Hourly rates? Their time has surely come…

6 reasons professional firms should dump hourly billing right now!

I was personally reminded today of the perils of time-costing so beloved of solicitors, accountants and many consultants. I received an unfathomably large bill from a lawyer who did some property work about 3 months ago. I was aghast, but immediately grasped the problem.

He had billed me for what the job was worth to him – the supplier, not what it was worth to me – the customer!

I have approached his firm with a proposal to help him move from hourly billing to value pricing. The proposition that “time is money” is over 250 years old, and attributed to Benjamin Franklin. However, clocks don’t write cheques, and you don’t attract and retain clients by selling hours.

You sell solutions, service and value.

For the benefit of any designers, SEO dudes, consultants, advisers, laywers or accountants currently charging clients by the hour, here’s why switching to value pricing could transform your business:

1: Pricing a job at outset gets any objections from clients on the table before you start; far better than arguing over the bill at the end!

2: Clients feel special, as you are calculating a bespoke value for their work. Hourly rates, by contrast, are applied at the same level for everyone, irrespective of the value you are adding to their business.

3: Sharing risk by quoting fixed prices projects experience and confidence in your delivery and performance. Clients will feel that you must know you can do the job, otherwise you wouldn’t have committed to it.

4: Clients will appreciate that you are not about to rip them off. Can you imagine how you would feel if an airline charged by the mile for your ticket? Maybe the pilot would deliberately take the long route to rack up the costs!

 5: Value pricing forces internal efficiency. Fixing revenue ensures you will delegate and review work flows so you can offer service whilst ensuring you meet your own profitability aspirations.

6: Annual price increases are easier to factor in, as each job is costed individually. No firm likes sending out notices of hourly rate hikes, and no client likes receiving them.

In summary: value pricing encourages trust and nurtures long-term relationships with satisfied clients, leading to mutual profitability and success.

It’s time to ditch the clock and focus on value!



And now, here’s something of incredible value to you,  OFFERED AS A GIFT! Especially from me to you, as a loyal reader, I’m going to give you a HALF-HOUR OF POWER directly with me by Skype or phone. That’s right dudes and dudesses, wherever you are in the world, you can talk to me for 30 minutes about your business, and where you want to take it. Who knows, I might even be able to help!

Simply comment on this blog telling me in 140 characters or less (now there’s an idea…) what we’d talk about and why.  We’ll exchange contact details and get busy!

Here’s to your success,


7 ways bullets can kill: Missing the point of PowerPoint

Most of us have sat through countless turgid seminars, talks and sales pitches using slides generated by Microsoft PowerPoint. Having presented hundreds myself, I was drawn to an article in the New York Times quoting a US Army General slating the ubiquitous software as the “enemy within”!

“PowerPoint makes us stupid”, said Gen. James N. Mattis, Joint Forces Commander in Afghanistan. “It can create the illusion of understanding and control, when some problems are just not bulletizable.”

If you forgive the crazy made-up adjective at the end of that statement, there is a serious message here for your next presentation.

You see, communication should be designed to transfer emotion, to make your audience understand why you’re excited, passionate or otherwise concerned about your topic.

If all you want to do is create a list of facts and figures, save everyone time by sending them a report to read, and cancel the meeting.

On the other hand, if you’ve got a genuinely captivating pitch which needs a two-way forum, here are a few ideas for getting your (power) point across!

1 – Don’t put your cue cards on the screen; have them in your hand! Nobody wants to hear you recite what they’ve read 5 seconds earlier.

2 – Make your slides reinforce your message and provide a backdrop to your words.

3 – Use pictures and videos. As a visual medium, PowerPoint is ideal for displaying powerful images, which, as everyone knows, speak a thousand words each! Embedded video-bytes can really liven things up too.

4 – Minimise bullet points, and keep text to no more than 10 words per slide.


5 – Make loads of slides and keep up the pace. Internet-spoiled attention spans are way shorter now than when PP was first invented!

6 – Create a handout which doesn’t simply copy your presentation. If your slides could have the same impact when read later by anyone else, you didn’t need to be there at all! The takeaway should be text-rich and full of memorable information. Tell them you will be doing this, so your audience is not heads-down writing notes all day.

7 – Get feedback. Whether it’s via verbal questions on the day, or a request to complete a written document in the handout, you need to know what impact you’ve had on your audience.

Who knows, maybe you too will be able to avoid giving the type of presentations which the US military refer to as “Hypnotising chickens”!



Here’s a special treat for my loyal readers. If you send me an email telling me how you’d benefit from a half-hour’s business mentoring by me, I’ll do it FREE, wherever you are in the world, via Skype or ‘phone at a time to suit us both. jon@jupiterdawn.com

Lessons in Business from the Horrors of War

I’ve been reading an inspirational biography by Admiral Jim Stockdale, who was the highest ranking United States military officer in the “Hanoi Hilton” prisoner-of-war camp during the Vietnam War.

He was tortured repeatedly during his 8-year incarceration, yet maintained the respect of the military prisoners still under his command, whilst trying to ensure that the highest number of them survived their unthinkable ordeal.

Stockdale established rules allowing his men to reveal certain information after a given level of torture, understanding that no-one can withstand pain indefinitely.

He inflicted self-injury with stools and razors, so that his captors couldn’t film him on video to demonstrate their responsible custody to the outside world.

Reading the book, I was overwhelmed with the sense of desperation and isolation which he and his soldiers must have felt, and astonished that he was able to keep his spirits high, and to refuse to be broken.

Interviewed recently, he was asked how he dealt with such incredible hardship, and more poignantly with not knowing how, when or even if it would all end.

He replied that he never lost faith in the end of the story. He believed that, eventually, he would be released and be reunited with his family.

He was then asked who didn’t make it. “The optimists”, he replied, coining at once the concept now known as the Stockdale Paradox.

What he meant was that “those who told themselves, ‘We’ll be home by Christmas’, were disappointed when Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Stockdale finished his interview with a stunningly concise summary of his survival strategy, and one which I’m sure would be a useful edict with which to get through the albeit less life-threatening corporate torture wrought by these troubled economic times.

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

In business, that means never, ever losing your self belief, but setting realistic goals which you’ve got an evens chance of reaching.

For many of you right now, it also means keeping afloat in the recession, because you’ve got a brilliant product which will absolutely fly when things start moving again.

Respect to you, Admiral.


Now here’s something from me to you, to help you ride the storm!

Simply add a comment to this post telling me why you need a 30-minute mentoring session with Jonny Cooper! We can talk about your business plans, goals and issues. Yes folks, a complimentary half-hour of power with me via Skype or phone! I look forward to talking to you. Jonny.

How to give stuff away for profit!

I was just talking to a group of enlightened entrepreneurs who are refusing to lie down and suffer the consequences of the economic downturn. One of their crunch-busting techniques is as old as the hills, but they’ve recently refined it to an art form.

It’s called giving stuff away!

You know the lovely warm feeling when you pull on a pair of jeans you haven’t worn for ages and find a ten pound note (ten dollar bill for you Yanks…) in the pocket? And don’t those free deli samples in Sainsbury’s/Walmart taste so much better than the same thing you actually buy?

Well, that’s how your customers feel when they get more than they are expecting from you.

So, imagine how your prospects will respond to your marketing when they receive a free gift – without even making a purchase!

Giving “more” is a simple, inexpensive way to instantly improve your relationship with both customers and prospects.

Ideas for gifts… that cost you nothing!

1: Free reports, info packs, fact sheets and market analysis: these can all be made available online or by email to really slash the costs of delivery.

2: Newsletters: regular info and offer-packed communiqués to your database of prospects and customers.

3: Industry specific freebies: appeal to who you’re trying to sell to: recipes, sports tips, discount coupons, travel guides.

4: Trial offers: get them using your products for free and they’ll often need or want to continue and pay.

5: Buy one, get one free: this really does cost you nothing, providing your gross margin is more than 50%!

Ideas for gifts… that cost you a small amount

1: Company-branded items: hats, water bottles, mouse pads, pens etc

2: Non-related materials: stuffed animals, chocolates, alcohol, sports tickets

3: One of your products or services at no cost to them

4: Rewards for referrals or recommendations

5: Calendars and diaries: clichéd, corny, but nothing lasts a whole year like something with 12 months of dates on it!

The return on your “gift” investment could be worth thousands of pounds/dollars in sales. Make that extra effort and give your customers more than they are expecting.

Now I’m going to give you something free, with no strings attached!

Simply add a comment to this post telling me why you need a 30-minute mentoring session with Jonny Cooper! We can talk about your business plans, goals and issues. Yes folks, a complimentary half-hour of power with me via Skype or phone! I look forward to talking to you. Jonny.


Let’s try the most useless opening line EVER!

A friend of mine has a small business selling blinds to homes and workplaces. He said a few weeks ago that he’d had a new colour brochure done and was going to post it out to around 200 of his past customers.

I told him he would multiply his hit-rate maybe 10-fold if he followed up with chaser phone calls, and he set about his campaign.

I met him again over the weekend and asked him how things were going.

“Waste of time!” he blurted. “Something wrong with the post!” he continued. “Hardly anybody got their brochures!”

He’d sent them out as planned, and then starting calling around, using the opening line – “It’s Craig here from Acme Blinds” (names changed to protect the stupid) “Just wondered if you got the brochure we sent out last week”


Hmmm…Craig, you just used the most useless opening line in the history of useless opening lines! Here’s why, mate –

1- The only people who need to know whether a piece of post has arrived or not are customer service researchers at the Royal Mail.

2 – If the customer answers no (he hasn’t received it) he’s either lying to stall any further conversation (most likely), or you have his address wrong. Either way, it leaves you with next-to-no chance of recovering to a selling situation.

3 – If the customer answers yes, where does that leave you? You’ve then got to hit him with another question to move the call forward; usually “so…was it of interest then?” He’s probably already rehearsed the answer to that one, and it’s the one you’re expecting.

4 – Asking a “yes-or-no” question as an opening line is, always has been and always will be a pretty lame idea.

“Craig” could have supercharged his chances of success with this kind of pitch –

“…as you’ve been a customer of ours before, I wanted to let you know about a great deal we’ve got on at the moment: [Insert short, sharp, sexy info-hook] I can pop over Tuesday morning or Thursday afternoon to work out some prices for you…which would be better?”

An either/or question with an assumptive close built-in is a really powerful way to get what you want – in this case, a face-to-face appointment with the prospect.

And about that brochure – they definitely received it; it had either warmed them up nicely or they’d already thrown it away!

For a free one-hour business mentoring session with Jonny Cooper worth £175, leave a comment on this post below saying why you need and deserve it!

4 reasons you can’t afford a McLaren sportscar (And why you really, really should)

I’m writing this on St George’s day, a celebration of all things English, and I’ve just been driving the sublime blend of art and science that is the Surrey-built McLaren MP4-12C, the latest hypercar to come from Lewis Hamilton’s employer.

It won’t surprise you to hear that it’s supremely fast, beautiful and obsessively desirable.

Another thing you probably already know is that you won’t be driving one off the forecourt anytime soon. Isn’t it about time you thought about why the 200 or so McLarens built for the home market in 2012 will belong to someone else, and not you?

Hint: It’s not because the MP4-12C is too expensive.

Far from it; given the amount of time, expertise, creativity and engineering genius that’s gone into crafting this 205mph British icon, it’s a positive bargain at £186k.

No, it’s most likely the flip side of “too expensive” that’s stopping you adding your name to one of the UK’s most exclusive waiting lists.

It’s because you’re not earning enough money yet. 

If you’ve chosen your path as an employee: an important cog in someone’s larger machine, then fair enough. Your country, and your employer needs you, and your rewards are likely to be other than massive piles of spare cash.

However, if you’ve taken the plunge into business, with all the responsibility, liability and downright stress that comes with that territory, then don’t you reckon you deserve a £200k car every couple of years?

Here are 4 reasons why you can’t afford your McLaren (yet) –

1 – Your business plan is too modest. (You do have a business plan. Don’t you?)

Solution – Revise your goals with some blue-sky thinking. How good could you be?

2 – Your marketing plan is ineffective. (You do have a marketing plan. Tell me you do.)

Solution – Get coaching, mentoring or practical help from marketers with proven success. NB – Social Media can be a magic bullet to linking you with customers.

3 – You’re doing everything yourself. If the business is YOU, and YOU are the business, then how do you expect to earn any more than any other single employee?

Solution – Step back, delegate, and expand whilst you oil the machine you’ve made with other people’s cogs.

4 – You don’t enjoy your business. Maybe the novelty’s worn off, and you’ve got bored and aren’t giving your best. Or maybe the market’s changed so much that it’s no fun anymore.

Solution – Recruit an exit strategist to groom the business for sale, and move on with cash in your pocket (Preferably, at least £186k!)

I reckon anyone with the drive and enthusiasm to start their own venture deserves rich rewards.

Don’t settle for less.

For a free one-hour business mentoring session with Jonny Cooper worth £175, leave a comment on this post below saying why you need and deserve it!

(PS – If you’re already where you need to be, call David Tibbetts, the sales director himself at McLaren Birmingham on 01564 787 180 and tell him I sent you. Nothing in it for me, but it’ll let him know it was worth giving me the ride today)




5 reasons too much choice sucks!

I recently finished uploading my venerable CD collection to my ipod so I can play what I want in the car. Proud as I was of being able to carry 8150 songs around in my glove box, I was startled to hear my girlfriend complaining.

“Too much on here” she whined, “I can’t decide what to listen to!” I had to concede that she had a point, and one well worth carrying over into the commercial realm.

Just when is enough enough, and when does too much choice start to repel your customers?

I’ve had contact with a number of businesses recently which are proving that they don’t need to be all things to all men in order to succeed.

One of my clients sells a walking shoe specifically designed to improve posture and back pain, and claims to reduce cellulite. With that one product, she turned over £600k last year.

Then there’s the “one-deal-a-day” websites like http://woot.com which has gathered an almost cult following. There are plenty more jumping on this easy-to-grasp bandwagon, all offering customers’ one simple choice – take it or leave it!

In a world dominated by multi-national conglomerates, the best chance for an SME is to own a large share of a market niche. Here are 5 reasons why you should focus your business on a simple range of offers –

1: Experts get paid more. If your roof leaks, you’d sooner give £2000 to a roofing contractor than a general builder.

2: Simplify marketing. One clear brand message carries a lot more weight, and is cheaper to promote, than a long list of products and services.

3: Improve cashflow. If you manufacture or sell a range of tangible products, customers expect you to stock them all. The fewer you offer, the less space and working capital you need.

4: Competitors become friends. Your niche offering will conflict with fewer of your rivals, so they can recommend you to customers to compliment their business.

5: Get more referrals. If there are not many of you in your field, customers will be much more likely to pass you around to anyone else they meet who needs you.

As for my ipod; I’m going to get a smaller version and download a few hours of my favourites – any more is just too much!

Jon Cooper is the founder of JupiterDawn.com business coaching, and an Accredited Business Adviser with the IBD group. Exclusive to BLOG READERS – email jon@jupiterdawn.com for a free one-hour business mentoring session with Jon, worth £175.