It’s been two months now and if you’re anything like me you still can’t get into the habit of going to the cupboard in the kitchen and grabbing a selection from the half a million carrier bags for your weekly trip to Sainsburys.
Every time I now arrive at the checkout I get that look that says, “you’re going to have to pay for your bags you know”, followed by the dreaded question of, “how many bags are you going to need today?”
I groan for a millisecond and then reality hits me. I realise this isn’t a big deal at all, they’re only 5p each…
But it has been a big deal. Huge.
The whole plastic bag charge thing blew up all over social media, with millions of people applauding it, moaning about it, and just plain old talking about it.
What’s most interesting is that the bag levy has provoked a significant change in how we do our shopping.
Pre-October 5th, We’d stroll into Sainsburys without a care in the world, load up our trolley, head to the checkout and bag our shopping up; sometimes even double-bagging the wine if we were feeling frivolous.
Nope. These days you can walk down a high street and see people clutching recently purchased, unbagged items in their hands or at the very least with festoons of used plastic bags falling out of their pockets.
In short, people are taking this very seriously indeed. They’re not going to pay for a bag.
But, when you stop to think about it, this behaviour is C-R-A-Z-Y.
Say you head to Waitrose and spend £150. A decent chunk of cash in exchange for some nice groceries. £150 worth of shopping is going to require five, six bags at the most, at the outrageous sum of 30 pence.
But the public won’t pay that 30 pence. When they’ve just spent £150.
All of a sudden, just because it’s no longer free, the perceived value of each plastic bag has gone up drastically; to the point where it is now seen as a luxury that only the upper echelons of society are prepared to pay for.
But it’s not. It’s just five pence. But its five pence that makes a difference.
This raises an important question for you in your market. What do you give away for free that could and should be valued much more highly by your customers?
What is there within your proposition that isn’t being valued highly enough right now?
What’s your plastic bag?
Do your customers truly value everything you do for them, or are there things you do that they simply don’t appreciate?
Just to be clear, you don’t need to start charging for all of the things that you currently give away ‘for free’, but putting a value on them alerts your customer to the true worth they’re receiving from you.
Do you currently get customers via a face-to-face meeting or a telephone call? If you don’t charge prospects for this process, do you at least let them know the value of it?
I know an accountant who’s a good example of this. Before a client comes on board with her, she sits down with them for an hour and talks to them about their business. No money changes hands, but what does change hands is her time. How much is that worth to her?
Usually she’d charge £250 an hour. So rather than sitting down for that hour without demonstrating the time value to her, she puts a £250 value on this initial ‘Business Growth Session’, and then gives it away for free to her prospects. The session is then designed to add value to her prospect, but also to explain to them why they need her services.
All of a sudden, by putting a value on her hour-long session, the positioning and value of that session has ascended drastically, and she’s able to use it as leverage to drive behaviour.
Communicating the value of what you do is one of the hardest – and most crucial – things you can do as a business owner. Make sure you don’t forget to show the value of every element of your proposition, from initial enquiry, to sale to after-sales care.