Suzanne is having a rough day.
(Suzanne is a real client, but I’ve changed her name. Everything else is the same.)
She has an established business, but she hasn’t been able to give it as much time as she’d like because her children are young and unschooled. After years of balancing… and balancing… and balancing, she’s finally in a position to focus on business growth.
Suzanne has recently created a membership site, and the launch went well. She did better than she expected. As a result of that (and a few other small successes) she’s been investing a lot in her business, and she’s put her family on a temporary strict budget. She wants to invest as much as she can into growth in the short term, so they’ll be set up well for the future, or any rainy days ahead.
Suzanne’s family isn’t broke, by any means. But they’re budgeting. She has kept a firm hand on the purse-strings to make sure all of their needs get met, including the needs of her growing business.
Yesterday, she went out for a walk with her children, and they passed a restaurant where the patrons were dining al fresco. The kids looked hungrily at the platters of breakfast, and started talking about how nice it would be when they could eat out in restaurants for breakfast. Bacon featured heavily in the conversation.
On the phone with me, Suzanne cried. She feels guilty that her children don’t have everything she wants them to have. She feels guilty that they see other kids with things her kids don’t have. Very normal for a parent with kids their age.
She wants to serve.
She’s considering dropping the price of her membership site so that she can be more inclusive.
The price is VERY modest as it is, but she’s thinking about lowering it further, or creating a lower tier, so that she can include “women who can’t afford it”.
She can’t afford bacon, but she wants to drop her prices.
I hear this sort of thing a lot. Business owners who are struggling to make the investments they want to make, but also want to drop, and drop, and drop their prices, because they want to “serve the community”.
You already know my thoughts on people who write to you and tell you “they would buy, they just can’t afford it”. (If you don’t already know my thoughts, you can find them here.) We get the “I can’t afford it” emails and we think, “Maybe we should do something different! Maybe we should try harder! Maybe we should give away more! And more! And more!”
Pro tip: Stop it.
I’ve heard people say this about $9 a month memberships. I’ve heard it about $5 a month Patreons, for God’s sake. If Suzanne drops her prices, the sob stories will not decrease commensurately. They’ll stay the same. They might even get worse.
As much as I sound like a mean, evil, meanie pants, I do understand Suzanne’s predicament. Especially when we’re in healing or teaching or transformation fields, we want to give to the community, even when we, ourselves, don’t have enough.
So, for Suzanne, and for anybody else who might be in a similar situation, I give you…
5 Ways To Serve The Community Without Dropping Your Prices
If you want to help people, here are some ways to do it.
1. Write a book.
Make it free, or very cheap. Write a book and put it on Amazon, and charge $2.99 or something. That oughta keep ‘em busy for a while. It also makes a great calling card for you. You serve the community, yes, but you also get a book under your belt. “Serving the community” doesn’t just “slash your profit margin and get nothing in return”. If you’re going to do all this serving, you may as well get a podcast interview or two out of the deal. And speaking of podcasts…
2. Start a podcast.
Once you get past the front-end challenges of creating a podcast, it’s pretty easy to keep it going. (Especially if you’re not too fussy about editing out every “um”.) You’ll get to meet and get to know members of your community, and you’ll get to expand your reach to other communities as well. Everyone’s experience will get richer if you expand the voices represented in your world. Plus, it’s free. No sad-faced “but I’m really broke emails” required. On that note…
3. Write a great blog.
Same deal here. Every blog post is free content, so price is never an issue. Whatever arena you serve in, you can contribute almost infinitely here. Ideally, when it comes to content, you want uber-practical, “thinsliced” content – content people can use. If you want to be of service, the community is better served by utility than theory, motivation, or abstract thought. (If you don’t know how to create this type of content, get The 1-Hour Content Plan.)
(Ironically, people who open up a vein on their blog, giving and giving, still worry about lowering their prices to “serve the community”. I’ll repeat the pro tip: stop it. You can serve plenty on your blog.)
4. Teach for free.
By all means, teach and mentor and contribute to the community. Do your civic duty, and do so with my blessing. I’m not against free. I’m against doing yourself (and your brand) harm with unnecessary discounts.
Host a monthly free webinar. Do chats on Twitter. Go on Facebook or YouTube live. You can do free stuff. But make your paid stuff paid. Properly.
5. Create a culture of questions.
Wondering what to discuss within a podcast, blog, or webinar? Invite questions. Frequently. Add a PS on your list emails that says, “Want to have your questions answered? Click reply and send them in – I’ll see if I can answer it in an upcoming [blog/podcast/webinar].” Instead of answering one person’s question by email, get some content out of it that can reach many more people.
I have rarely received more email response than a few months ago when I ran my AMA series. I’m still answering questions from that thing. Many of the people whose questions I answered have become first-time customers, and even clients. But for this to work, you have to create a culture of questions. The first time you ask, you won’t get much. You want people going about their life, running into an issue, and thinking, “Ooh, I should ask Naomi!” THAT is a culture of questions.
The time to wantonly drop your prices in the name of inclusiveness is when your children can afford to eat bacon whenever they want.
Until then, do something on this list.
You can give back to the community without going broke.
You can contribute without inadvertently creating a charitable organization.
Next time you’re tempted to drop your prices, look at this list and ask yourself if you’re doing everything you can here, before you start dropping your prices there.