Pricing experiment – was it worth it?
So, we’re a fortnight on from running our first ever ‘pay what you think it’s worth‘ event. And, the burning question is – was it worth it?
We’ve run a handful of public workshops over the last 18 months, with varying success. And, I wanted to test a few things out and make a decision as to whether an open training offer was a good idea for Clear Thought. Our consultancy work is specifically for medium-sized businesses. Typically 20+ employees with a seven figure turnover.
But, we get lots of enquiries and newsletter sign-ups from smaller businesses and sole traders who need the same advice, but don’t have pockets to match. Open workshops is an obvious way of meeting this need, where we can impart more generic advice for them to take back to their businesses.
We’ve tried pricing full-day workshops from £95 to £250. And, we’ve achieved groups of between 5 and 15 people. I wanted to see if we could get more of a crowd, and work out what people are willing to pay.
First off, we teamed up with a complementary expert, Lee Cottier from Think Productive, to add some further value. Having identified that time is often what holds small businesses back from marketing, we felt that combining a workshop with what you should do and how to make time for it would be particularly beneficial. Then, we decided to be bold on the pricing. We went for a £5 booking fee, and then a top-up after the event of their choice. The rationale was that their top-up payments would give us a benchmark on pricing.
Did people like the idea?
Yes! We were aiming for 20 people. We had 26 people register and 24 people turn up on the day. That’s an increase on the numbers that we’ve previously attracted to public workshops. So, I think the low fee definitely reduced a few barriers.
In terms of the day itself, it was the first time we had presented this specific content, so it was a bit experimental. Indeed, I think we felt more able to be experimental because of the fee structure. The majority of attendees gave glowing feedback. The couple who were less effusive felt that they suffered from information overload. All of the people who took the time to feedback gave us really constructive ideas for enhancement too, which is really valuable in itself.
Some of the comments received:
“As a business owner responsible for marketing in a competitive environment, I found the workshop very motivational and easy to grasp. It helped me feel excited again about ‘getting out there’ and whilst I have knowledge of marketing techniques it was great to come away with new ideas and to be reminded of how a simple framework and ‘little and often’ efforts make it all manageable when trying to juggle the to-do list.”
“A very professionally delivered overview of the science, practicalities and etiquette of marketing. With some great practical tips.”
“I thought overall the workshop worked well, but I think there was perhaps too much content for the time allocated. There seemed a constant rush to move onto the next point rather than develop the current one. I appreciate that there is always a balance to be struck between detail and volume, but personally I would have preferred slightly less content but more detail and time spent on each recommendation raised. I thought the handouts were excellent though; very precise and informative.”
Did we make any money?
If we don’t count the time that Lee and I put into preparing the material and presenting on the day, then yes. We made a very small three figure sum. Of the 24 people who came along, 15 have paid a top-up fee to date. So, with a bit of gentle nudging we might get this figure up. If we do count our time, then we made a whopping loss! Providing we re-use the material, then we’re ok with that.
What have we learnt?
Here’s a summary of the learning from this experiment:
- Perfect for testing: It’s a great model for testing new workshop ideas. You feel more able to be experimental and people seem more willing to give more detailed feedback, perhaps in lieu of payment.
- Great for awareness: The pricing approach made promoting the event much easier. It gave us a hook for a press release which was well covered locally, and it was picked up virally in social media.
- Gets the numbers up: As an addition the the awareness point, you will get more people in the room. So, an event like this would work well as a way of marketing your business.
- It’s not a money spinner: You won’t make your millions this way. People will use it as a way of getting a freebie.
- Get IOUs on the day: We followed up with an email afterwards, I think we would have had more top-ups if we had asked people to complete an ‘I owe you’ on the day. This would also reduce PayPal fees, and follow-up admin.
- An add-on purchase: The event would have been perfect for driving people to purchase some online materials as a follow-up, like an eBook or deeper self-serve online training.
- Benchmark price: I think it’s around the £100 mark for micro businesses. Between £250 – £500 for larger businesses.
Would we do it again?
Yes. I’m thinking about an event with this pricing structure quarterly. Perhaps with different complementary experts each time. But, before we do I’m going to spend some time working on those add-on purchases to make sure that there’s less of a hole in our bucket. After all, I really should practice what I preach!
Clear Thought Consulting works with small businesses, equipping them with the marketing strategies, suppliers, skills and set-up that they need to become bigger businesses. We do this by planning and delivering 12-month marketing transformation programmes – supporting a small business through a step-by-step process to making marketing pay. We firmly believe that when you can’t out-spend your competition, you have to out-think them.
Published on 10 March 2011