Pricing When Your Offer Isn’t the “Magic Pill”
Episode 74 | Live with the Pricing Lady
Pricing your offer is a challenge under "normal" circumstances but what if you offer isn't like the "magic pills" everyone else is offering? It's not that it's not valuable it just doesn't have that "sexiness" that others offer.
Should it and what does it mean to your pricing?
How does it (or does it) change what you do?
What does that really even mean?
That's what I spoke about in this week's episode with Special Guest Jen McFarland. She founded Women Conquer Business to help entrepreneurs and small businesses slay technology overwhelm, streamline processes, and amplify their impact. Transforming their marketing strategy and operations from a huge headache into a business-building asset.
She'll be sharing with us her pricing journey. Jen confesses she was charging way too little and learned the hard way about the pitfalls of charging by the hour. If you're trading time for money or if what you're selling isn't the coolest thing on the block, then you'll want to hear what Jen has to say.
Highlights of this episode:
- 0:40 Who's Jen?
- 3:53 How she started her business
- 5:29 Pricing at the beginning
- 7:37 Is it or isn't it magic pill?
- 9:40 Customer discovery
- 12:24 Getting to the gold standard
- 13:32 Navigating mindset trap
- 17:46 Be willing to pay
Best quotes from the episode:
"I honestly think the more you're willing to pay other people, the more people are going to pay you because you see that value." Jen McFarland
"I was trying to be affordable for the people I worked with, which I still believe in heavily, but then at the same time, my calculations were completely off. ...it was so incredibly low that there was no way that I was going to be able to make a living off of it." Jen McFarland
"People are too scared to ask for feedback. How do you really feel about the work that we're doing? The thing is, even if somebody tells you something bad, it's good because it gives you the chance to adjust and change what you're doing." Jen McFarland
"You're never going to get to that gold standard if you don't ask people how it's going along the way. And nor are you going to ever be able to price right because you're not delivering services at the level that people expect." Jen McFarland
"Realizing that what I offer is magic to other people. Just because it's not magic to me, doesn't mean that it's less valuable." Jen McFarland
"I always want to be of service, but then you have to remember that you also have to be of service to yourself. If you're working yourself to death and you're not making any money, you're not actually showing up in the best way that you can." Jen McFarland
- Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
- The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber
Two great ways to connect with Jen:
Get started working with The Pricing Lady
Download the the self assessment Pricing Scorecard. Get a view of what's working and what's not working when it comes to pricing in your business. Figure out where to start making improvements.
Not ready for that here are some other ideas.
[00:00:00] Janene: [00:00:00] Is your offer magic pill? What does that mean for your pricing? Hello, everyone. I'm Janene Liston and you are live with the Pricing Lady. This show is all about helping small business owners get better at pricing. Build the right pricing strategy so you can charge for the value deliver and have a sustainably profitable business.
[00:00:24] Welcome to my guest today, Jen McFarland. Hello, Jen.
[00:00:29] Jen: [00:00:29] Hi, Janene. Thank you so much for having me.
[00:00:32] Janene: [00:00:32] Thank you for being here. I'm super excited about this conversation.
Why don't you start off by introducing yourself to everyone?
[00:00:40] Jen: [00:00:40] Sure. My name is Jen McFarland. My business is called Women Conquer Business and I'm on the tech side of marketing.
[00:00:47]What that means is I'm really interested in things like automation. I look at software. My background is actually working at corporate and large scale businesses doing software research and implementation. Making the [00:01:00] leap into marketing and helping small business owners with finding the right software that works for their business has actually been a really natural fit.
[00:01:08]I started my business as a side hustle when I was still working in a really, hectic work environment. I learned that there are just so many people out there who need what I offer. I don't know how often you talk to people who maybe don't have that realization that like, what they do is special and different.
[00:01:27]I can say that like five years ago, when I first. Well, you know, tinkering around with having a business. I thought everybody could do what I did. So it was a much, it was like a really eyeopening thing to realize how many people struggle with tech and hate it actually. Because I think it's so useful and helpful that I didn't have a clue about what was going on out there.
[00:01:47]Janene: [00:01:47] That's really interesting. And yeah, I think most of us out there who, who have started our own businesses probably didn't many people didn't even take into account that they might need to know some of that [00:02:00] stuff. Some people like me are kind of a dig in and do it yourself. And then other people are like, no, no, no, no... I'm outsourcing that as quickly as possible.
Some people just ignore it completely. Right?
[00:02:14] Jen: [00:02:14] Absolutely. Until things go wrong and then they flip out about it a little bit. I think that for me, my interest in it actually started when I was working in marketing years ago as a graphic designer in many companies, the only people who have a Mac are the people who are doing graphic design.
[00:02:29]That was always the case in my initial career, you know, doing marketing. We were our own tech support. We just had to figure it out. Cause the tech people were like, yeah, no, I don't, I don't touch Mac, you know? And then fast forward through all of this time. Then all of a sudden I'm doing tech project management at scale, and it just was a, it was just a natural fit than what I wanted to help people to realize; there's this gap there that not everybody has had the same experiences.
[00:02:54]You're absolutely right. People are so funny about technology. They're either like all in, like when [00:03:00] we first met. I was like, wow, she knows about all this stuff. Then I meet a lot of people who are like Nope. Don't talk to me about that. That's scary.
[00:03:10] Janene: [00:03:10] Yeah. I have the disease of learning things. Anything that I can learn that, is a challenge to me at first, I'm like, all right, I'm going to conquer you.
[00:03:17]Jen: [00:03:17] Me too. That's lifelong learner. Totally guilty.
[00:03:20] Janene: [00:03:20] Yeah. It's a disease. I think you've been fortunate enough to make a a business out of it, which is great.
You said you decided to start your own business, but what really led to you starting your business?
[00:03:33] Jen: [00:03:33] You know, it was really funny. I had a really high stress job working as an executive implementing large scale programs. But I wasn't having a lot of one-to-one interactions with people.
[00:03:45] And I really missed that. I've been I was a peace Corps volunteer. I lived abroad for two years and, and I love that hands-on, let's make change on the ground situation. I just love it. And I wasn't getting that when I was working at the city of [00:04:00] Portland here in Oregon, and I never had any contact with the public.
[00:04:03]It started there as a little niggling. What else is out there? I miss this. Then I remember going to a retreat for a gym that I belong to. The business owner was constantly working like full time and then like engaging with us and then had like all these things to do.
[00:04:18] She was so frustrated because her web developer wasn't responding and nothing was working. She was like having to like copy and paste all this stuff into multiple places. I was like, where are you? Doing and she's like, well, this is just how it is. And I'm like, well, it doesn't have to be that way.
[00:04:34]Then I started paying attention to this circle of women who were business owners. They were all in the same boat. Nobody was treating them well, because they were small clients. There was still a lot of, and I think that still exists, a lot of people who are like women don't do tech methodology out there among the people who were providing services for them.
[00:04:52] I was like, well, there has to be a better way. And I know how to do that. So. You know, giddy up. Let's go.
[00:04:57]Janene: [00:04:57] Interesting.
When it came to starting your own business and doing pricing, what was that like for you at first?
[00:05:07] Jen: [00:05:07] Yeah. Great. This is a little vulnerable because when I first started pricing, I was trying to be affordable for the people I worked with, which I still believe in heavily, but then at the same time, my calculations were completely off. It wasn't based at all on this vast experience that I have; 25 years in my field. When it comes to technology and marketing I have real corporate experience in both. But at the same time my pricing was, I don't know if I should even tell you what, it was hourly. And it was so incredibly low that there was no way that I was going to be able to make a living off of it.
[00:05:40] Janene: [00:05:40] Right. A lot of people find themselves in that place when they're just starting out, but they don't realize it. They get a couple of years into it and then it's not going where they want it to go and it occurs to them wait a minute something is wrong here.
[00:05:56] Jen: [00:05:56] Yeah, absolutely. It's always like this weird dichotomy where [00:06:00] as somebody who is all about service and has worked abroad, lived abroad and done something like peace Corps, I always want to be of service, but then you have to remember that you also have to be of service to yourself. If you're working yourself to death and you're not making any money, you're not actually showing up in the best way that you can.
[00:06:19] Janene: [00:06:19] Right, right. One of the big messages that people can get is that fair means that you're just as fair to yourself as you are to your customers and clients. I whole heartedly agree with that. One of the things that we wanted to talk about was when your offer isn't the "magic pill".
Why don't you tell us a little bit what you mean by the "magic pill"?
[00:06:41] Jen: [00:06:41] Yeah. I base everything on research and what's going on in the world of marketing. I don't market myself as someone... as I said before we got started, who's like, "I can get you 500 leads in five minutes". I don't market myself in that way at all. And part of my journey has been, that the people that I want to [00:07:00] work with don't want that either. It's still presented problems or challenges along the way, because there's so many people out there who seem to want that like really quick result when that's not necessarily going to get you the long-term benefits that a real business owner is looking for. That's what I mean by a "magic pill".
[00:07:20] Now that said. What I offer actually is a "magic pill" in that it gives people more time and money and they could focus on the parts of their business that they actually love when your tech is actually working for you. You're not having to work on it all the time. Right. That gives you a lot more freedom and a lot more choices about how you as a business owner are spending your time. I have to acknowledge that not everybody spends their time testing software so much as I do.
[00:07:48]I just love it. Yet I know that like most of the people who are watching this are going to be like, "well, that sounds boring. I don't want to test software." We all have to do that thing that brings us joy. The tagline for my business is " [00:08:00] bring joy back to your business."
[00:08:01]For me, the way that I bring joy back to people is, I don't judge people about whatever it is that has them tied in knots. I help you make your business life easier and more joyful because you're not worried about how you're showing up online.
[00:08:17] Janene: [00:08:17] Right. Wow. There's a lot in there.
I think one of the first points that I want to bring back is being very clear about who you're targeting. That is absolutely essential when it comes to pricing.
You are very clear about who you want to reach out to and how you want to connect with them.
[00:08:33] On what level you want to connect to them. That that enables you to do more with your pricing, then if you were weren't, you know, that true to yourself and to who you're targeting at the same time. Kudos for that .
[00:08:45]Jen: [00:08:45] That's been a journey. That took a long time to really... My colleague, Sandra Hughes calls it Customer Discovery. That's what it is. It was kind of like bad experiences, good experiences. Then you're like, I want more of that and less of less of this. It's that [00:09:00] journey. I think that that's how you also established pricing, is through that understanding of meeting with people and talking to people and getting a real sense of who really is your jam. Who vibes off of you the most.
[00:09:13]Janene: [00:09:13] When I work with people, that's where we start. I just started a Challenge yesterday, it's a Customer Value Challenge, how to do customer interviews.
[00:09:21]It amazes me. About 80% of people that I ask have you done customer interviews? They kind of go. No. Yeah. It's funny. I can always tell what's coming. But it is really important not just to pricing. It is absolutely critical it's the first step, when it comes to pricing, but when it comes to your selling to your marketing, to everything else you're doing in your business. I always go back to the late Tony . Hsieh. When he wrote his book about Zappos and how they went about their vision and their mission and their values, it was so customer [00:10:00] centric. They really lived for fulfilling those things for not just the customer, but also themselves, but it was all rooted in how they wanted to be with the customer. I very much admire that.
[00:10:13] Jen: [00:10:13] A hundred percent. I come into it with my work as well. Where people where I'm like, well, do you know what your customers want? They're like, no, not really.
[00:10:22] I'm like, well, have you asked them. A fundamental piece of digital marketing, of all marketing is that you ask for feedback. People are too scared to ask for feedback. How do you really feel about the work that we're doing? The thing is, even if somebody tells you something bad, it's good because it gives you the chance to adjust and change what you're doing.
[00:10:43]One of the books that I really love is the E-Myth. And they talk about that gold standard. Right? You're never going to get to that gold standard if you don't ask people how it's going along the way. And nor are you going to ever be able to price right because you're not delivering services at the level that people [00:11:00] expect.
[00:11:00]Janene: [00:11:00] I was talking with a client about that this morning, that when you try to be a generalist selling anything to everyone, you end up with lower than average prices, because that's the only way to get the breadth of customers that you might need.
[00:11:16] With time you become more general and more general and your prices keep sliding. It's really difficult. It's very important. And I love the E-Myth. That is a fabulous book. There's two books for you, ladies and gentlemen, that you definitely want to check out.
[00:11:31]Bringing joy back to business. This is really great. When I first read this "magic pill" statement, one of the things I caution people about is that you have to be really careful about your own mindset. If you see what you're doing as not so valuable to people, i.e. It's not the magic pill that can also influence what you do. And how customers perceive that.
How have you navigated that yourself? [00:12:00]
[00:12:00]Jen: [00:12:00] This has been part of my journey. Realizing that what I offer is magic to other people. Just because it's not magic to me, doesn't mean that it's less valuable.
[00:12:11]Part of what makes me different from my competitors or other people is that I don't want people to feel like technology is magic. Because then magic is not something you can understand, address , fix.
[00:12:24]I'm passionate about helping my clients understand that they can take care of these things. They just need some documentation. They need a little bit of knowledge so they know when things are going wrong. But it's not magic.
[00:12:37]Even though it feels like it. Even though it's great, when your stuff is working, it's not actually magic. That is, counter-culture about what I offer compared to other marketers. I like to work myself out of a job, not all marketers like to do that. Right. It's a lot different. Part of it is , I'm not offering a magic pill.
[00:12:57]It's a different relationship when you work with [00:13:00] me. It is magic ... the perception of people that I work with. I also want to address the other part of what you're saying, which is, remember I came into this thinking everybody could do what I could do. Part of my journey has been like, well, I guess it actually is a magic pill. In fact, last night I was talking to some colleagues and they're like, but you do offer a magic pill. So it is kind of navigating those ideas of how do you communicate that?
[00:13:28] It is about just communicating results. It's about communicating what you've, what, how, how the emotional change has occurred, which is what happens a lot. I don't feel like I can empower somebody. Empowerment comes from within, but what I can do is, show somebody to the water fountain, where they can drink the empowerment and feel it for themselves. You don't get that from a lot of nerdy tech people, but what I want is for people to really feel better and more secure in their business.
[00:13:58]Janene: [00:13:58] It's a great example because [00:14:00] people, often when it comes to things that are technical or things that seem obvious to the specialist,
[00:14:09] it's not obvious to everyone else. We have to remember that there's value in the expertise that we bring to the table. And the experience that we have to be able to make that something that's digestible or usable for the non technical person as well.
That's part of the magic that happens, baby.
[00:14:31] Jen: [00:14:31] Absolutely. One of the jokes that I give to people is you don't want me to do your taxes. Like, you know, like we all have our lane, you know, and, and what I find, it's kind of back to that generalist comment, right? If you don't stay in your lane, you're never going to be able to charge what your, your value is what your worth is. If you're always trying to do all the things, you can't do that. I joke about money because it's the thing that I'm like, yeah, no. I don't math, I don't do that, but you have to be aware and [00:15:00] then you have to be willing to pay other people.
[00:15:01] I honestly think the more you're willing to pay other people, the more people are going to pay you. Because you see that value. You're willing to pay somebody else and then you're willing to also charge what you're worth when you start.
[00:15:15] Janene: [00:15:15] I hear from people a lot of the time, I would never pay that. I said, yeah, but are you your own target customer? You have to look at it from their perspective, not from your perspective. But I also believe if you've never paid out that much money for something, it is hard for you to fathom somebody else doing it. You're right, that there is sort of a reciprocation at some point that needs to happen there.
[00:15:38]I have a couple of rapid questions because we're going to getting to the end here. The first one is.
What is the one thing that you really want people to take away from our conversation today?
I think it's that you need to understand that pricing is a journey and you have to be looking at it all the time.
[00:15:59] You have to [00:16:00] adjust for it all the time and you have to listen to what people are telling you about it. It wasn't too long ago that I had a really big client. I submitted a proposal and they're like, you're the only one who listened to us. You're the only one who gave us a really personalized proposal, but you're not charging enough.
[00:16:17] So here we're going to pay you $2,000 more than what you said. I was like, hot dog more money. And then the next breath, I was like embarrassed because I need to be charging more... clearly. Taking that on and understanding it, that's part of my journey.
[00:16:33] I think it's part of everybody else's as well is to understand your expertise, talk to other people about what they charge, but know, your rate may be different.
[00:16:43] Janene: [00:16:43] Yeah, very good.
In a business context, and in terms of starting your own business, what is it that you know, now, and you really wish you knew back in the very beginning.
That business owners [00:17:00] or people who are just starting out should understand or think about.
[00:17:04]Jen: [00:17:04] I would say that it's more of a journey than people make it look. Don't believe everything that you see and read, understand that some of these big names you're looking at, they have entire staffs like helping them with everything, you know, you can't look at Gary Vaynerchuk and be like, Oh, I'm going to do that. 'Cause he has like hundreds of people helping him and you're not going to have that.
[00:17:24]It is about being excellent at what you do and coming up with what you can do over and over again in service to others. working with that and understanding that you might not be charging enough at the beginning.
[00:17:36] Cause I know I wasn't. I was charging a really, really low rate.
[00:17:40]Janene: [00:17:40] Most people have been. I would say that when I asked the question, what was your biggest pricing mistake? Most people say I didn't charge enough at the beginning. And you know, part of my role is to help people do that for less longer or not start there at all. These conversations are about helping people be aware that they need to [00:18:00] consider that as well.
[00:18:01] Jen: [00:18:01] And don't do things in trade. I did that too. You mean don't do is exchanges you mean? Yeah. Yeah. Or if you do, you'd be very clear about what those terms are.
[00:18:10] Janene: [00:18:10] Yeah.
[00:18:11] Jen: [00:18:11] Because sometimes you're just working for free and, and that doesn't serve anybody.
[00:18:15] Janene: [00:18:15] Yeah. Yeah, I agree.
So Jen, if people want to find out more about how to work with you, where can they go?
[00:18:22] Jen: [00:18:22] Yeah. Go to www.womenconquerbiz.com or if you want to listen to more of this, you can go to www.womenconquerbiz.com/free. There's a tool there to really help you get clear about your goals, which also helps you with things like technology.
[00:18:37]Janene: [00:18:37] Thank you so much for being on the show with me today. I really appreciate you being here. You had some great messages, some great things for people to be considering and think about in their own business.
[00:18:47]Jen: [00:18:47] Thank you so much for having me.
[00:18:49] Janene: [00:18:49] To those of you who are watching and, or listening. Thank you for being here with us today. If you have questions about pricing in your business, head on over to [00:19:00] www.thepricinglady.com.
[00:19:02] Grab my Pricing Scorecard. It's a self-assessment tool. That'll help you to understand where you are with pricing in your business. That's all for today. Everyone. I wish you all the best and until next week, enjoy pricing everyone. .