Punishing your best customers

Let me start by saying I’m a massive, massive Derek Sivers fan. His book Anything You Want is compulsory reading for anyone in business – completely inspiring.

Anything You Want

And even more impressive is that at the end of the book Derek puts his email address and says something like “if I can help, shoot me an email.” So I did – I said I was writing a book about implementation, and would love to interview him. He said yes, and was extraordinarily generous with his time and insights. And a lot of what he said made it into the book.

Recently he put out series of eBooks about doing business in 16 different Asian countries. He priced them at $50, which is unusual for an eBook, but I’ve always liked the idea of value pricing. I was putting together my 90 Days to Your Gun VA program, which focuses on effectively hiring a virtual assistant in the Philippines, so I bought the book on the Philippines.

A few weeks later he sent out an email saying that they were all on special at Amazon for $9.99. Derek has got a lot of credit with me, so I’m all good. But I also thought that he’s just punished his best customers. Anyone who responded to his first email and bought straight off the bat is $40 in the hole.

There was a while where I was doing the same thing. We have a program that we sell in seminars for around $10k (a little less if its paid upfront). On the website we advertise it for $15k. Mostly that’s so that at our seminars we can offer a discount.

But every now and then we have people bypass the seminar and buy it straight off the website. I even had one person who we had never spoken to enter a credit card on the website for $15k over 12 months. Now that’s easily our best customer, and the easiest sale, but effectively we’re punishing them for buying so quickly.

And we also worried about what would happen if they ever came to a seminar and saw the discounted price. So we threw in some extra mentoring and bits and pieces for the first couple.

But then we started giving those people the same discount. Feels much better, and giving people $5k back straight off the bat, which they were prepared to pay, creates massive goodwill from the get-go from our best customers.

Love to hear your thoughts – how are you punishing your best customers? You can leave them below.