When my coaching students ask me if they should lower their prices in order to generate more business, I usually prompt them to look at the other side of the coin and think of ways to increase the value they deliver in order to generate more business. It may not be an easy task but it is a feasible task and one that happens to be more profitable.
My Dad taught me that there are always two sides to everything. Recently I saw once again just how wise his words were, when the Athens-based communications agency Kommigraphics convinced me to pay ten times more for their website design services than the amount that their lowest bidding competitor had asked for.
We will see whether I invested wisely when the new Michael R. Virardi website goes live and my brand identity is revealed in the first week of September!
The Three-Pillar Approach to Success
Having told you that Kommigraphics was the highest bidder, let me show you how they convinced me to stretch my budget. After analyzing our business deal, I have come up with the following three simple pillars that any company or ambitious start-up can emulate and – literally – profit from.
From the start, even before there was a clear commitment on my part, Kommigraphics involved me in their process by sending me a questionnaire containing 28 (!) questions in six categories. They ranged from fundamental issues such as “What are the core values of your business?” to details like “Do you have any colour preferences?”
Lesson: Get your prospect involved in the ‘selling’ process early on. Her answers to your questions reveal the prospect’s inner wishes and thoughts, which you can incorporate in your initial designs and proposals. This will differentiate you from your competitors and increase your chances of persuading the prospect to become a customer.
The market has always rewarded companies and individuals that make things easier. It is no coincidence that several companies (including Zscaler and Panda Protection) all advertise their products with the same slogan: “Twice the functionality at half the price.” The question that a company should be asking itself in every aspect of its operations is “What can we simplify to make things easier for ourselves/our customers?”
Kommigraphics simplified things and made life easier for me by:
- Giving me a ‘Time Plan’ clearly indicating what to expect from them and when. It also included their expectations of me upon completion of each stage. It couldn’t have been simpler. I already know that, from August 11, 2017, the website will be ready to launch if I so wish.
- Assigning one person to oversee my account. Maria Bakogianni administers everything immaculately and, 80% of the time, replies to any queries not within the day but within the hour!
Lesson: Just as Amazon has made it easier to buy things, Uber has made it easier to get a taxi, and Airbnb has made it easier to find affordable accommodation, so has Kommigraphics made it easier to work across borders. Find ways to eliminate anything that is unnecessary. Today, you are serving the most informed, knowledgeable and demanding customers of all time.
On the Kommigraphics website is a page where you will find references to the 42 awards that the company has received in Greece and elsewhere since 2005. That equates to 3.5 awards per year for the last 12 years, which is itself no small feat but, to my mind, the company’s two biggest achievements are the following:
- Positive word-of-mouth:
I was introduced to Kommigraphics by Nicholas Argyrou, Managing Director of Bunkernet Cyprus, whose website, which I admired, happened to be their work. When I asked Nicholas about his experience with the award-winning agency, he told me, “You not only need to work with them but you have to work with them if you want to take the Michael Virardi brand to the next level.”
- Never bad-mouth your competitors:
My decision to have a brand new website was partly due to the so-called “bounce rate”, the percentage of visitors who navigate away from a site after viewing only one page. When I told Kommigraphics MD, Fanis Apatangelos, about this, he could have seized the opportunity to tell me what an awful job my previous designed had done. In fact, he told me, “The easy thing for me to do is accuse the competition. The hard thing, which is also the right thing to do, is to figure out where and why visitors to your site bounce. A visitor to your existing site might bounce after just 11 seconds but they might have managed in the mean time to complete the ‘Contact me back’ form to potentially hire you for an up-coming event.” That nailed it for me. I could see myself signing an agreement before he had completed his sentence.
Lesson: In his book “Born Standing Up”, the comedian Steve Martin says that you should be “so good that people cannot ignore you.” If you combine your best efforts with your passion, then your work will be so good that your customers will become ‘advertising billboards’ for you (as Nicholas from Bunkernet did for Kommigraphics), your industry will reward you (with awards such as the 42 that Kommigraphics has scooped up so far) and, last but not least, your story will become a case study for others to follow (as this blog post of mine is doing)!
My Dad was right. There are two sides to every coin. I could have ignored Kommigraphics’ excellent work by focusing solely on the fact that it was more expensive than that of its competitors, or – as actually happened – let myself be inspired and excited by the company’s work and attitude, focusing more on the value that was going to be added to my own work. Always see both sides!