Being recognised as an international expert has many benefits but it can also create problems, as one entrepreneurial couple found.
Debra Robson-Lawrence is a leading makeup artist responsible for changing the face of semi-permanent makeup in the UK and is recognised internationally as one of the few experts in her field. She and her husband Mike are co-directors of Specialist Make-Up Services Ltd. which offers semi-permanent makeup treatments, products and training programmes from its headquarters in London’s prestigious Harley Street.
On the face of it, the company would appear to be going from strength to strength with an annual turnover of about £500,000. But Debra’s success also created problems when it came to pricing structures, admits Mike.
“We have two technicians in the company, one of whom is Debra my wife. She is the ‘go to’ person in the industry. Our other technician is someone who had trained with us. There was a large difference in the price of treatments and it caused problems in the past.”
Debra signed up for the Platinum Programme and discussed the pricing problem with Jonathan Jay, Digital Lighthouse’s Founder. “He suggested we increase the prices that Debra’s assistant was charging. We did that immediately and it worked. There were no complaints from any of our customers even in the transitional period.
“It’s about letting the customers be the arbiters. We knew we’d find out very quickly if they objected to the new prices – they’d either complain or go somewhere else. But they didn’t.
“Because it was an inherent challenge within the company for a period of time, it was a quick win. The differences between the prices of treatments weren’t as huge as they were beforehand and we could safeguard the business, regardless of the recession.”
Interestingly, the initial resistance to the new pricing structure came from within the company.
“I think there was some reticence until our staff became comfortable with the new prices. They’re the ones on the phone selling a product or price… It was just mental barriers.”
Being part of the Platinum Programme has had other benefits too, says Mike. “We used to use a PR agency but we dropped it last year. But we still felt as if we needed to do some marketing and I attended a Digital Lighthouse course early this year and then my wife went on join the Platinum Programme. We recognised marketing would fill the gap left by the PR and give us necessary skills, tools, knowledge and expertise to market the product that we’ve got.
“[Digital Lighthouse PR Expert] Paul Green showed everyone how to create a press release. We subsequently created a press release and published it online. We had some good feedback from that and some business associated with it as well. Normally, we receive about 120 enquiries a month but after our press release went out, we had 10 to 15% more enquiries.
“And we have made contact with a number of journalists as a result and were able to get some leverage from that piece.”
Another big bonus has been having access to Jonathan’s contacts, says Mike. “He knows the type of business you have and knows the person who is best for you … as a result, we have also hired the services of sales and marketing coach and an SEO specialist. He also recommended we use email marketing service InfusionSoft and we’re about to start using it.”