There is a lot of talk in the media about a Double Dip Recession. That just doesn’t sound good. In fact, the phrase makes small business owners feel like getting into hunker-down mode again just so they can stay in business. So don’t be surprised if a lot of board presentations and annual reports start using phrases like “Positioning for success” which is just another way of saying Doing more with less.
With that in mind, I’ve pulled together three books that I’ve recently received from publishers. The common theme of these books is MONEY. Each book takes a spin on how to understand value, focus on profitability and then create prices that will make you the most money.
I’ll begin by saying that these books aren?t exactly entertaining summer reading. They are bordering on academic books that small business owners and managers need to read as part of their continuing education. Hopefully, the credit you’ll get will come in the form of an increasing bottom line.
Spend Shift puts what we value in context
I’m starting with Spend Shift because it’s the least academic of the three and will help you to get your arms around how your customers will be perceiving “value” all across the United States. Spend Shift is a sort of documentary that follows the primary author John Gerzema as he travels across a variety of cities in the United States and presenting the Brand Asset Valuator data.
Each chapter takes place in a specific city and the authors have pulled out the primary results that reflect the experiences of that city in order to give the data a more real and personal feel.
The BrandAsset Valuator is an ongoing study of American consumers and how and what they value. It holds data on over 40,000 brands in over 50 countries.
The book focuses primarily on the results from about 17,000 US respondents. It’s managed by John Gerzema and Young and Rubicam. Here are just some of the results from the study: 84% (total population) agree “These days I feel more in control when I do things myself instead of relying on others to do them for me.”
65% of the total population say Since the recession I am interested in learning new skills so I can do more myself.
Spend Shift take-a-ways for you to ponder
While I don’t mean to give away the ending of this insightful study, I do want to share the conclusions of the study so that you will be inspired to get the book and get into the details for yourself. The results are really empty and meaningless without the voice of the characters that you meet in each chapter.
- We are moving from a credit to a debit society
- There are no longer consumers, only customers
- Industries are revealed as collections of individuals
- Generational divides are disappearing
- Society is shifting from consumption to production
- We must think ?small to solve big.
- America is an emerging market for values-led innovation
- Everything will be alright.
Small business owners and marketers are the ideal audience for this book because it will give you insight into exactly where and how your customers are placing value. The personal stories and actual voices of the customer will help you to formulate better messages and offers.
Pick up Spend Shift as your trend research and consumer research resource
Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink will focus you on where to find money –INSIDE your business
If you’re going to survive and succeed in a post-crisis economy, then you’re going to have to get really good at finding money inside your business. Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink will give you the opportunity to get an Ivy League education on finding islands of profit all over your company.
Jonathan L.S. Byrnes is a senior lecturer at MIT and advises companies on how to become more profitable. Jonathan busts through several profit myths like: Revenues are good. Costs are bad, We should give our customers what they want, all customers should get the same great service and more. If you’re already fuming after reading some of these statements, then you’ll want to sink your teeth into this book for sure. This is not a picture book.
You’ll find a couple of charts and graphs, but that’s about the only entertainment your eyes will get. This is a brainy book written for business owners and managers who are serious about making money in 2011. You may not like what you read because it will challenge what you thought you knew for sure.
You may find some of the concepts too technical, ?especially if you don’t come from a cost accounting or financial background. Just remember, the point of the book isn’t to make you a professional financial manager it’s to help you find extra money inside your business.
Islands of Profit will also make you smart enough to ask good questions when you go looking for people who DO have the professional experience it takes to put this book into motion. Pick up a copy for yourself, your staff and any potential job interviewees.
Practical Pricing will teach you to put a profitable pricing plan together
If you enjoyed The Art of Pricing and 1% Windfall, then you are ready to graduate to Practical Pricing: Translating Pricing Theory Into Sustainable Profit Improvement. The author, Michael Calogridis has over 15 years? experience in developing pricing strategies. He’s worked for FedEx, AT&T Wireless, Quest Diagnostics and Philips Medical Systems. While Practical Pricing is meant for practical application, I would definitely say that it’s a more intermediate level pricing book whose purpose is to actually get you to design and write a pricing plan for your company.
This is a short book but don’t let that fool you. Each chapter is filled to the brim with important concepts, examples and implementation strategies. As you’d expect, the primary audience for this book is a mid-level manager in a mid-sized organization or a financial executive within a smaller organization. You really have to have a good handle on how to track your costs and manage your product offerings for profit. Here are a few concepts from the book that you’ll learn:
- Pricing Assessment A list of questions asking each individual involved in a company’s pricing process what their specific analytical processes are in developing recommendations for their area of price involvement.
- Competitive Review A product-by-product analysis against both the internal history and measured competitive price intelligence.
- Price Leakage The overall term for the analysis that will document any product level average selling price variances versus major competitors as well as the selling price concessions to sign customers to contracts.
Why You Should Read These Books
While a business owner doesn’t have to be an expert in every area, it’s important that we all know and understand how money moves from our company in the form of investment, to the customer in the form of product and value and then back to our company in the form of profit. Each of these three books will give every business owner and high-level manager a good education in those areas. While these may NOT sound like entertaining reading they will provide you with ways to make more money with which to entertain yourself to your heart?s desire.