from Chicago, but I’m originally from the Mitten State. So I’m now legally required to show you for those of you listening to the podcast, I’m holding up their right hand and pointing to grand rapids where the location is in Michigan with my left hand.
Janene: So Michigan is the Mitten State.
Maggie: It is called the Mitten State because it looks like Mitten.
Janene: Oh, I didn’t know that’s what it was called. See, learn something new everyday. Question number two. What would be one song? That’s the soundtrack of your current life?
Maggie: I am a huge Prince fan. So any song that’s happening in my life or that’s prominent in my life is probably going to be a Prince song. And right now it’s Let’s Go Crazy. Yeah, because, you know, striking that balance between being yourself and having fun and living a life that’s aligned with your values is what the message of the song is. And that resonates with me right now.
Janene: Fantastic. All right. Next question. What’s your superpower?
Maggie: Ooh. I hope this doesn’t sound egotistical, but my superpower is I see thought bubbles and I’m not afraid to say them out loud. I can see what folks are thinking, even if they’re not saying it, which is really great for helping people figure out what their brand strategy is.
Janene: Right. Okay. Well, that’s interesting. I haven’t heard that one before. I love it. Fantastic. So what’s one really interesting thing that people don’t know about you.
Maggie: I finished the government affairs portion of my career as a Lobbyist. Okay. Well, I was lobbying for good.
Janene: Well, that’s a good thing.
Maggie: I had clients in the green energy.
The Value Clients Get from Maggie
Janene: Excellent. Cool. Okay. Last of the rapid-fire questions, this one is more about what you do for your clients. So what value do your clients get from working for you at the end of the day?
Maggie: Most entrepreneurs are great at what they do. Otherwise they wouldn’t be entrepreneurs but they are not so great at talking about what they do.
It’s not a Venn diagram, the greatness at what they do, and the greatness of talking about what they do not. They’re usually very little overlap, a brand strategy. The brand strategies I build with my clients is the bridge between those two so that they can grow.
Janene: Okay. Excellent. And ultimately, when they have the right brand strategy, what does that bring them?
Maggie: It brings them growth because they are aligned from the inside out and everything’s pulling in the same direction. Okay.
Janene: Super excellent. I love it.
Maggie: It brings them a dish. The reason it brings them grow, there’s a bunch of reasons. It brings some gross, but one reasons is because. If (a brand) allows them to differentiate themselves in a crowded industry. By figuring out what your uniqueness is, you can answer the question. Why you, why not somebody else?
Janene: You heard that ladies and gentlemen, we need to get a brand strategy straight. All right. Why don’t we start back at the beginning? How did you get into being a brand strategy and strategist and doing what you’re doing?
How she started
Maggie: I’ve always been in the communications field. Starting with being a debater in high school at government, a degree from Smith college in government and then moving into government affairs.
What is government affairs? Whether you’re on the legislative side or you’re on the lobbying side? It is selling of an idea. I left government affairs when the role of money and government and America became such that I couldn’t stomach it anymore. I moved laterally. You wouldn’t necessarily think it made sense, but it makes a great deal of sense to move laterally into marketing and branding.
Because as I said, government affairs is selling an idea. I have always loved living in the forest through the trees. If you give me a spreadsheet, I start to get hives. I want to explain the high level kind of facts on the ground so that everyone can understand. That’s exactly what branding is.
Janene: When you first started your business and you were looking at setting prices for what you offered, how did you go about doing that?
Maggie: Well, in retrospect, I wish that I had talked to you immediately. But as we know in growing a business, you often don’t find the people that you will ultimately benefit from right away.
I would love to hear from you how typical this is, but I started based on a rough, hourly calculation. The brand strategy process I calculated how many hours roughly that took, gave myself an hourly income of gave me, I signed like an hourly rate to that. And then discounted it slightly because you were purchasing something on something larger than an hour.
Pricing Discussions at the Beginning
Janene: Yeah, that’s very common, especially with service-based businesses that they would rely on a time-based rate for their pricing. They don’t grow with you if you base your rates on time. What was that like for you when you first started having to have pricing discussions?
Maggie: It was really scary because I think I am a feminist, I believe in equity and equality. So to say what my rates were given that they were four figures was difficult at first, which shocked me.
Janene: Yeah. Even when you feel confident sometimes when you have to put a dollar sign behind it, a monetary value behind it, it feels very different.
Maggie: Yes. It was a very interesting process. I originally priced my brand strategy product because I believed that it was for everyone and I wanted to serve everyone. The other understanding about my prices in addition to incorporating the value of the work, as opposed to just like an hourly rate is that the understanding about my prices that I’ve come to have is a really about my ideal client, which is a huge portion of the brand strategy work that I do with my clients.
So when I started Be Understood Branding, I asked myself, what, who do you want to serve? And I thought I wanted to serve everyone. But what I’ve come to find out over time, is that where I’ve found the most joy, because it’s where I am most helpful, is way more specific than that. I am of most use to people who’ve been running their business for a minute.
Not startups, not someone who has an idea. I am not of use to them. So the pricing now reflects where my actual ideal client is in their journey.
A lot of People Suffer from Trying to Sell Anything to Everyone
Janene: Yeah which is absolutely critical. I talk about two diseases in pricing, everyone, itis and anything -itis. A lot of people will suffer from both trying to sell anything to everyone.
And it’s true. Quite often, when you’re first starting out, you’re trying to hedge all your. And not leave anyone out and capture everyone that could possibly use what you do in any context. But then you end up quite often positioning yourself as a generalist.
Maggie: I listened to your podcast, obviously. And I loved the last episode. Cause you talked specifically about that. But you, you talked about it in the context of competitors whose prices are much lower and your suggestions to people really resonated with me that think about consider where they may be at and their pricing.
Janene: Yeah absolutely. It makes a big difference or can won’t always, but it often makes a big difference in what you choose to do with your pricing, the positioning, but also then it can also influence how you present your prices or what conditions those prices go with. So it can influence it in many factors, many ways.
So have you found, you’ve made any big mistakes when it came to pricing in your business?
Maggie: I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Pretty Woman, where she goes shopping on Rodeo Drive and she walks into the store with the bags and she asks the person behind the counter. Do you work on commission?
And the woman nods. And she just, she says big mistake. Huge. I don’t know why that pops into my head when you asked me that question, but yeah, let me take that. I’m wait, was that the question was… I have made huge mistakes
Janene: Any you care to share?
Maggie: There’s one that I care to share, and I want to share it in case anyone listening is is doing this stupid thing that I did way too long.
Don’t be stupid like me. I had to hire someone to tell me this, which doesn’t make any sense, because as soon as she said it, I was like, duh. What is the value of always knowing how to communicate who you are in your business and what you do for your clients, what is the value of knowing exactly who you serve and how? What is the value of being able to answer the question, why you, as opposed to a competitor? To coin a much used brand tagline… PRICELESS.
Businesses make money by understanding those things. What is the value of a brand strategy? A hundred percent more than what I was charging. And my prices will continue to go up as I gain experience.
Janene: Right. The mistake was not understanding or not looking at things from the perspective of value. Is that how you would describe it?
Maggie: Yes. I was told my prices were too low.
Maggie: So you get on a sales call. How many sales calls do people have? All of those sales calls, how many. Yeah. How many folks are like you? You’re the one? They, there was a cause of what this person, this expert in sales told me that your prices are too low. I said, what, how is that possible? She said, people will not believe that there is value in what you are doing because your prices are where they’re at. And guess what? It’s true.
The Impact of Low Prices
Janene: Yeah, it’s true for a lot, especially young businesses that starting out because they believe that the right strategy to gain customers is to buy them with low prices and a lot don’t realize that actually has the opposite impact in many cases, especially if you’re good at communicating the value and offering it at a really low price. It makes people go something’s not right here.
Maggie: It’s OK to create other products or services that are for that (lower) price point and for that market, that’s fine, but that’s not where I shine. I may build like a smaller, product at a different price point to serve people, because I love serving people. Helping is my favorite. I love to help. But that’s different than what we’re talking about.
Janene: I think a lot of people who are starting their own businesses, especially solo entrepreneurs, they start because they want to help. They don’t necessarily understand the business side. They’re like, I just want to help people. The best way you can help people is to do the right things so that you can earn a living and be able to invest back in your business and support more people. But if you don’t price right from the beginning, then you can’t be there to do that.
Maggie: When I adjusted my prices, my conversion rate went up. I wondered is it because I’m better or I’m more comfortable with that number because it isn’t actual reflection of what I believe in.
The Value and Understanding the Number Side of the Business
Janene: I think a lot of people don’t really understand why they have the price that they have. If you don’t understand why it is what it is, how can you feel very confident about it, to understand the value you have a good reason for why it’s that?
Or once you understand how that’s going to make your business profitable, then you understand again, why it is what it is. And that alone makes you feel more confident about what you do.
Maggie: I couldn’t agree more. I think you’re absolutely a hundred percent right about that. Because I went through a process of figuring like the process you help your clients with having gone through that process, I felt like firm and complete and grounded in what I was saying. I think that makes a difference.
Janene: Yeah, it does. I see it. I can tell you with most of my clients, I can see exactly where the shift came from. Those are actually two of the biggest points, value and understanding the number side of the business. Not all the way. Those are not only, but those are two places where most people kind of have these major aha moments. And I think when I’ve been interviewing people here on the show or having discussions with other people on their shows for a lot of them, it wasn’t until they understood those two things that they really started to understand what they could be doing better with their pricing.
Are there Generalization in Work
Maggie: Can I ask you a question?
Janene: Sure. That’s a new one.
Maggie: What is your experience working with folks who were raised women or who have identified as women, most of them. Do you, do you experience any, are there any generalizations that you’ve experienced in your work around working with people of different genders?
Janene: There are some generalizations. But it doesn’t apply to everyone, of course. But I see more women tend to struggle with money in and of itself. They’ll say to things to me like, oh, I don’t really care how much money I make. I don’t want to be greedy. And you’re like, okay, you’re here asking for help.
You do care on some level, but you’re having this internal battle with yourself because you’re afraid that if you say I want to earn money in my business, that you’ll be perceived by other people as greedy.
Janene: That’s a very common one. I see with women occasionally with men as well, but I see that with women and I think that’s, due to how a lot of women have been raised.
Most of us have Some Contention when it comes to Money
Janene: Right. I mean, I was raised in a family where my mom handled all the finances. She made all the investments and handled all the money. I grew up in a slightly different context, but oh, and money issues, like if a penny’s missing, I’m like, oh my gosh, the world’s going to be doing, you know, I freak out when I don’t need to be freaking out.
Most of us have some contention when it comes to money. But different people in different ways. But what I would say when it comes to pricing and setting prices in their businesses, this is something that I see quite commonly in women that they don’t want to be perceived as greedy.
And then the helping others things, they have a what do I call them? (Often women have a) Conflicting belief where they can either help people or be successful financially, but in their minds they can’t do both.
Maggie: Yeah. That’s so interesting. Thank you so much for sharing that. That is super interesting.
Janene: Yeah. And if that’s, kind of what’s going on in the background then of course, you’re really going to struggle. It’s something that you have to work your way through and it might be a little painful along the way, but people do it.
Maggie: Pick your hard, you know, pick your hard.
It’s all hard. Running a business is hard. Raising a family is hard.
Maggie’s Take Away
Janene: So Maggie, we are going to start wrapping things up here. What’s one thing that you’d really like people to take away from our conversation today.
Maggie: That’s a great question. Pricing is a process and part of that process is figuring out which ideal client you want to serve. Understanding everything you can about them and then figuring out how to get their attention without abusing them with that information. And that takes time and iteration.
There is some finesse to it. That’s very true. But finesse finessing that. That’s what I think. That’s what I mean by process, your first drafts are garbage. So your first pricing draft is going to be garbage.
Janene: Hopefully not all
Maggie: Mine was.
Janene: I’m totally aligned with you that, and it’s not just with pricing everyone. It’s really, when it comes to anything in your business, you’re going to struggle less and be better off. If you can be very clear about who you’re targeting. That’s why iteration, right? Sometimes you don’t find your way until after a while. That’s okay.
Maggie: The first week, the first. My brand strategy process is six weeks and the first session. I make them, I say to them, iteration is normal, natural, and healthy. And then I make them repeat it back to me.
Janene: I don’t have a nice catch phrase, but I explained the same thing to my client,
Maggie: Iteration is normal, natural and healthy.
And then every week, the first thing we do, I said, what are we, what do we remembering? Because in this day of everything being perfect and shiny and happy, (we forget) It’s not. It takes work to be shiny and aligned, it takes time.
Janene: You’re absolutely right. Excellent. Thank you for sharing.
Maggie’s Business Advice for You
Janene: What is the best business advice that you’ve ever been given?
Maggie: Hat tip to the sales consultant who I hired last year. Her name is Grace Edison. And this is what grace said to me that blew part of my brain open. I was really struggling with sales calls and because I don’t want to be gross. Okay.
Whatever she was like, are you gross? What do you mean? She said, are you gross? I said, no, I’m not gross. She said, is your product gross? I said, no, it’s really great and helpful. And she was like, all right, you’re not gross. Your product is not gross. How could any piece of a call to another human being be gross right?
Janene: I don’t to know about you. Maybe. I shouldn’t say that, but we’re so mean to ourselves. Yeah, we would never, we would never tell someone else out here you’re so gross on a sales call. You ain’t never dream of saying that. Right. So, okay. So then the advice was you’re not gross. Oh, okay. So the best business
Maggie: Oh, okay. So the business advice is remember that there is nothing gross about sharing your zone of genius with people who need.
Janene: Perfect. I love that. Absolutely true. Absolutely true. It’s so important to remember that and remind ourselves of that. Okay. Next question. Got two more for ya. What’s a favorite book of yours you’d like to share with us.
Maggie: Okay. You know how in certain professions they have continuing education, credit requirements. So like teacher or an accountant or a lawyer or an architect, you have to like do continuing education. I don’t have a specific book to recommend, but I want to recommend in general, like by monthly scheduled, continuing education, if I don’t learn, I don’t grow.
The entire field of branding and brand strategy is based on how human brains work, how attention works with human brains. Brains are not going to change in yours or my lifetime, but what we know about them does, so I don’t have a specific book to recommend? But I want to recommend that you can, yet you treat what you do as if there is a CEC requirement, right?
Janene: So keep learning, asking questions. Yeah, absolutely. That’s fantastic.
Wrapping it Up
Janene: Maggie, how can people reach you if they’d like to find out more about what you do and how they can work with you?
Maggie: That’s very kind of you to ask. Thank you. I’m @beunderstoodbranding on Instagram.
Please give a follow. It’s a good content. It’s branding best practices. And then you’re not on Instagram. Come to my website and sign up for my newsletter and the website is Be understood Branding.
Janene: Maggie, thank you so much for joining me today.
It’s been such a pleasure. I know it’s ended so quickly.
Maggie: I appreciate the opportunity so much and thank you for all the work that you’re doing in the world to help people have alignment with what they’re charging.
Janene: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure having you here on the show to all of those of you who are watching and or listening later on thank you for joining us. It’s such a pleasure to have you here. If you are watching this live, then next week, I am running my 10-day customer value challenge so that you can become an expert in your customer over these 10 days, we will talk about and learn how to do customer insight interviews, which is one of the best tools I’ve ever learned out there. And I walk you through the process. You just head on over to www.thepricinglady.com/yes and you can find out more and register there. Of course, if you’ve enjoyed this. I appreciate if you head on over to apple podcasts and give us a review, we love to hear from you guys all the time. That’s all for today, everyone. I wish you all the best. Have a great day. And as always enjoy pricing everyone.