Aligning Payments With Customer Expectations


Payment methods are something that SMB’s sometimes take for granted.

Too often, it’s a quick check:

  1. Do we accept major credit cards? If yes, proceed to 2
  2. Do we accept debit? If yes, get on with business.

…and that’s the problem.

Times are changing, and quickly.

Customers have come to expect services like subscriptions with free-trials, buy-now-pay-later, loyalty-point program integration, and location-of-service/time-of-service payment systems.

If you haven’t considered at least these items, it’s likely that you’re falling behind your customer expectations, and possibly losing either the initial or the subsequent sale.

Benefits of a well-aligned payment system include:

  1. Higher average basket – research indicates that smaller payments ease the financial burden of making a high-dollar purchase
  2. Higher conversion rates – 30% of consumers indicate that payment flexibility is a deciding factor
  3. Ability to expand customer base – BNPL has been widely accepted by GenZ and GenX.
  4. Improved customer experience, by offering an additional payment option.
  5. Improved customer loyalty – happy customers are likelier to return
  6. Increased web sales – by easily integrating with Apple Pay and Google Pay

We have payments specialists who can get your payment system up to speed, so that you can take advantage of these benefits.

Let’s talk:

5 Questions About Product Sampling

Sampling works

You know product sampling: it’s largely what clogs the aisles when you visit Costco.

But it goes beyond that:

  • It’s the free trial of a service, before you buy
  • It’s the base price that relentlessly upsells you to premium
  • It’s the free coupon that encourages you to visit a restaurant

“Does it work?” 

Roughly 35% of customers who try a product or service will buy it.  That’s way more powerful than advertising your service or product, which has comparatively dismal response rates that are (well, you know what they are).

  • The product’s merits are no longer in doubt: it’s proven (it works/it’s delicious/it’s beautiful/it fits/etc)
  • The consumer is now pre-disposed to look for your product the next time that they’re considering a purchase in your category
  • The risk has been removed (whatever the perceived risks were, the value proposition of the purchase has been accepted: the sales process has effectively ended)
  • Roughly 80% of buyers indicate that ‘pre-buy opportunity’ was a critical decision factor in their purchase
  • Up to 65% of buyers indicate that they would buy again – indicating that the customer lifetime value of sample-accepting customers is quite high

“What should we offer as a sample?’

While that depends on what you sell, we advocate guidelines that include:

  1. Something of value that indicates that you respect your customer
  2. Something that won’t break the bank to offer (ie you can offer many samples at relatively low cost)
  3. Something that will consistently reflect highly on you at point of redemption (ie your system won’t break if too many are redeemed)
  4. Something that can be offered to highly targeted buyers

Examples include:

  • Realtors provide a ‘complimentary market assessment of your home’.
  • Renovators provide a ‘complimentary quotation’
  • Restaurants provide a coupon for a complimentary appetizer or dessert
  • Dentists provide complimentary tooth whitening for new customers

“To whom should we offer the sample?”

Obviously, that depends on your business plan, and your ideal prospect profile.  We advocate the delivery of great, high impact samples, to highly defined homes/neighbourhoods (prior to going city wide or wider).  This assures higher redemption rates and lower marketing costs.

“How should we deliver the sample?”

While there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ delivery, we advocate for being as personalized as possible.  If you can deliver your sample to the door (or directly to your prospect’s hand) – do so, it’s better than an anonymous digital ad, and better than a mailed-flyer.

“If I’m stuck for inspiration, what should I do?”

Walk the aisles at Costco, and just stand back and watch the sampling process in action.  Note the item on offer, who is offering it, the location of the sampling station, the traffic flow around the station, the take-up rate of the sample, and note the number of people who later in the store actually buy the product being sampled.

Let’s talk:



3 Big Small Business Challenges

Fitness Studio

I was driving home today while listening to the local traffic-specialist radio station.

They interviewed a local fitness studio owner who was incredibly, courageously candid about her situation:

  1. fewer customers
  2. tough to restart the business after lockdowns
  3. customers aren’t spending as much

None of these will be a surprise to any small business owner, but it’s still tough to hear.

If you find yourself in this situation, we can help by:

  • developing new markets (yes, we can even do it for fitness studios)
  • developing new services (yes, even fitness studios have more potential than exists just within their walls)
  • developing new revenue streams
  • providing financing
  • helping you take some pressure off by restructuring your financing

If you, or anyone you know is experiencing the ‘big 3’ challenges facing small businesses – we should talk.

Contact us here:

Strategies for Uncertain Times

Strategies for Uncertain Times

There’s no doubt that we’re in uncertain times:

  • Inflation is up, but it seems to be declining
  • Unemployment is down, but layoffs in certain sectors are increasing
  • Demand is up, but supply chains can’t keep up
  • Small business is ‘critical to the economy’, yet 45% of online sales are dominated by Walmart, Costco, and Amazon
  • Stock markets are recently up, but are way down YTD

So what’s the best strategy for a small business to maintain sanity – and prosperity – going forward?

There are 2:

  1. Drive out all risk from your business: reduce your debt, don’t take on more, defer capital purchases, conserve cash, optimize every aspect of your operation
  2. Look at your markets differently: who are you serving and why? Is there another market that you could serve that is nearby, or accessible digitally, that would be interested in your product or service? Find a way to reach them.

We’re happy to speak with you about any of these issues, to make your business more profitable – quickly.

Pivoting to a New Market

pivoting to a new market

I walked into a small business (a restaurant) near my home yesterday, and was saddened to see that I was the only one there.

While the restaurant may have been going gangbusters during lunch – it kinda had the vibe that they hadn’t really seen a customer in a while.

I asked the owner about their specialties – and ordered one as I enjoyed an early-afternoon coffee.  The owner and I chatted more, and it was just a few minutes before the ‘business is slow’-laments came.

We talked about the loss of traffic, then the shrinkage of average spend, followed by more loss of traffic, followed by missing their rent last month, followed by a piling-up of bills.

They’re drowning.

Yet, the restaurant is bright, cheerful, and the food is good.  What can they do if their relied-upon foot traffic has tailed-off, and shows little signs of life?

Pivot to a new market.

The idea of pivoting to a new market is pretty simple: take your core strengths, and find ways to leverage them to benefit new buyers.

The core strengths of restaurants are (in no particular order):

  1. They have a production facility (kitchen)
  2. They have some degree of market awareness (former customers, passers-by,  etc).
  3. There is some demand for their product (in this case, food) in other sectors and by certain user-groups (eg: providing coffee and catering services to local offices)
  4. There is demand by a bulk-buyer of product for at least one item that they have a unique control over the quality process, and can meet (at least in theory) any level of demand from their existing plant (eg: restaurants can look to commoditize the production of a single item – a specialty sauce for example – and make it available for sale by high volume food retailers, high volume fast food retailers, etc.)

Thinking about a pivot?

Let’s talk!


Five Questions About Your Customers

Think again about your clients

In this era of rising interest rates and high inflation, it’s important for small businesses to pause periodically and think about your customers.

In very real terms, your customer’s income is being eroded.

  1. How are your customers faring?
  2. Are they buying less?
  3. Are there signs that they might buy less?
  4. How will this affect your sales plan, and what can you do about it?
  5. How does this affect your cash flow forecast? Do you have mitigation plans?

Contact us if you’d like to speak about any issue related to cash flow.


Marketing plan challenger

Does the target business have a high performance marketing plan?

Is it capable of delivering the strategic objectives – particularly your sales goals – that the acquisition will require?

Get a sense of the effectiveness of the business’ current Marketing Plan to power market-growth goals, and start putting the pieces together for a post-acquisition marketing plan that fills these gaps:



Understand your market leverage

Strategies for Uncertain Times

The positive elements are substantial: a forced reflection on each of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats is clearly valuable.

…the challenge arises in what to do with the information. For example:

  • do we deploy our strengths to offset our weakness?
  • do we deploy our strengths to defend against threats?
  • …or, do we deploy our strengths to maximize our opportunities?

The answer of course, is ‘all of the above’, and ideally, only after management is satisfied that a detailed reflection of each element of the SWOT analysis has been completed.

Because our focus is on selling (more) – we are biased toward the exploitation of opportunities.  This tool helps you record your top-5 Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, and presents you with a prioritized list of your market leverage (your strengths + opportunities), to focus your communications, and market development activities, so that you can sell, more:

Do you know the market share?

determine market share

While market share can be a tough thing to discover, it’s a really useful tool in strategic market planning.  Knowing, or at least estimating market share will provoke meaningful discussions around:

  • Pricing
  • Direct sales/conversions
  • Advertising strategy
  • Social media strategy
  • Service quality

Get started by estimating your market share by using this tool, and tracking changes over time:

Calculating market preference

Calculating market preference

Service businesses in particular can have a tough time getting a grip on the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.

This is a useful tool both in planning and in optimizing the business: