How To Make More Money

aka Why Are Some Things So Expensive?

Have you ever wondered why some things are so expensive and other things are so cheap?  This is something I look at all the time.  Deciding what price to charge is a very difficult task for any business owner.  What is the competition? What do they charge?  Why should we charge more or less?  All of this comes into play.

Working with a bakery offers a great example of how something that looks the same can have a hugely different price.  Do you think a $12 cupcake is expensive?  How about a four pack of cupcakes for $3.99?  A six pack for $1.99?  

At then end of the day they are all just sweet bread with frosting aren’t they?  They can all be made better with ice cream, so why should I spend $12 a cupcake at one store when I can get six for $1.99 at the local warehouse center?

What Goes Into The Product Matters

What goes into the cupcakes makes a difference, and the shopping experience does too.  A big theme park near our offices, famous for a mouse really has $12 cupcakes and yes, I buy one on occasion.  There is also my clients bakery with a $6.00 cupcake which I buy a lot more often.  Sometimes I break down and get the $3.99 four pack but that is my bottom line.

Why?  I read the ingredients at each location except the place with the mouse family.  There I know I am paying for the experience and just suck it up.  My clients six dollar cupcakes have just five or six ingredients.  The gluten free version has eight.  More importantly I can pronounce and buy all eight of the ingredients without a chemistry degree.

I once read the list of twenty plus ingredients on the cupcakes at the local supermarket.  I have no idea what is in them after wheat and sugar.

Convenience Matters

In Europe Bakeries dot every little village.  The village buys just about all of the bread from the local baker.  We don’t do that any more in the United States.  I don’t know why, but we seem to think we can save a buck at the local grocery store so we go there.

In Huntington Beach California we still have a small dairy, a real meat only butcher shop and a couple of small bakeries that make bread fresh daily.  My wife doesn’t like to stop at four shops because it isn’t “convenient”.  I’ll do it to support the local small businesses.  Whole Foods won’t even know I wasn’t there.

We also have four cupcake shops within four miles of our house.  If we forget dessert for a party, we’ll run to the closest one, pay $4-6 per cupcake and load up simply because it is convenient and rarely do we have to wait.

Selection Matters

For many businesses, the cost of a wide selection of products becomes prohibitive.  When I ran the Home Theater Stores and Home Technology Centers, I almost bankrupted the place trying to carry everything.  The inventory, staff training, service support and sales goals eventually became completely unmanageable.

Eventually I partnered with a competitor and we tested out some “packages”.  We narrowed it down to three items per category.  Basically a good, better, best.  Yes we would lose a few people who demanded a certain brand of the week they saw on TV or in a magazine.  Once I realized those were not my clients, I could breath and actually find the people that were my clients.

The things you choose to sell or services you choose to offer will narrow or widen your market.  Going to wide without very deep pockets normally isn’t possible.  With a bakery, gluten free in California is almost a given, but how much?  Most stores have two or three flavors and they rotate them to add variety.  The supermarket has one flavor occasionally.  Convenience also matters in selection.

Cake Tahoe Cupcakes

The Experience Matters

The last component sets the price in stone and that is the experience.  The least experiential way to buy a cupcake is in a box of 24 at the local super warehouse.  The most experience heavy way to buy is either a very unique bakery with coffee and bistro tables or of course that theme park hosted by the famous mouse. 

You might be thinking that you don’t have a way to make everyday objects more expensive, but you do.  Look at Candlesticks at the local discount home store like Home Goods, Tuesday Mornings or even Big Lots.  Then go look at the candlesticks at Tiffany, Waterford and Baccarat.

Baccarat has long been a favorite in our house, and most people can’t tell the difference.  Recently the high end crystal candlesticks on our dining room table went back in the box.  The top of my dining room table now has a piece of wire with 8 glass cups and votive candles.  It is hand made by a local artist, and fits the room perfectly.  She took a piece of wire, and $8 worth of glass candle holders and turned it into a candleholder that out priced Tiffany and pushed into Baccarat territory.

Every business has a way to create a better customer experience and charge more for it.  The next time you wonder why things are so expensive, remember this list and ask yourself, “How can I charge more?”

Long Time – No Post?

Long Time – No Post? is a question I regularly send to clients.  Our marketing model depends on our customers having a constant influx of new content to their website.  Many try to save a couple hundred bucks a month by having someone in their office do the work.  If they go that route I usually advise them to read The Easy Guide To Online Marketing.  Content alone isn’t enough.

When posting to a blog, there usually needs to be keywords that the post targets so potential new clients can find you.  Somewhat random blogs like this don’t do anything to help find new clients, they mostly help you to stay in touch with existing clients.  Unless you have some type of expert or celebrity status that is.

One of the interesting shifts in the marketing world is the expansion of the ability for people to become a celebrity.  YouTube, and the iPhone have made it possible to film a commercial in your store for free and get it online in minutes.  Will the commercial work?  Probably not.  The reality is that you can get a commercial that does work and get it in front of a lot of eyeballs for pennies per set of eyeballs.

When you consider that according to cbs, over 103 Million people watched the SuperBowl.  And that just the ad time alone ran up to 5 million dollars for Super Bowl 50. and creating those ads were $250,000 and up in production costs, you can figure out each viewer cost the advertiser

Some simple math says that each set of eyeballs was only 4.8 cents a piece. Given that a salesman trying to sell you a fax machine or health insurance might cost you $200 per click on Google, suddenly it is clear how Google makes so much money and why advertisers go with such high dollar commercials.

The reality is that neither method really is the perfect solution.  Neither of them filter out eyeballs that will never be your customer.  Advertise milk to lactose intolerant families and you still pay for it.  A salesman types in “Personal Injury attorney” and takes the top three ads and calls them because he knows they have a big spend for the cost to acquire new clients.

I know this because I just scrubbed a clients account.  Our competitor charged him $2000 per month for 54 “leads” per month.  When I scrubbed the “leads” I found multiple calls from the same company selling something.  About one out of five calls were a real person who might be considered a “potential new client”.  Guess what, right back to $200 per new customer acquisition.

Is it really that expensive to get someone to buy your product?  The answer is yes and no.  It all depends on you and how you market your business.

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What is Being an Actor Really Like?

Being an actor is a funny life.  We all think of actors as rich glamorous people that we see on TMZ or the cover of People.  The truth is all actors start out a little differently.  Some actors go to fabulous schools and get fantastic theater training and end up on a TV Drama.  Others move to LA to fail as background actors.

“Actors have dreams – dreams of money” – Unknown.

I won’t name names but working as a “background actor” aka “extra” has put me in the same room with some great A-list actors.  Access even TMZ can’t get.  Once I didn’t do my homework and told a Vegan A-list actress to get a cobb salad for lunch.  She still recommended that I come back.  When you work hard actors respect each other regardless of their race, religion or diet.  A lesson many people could use.

For them being an actor is very different than being an actor is for me.  Some hard truth?  There are over 70,000 Union actors just in Los Angeles.  Less than 4% make the required minimum each year to get union benefits.  I am one of the 96% that barely makes any notable income as an actor.  So why do they (we) do it?

The real truth is that being an actor is an addiction. Once you try it, you get the bug or you don’t.  When I took my wife to Central Casting to sign up as a background actor, we both got lucky and landed a non-union job together.  The pay was a whopping $80 for 8 hours.  Basically minimum wage.  For two people who make a lot more money you would think we would see the check and say “hell no”.

We didn’t.  Instead she was hooked.  The memories of being a kid on Romper Room, ABC Junior All Stars and some extra work hit me like a recovering addict stopping at the crack bar.  This time I was old enough to understand that I can keep coming back I could choose to stay addicted and my parents couldn’t stop me.

You just can’t walk away from being an actor if the bug bites you.  In my business, I am an actor.  I just didn’t realize it until my first day back at Paramount Studios after nearly 40 years away.  Every day I have to put on a show for my clients.  You are probably more of an actor than you think.  Some of my favorite clients are lawyers.  They are among the best actors I know.

Some of my actor friends are nearly homeless.  The addiction has a complete hold on them.  I am lucky that I have a good income that keeps a roof over my head while I continue to seek acting work.  Some of my actor friends tell me that being a background actor will prevent me from ever moving ahead.  I find this interesting since some of the biggest names started out at Central Casting as background actors.  More importantly I don’t care.  I just like the work and the challenge.  Acting is never the same thing twice.

I have no delusions of grandeur that I am the next John Wayne or Ronald Reagan, but I do enjoy acting work in all forms.  As a background actor, I am still on set.  I get to meet writers, directors and those actors who are living very well and enjoying the spotlight.  Being an actor is different for everyone, and for me it is about the constant challenge.  One day I have to drive a car around the block without blocking the camera, another day I have to get to the bar right when Mr. A-list orders a beer.  On the best days I am the cop, news reporter or doctor that delivers the good (or bad) news.

Some of the best “background work” has been standing in for the A-list actors.  One one movie, I was a stand in for an a-lister and was coached by his manager for 6 weeks straight.  You can’t buy that education.  I know because I tried to hire the manager afterwards and he wasn’t taking on new clients.

Scott and Kelly Bourquin On Set.

Being an actor has allowed me to go into places in Los Angeles that I would never have seen any other way.  It also let me do things I would have never done any other way.  I get to be the crying dad when my son is killed.  I get to be the total jackass to someone I find very nice.  I get to pop off to my “boss”.  Being an actor lets me be everything my parents told me not to be.  It lets me be the person the military washed out of my brain.

Clients wonder why I do it, when they are paying me good money to help them grow their business.  The reality is that I learn more working with Emmy award winning directors and actors than I ever learned in business school.  The videos I make for my clients shoot right to the top of the search engines.  People start calling my clients because of what I learn on set, not business school.

Isn’t that what being an actor is about?  Connecting to people is what actors must do to sell the story.  Connecting a story to people is what every business wants.

The typical actor job is waiter or waitress.  Why?  Simply put the skills are very similar.  A great waitperson can take the order of an entire table without taking notes.  Sounds like memorizing lines quickly doesn’t it?

Being an actor isn’t for everyone.  It takes time, work and sacrifice.  While my clients go home after hours, I go to acting class.  When they are home with their families, I am studying monologues.  When I go to work as a background actor, I take home less than I make in an hour at my business, and yet I still hope to get the call.

As a “principle” actor my “day rate” is still less than a third of what I make at my “day job” and yet, I go to audition after audition for free on my time hoping to land a job that pays less than I make at work.

Watching new background actors is an incredible lesson on success.  Put earbuds in, get paid for the day and ignore the director,  no job tomorrow.  Get to work 20 minutes early, pay attention and volunteer for everything and get called back.

Being an actor sounds like life doesn’t it?

The Age Of Deception

Are we living in the Age of Deception?, Author James Dale Davidson seems to think so.  If you ever wondered why neither party seems to get it right, maybe you are being deceived?

While there are a couple of ideas in the book about the balance of capital I am not sure about, Mr. Davidson does a nice job explaining Government finance in a way that most people with a high school education can understand.

If you are frustrated by protests about issues that make no sense put on using paid protestors, The Age of Deception may be an enlightening read for you.  The bureaucrats are going keep spending until you run out of money.

Social programs are being cut, and people can’t figure out why, The Age of Deception tells you why. Instead of discussing government programs and finance from soundbites on TV, maybe it’s time to gain an understanding about living in the Age of Deception.


New Kühl Toys Video Up

Today we had some technical issues and the new segment of Kühl Toys is up a little late.  If you are considering the Amazon Echo, which we call “Alexa”, take a quick peek at the video at Kü to see what we found.

We also had a headlight start to fail from the first segment, and the manufacturer is saying since we didn’t buy it directly from them it isn’t under warranty.

Back to the drawing board on that one!

Kühl Toys – Can One Help You Sleep Better?

This week on Kü, I compared two models of the Jawbone Up, a fitbit model and a smart watch.  Why?

Well, like many of you I am sure, I woke up one morning during the new year and finally got the courage to step onto a scale.  The damage?  Twelve pounds.  The weather has been bad so I haven’t been running or surfing as much, and I have been spending a lot more time in traffic and in studios.  Not a good formula for keeping the weight off.

Two years ago when Dr. Goldberg and I made a small wager on who could lose twenty pounds the fastest, I grabbed a Jawbone Up24 and used it to track running distance and calories.

I discovered the Jawbone Up24 had a side talent of being able to help me power nap, and for anyone in todays world a proper power nap can be the key to a successful day.

When my Jawbone Up 24 button died, I picked up the Up3 and my wife chose a fitbit model, thus began the challenge.

You can see the results on Kü

Success On The Beach – WhiteBoard Method

The whiteboard method is the tool I use to find clarity when it comes to my life and my business.

Everytime something goes good or bad or I feel like I need a change, a whiteboard comes out.

If you have a family or live with someone, the whiteboard method helps you identify potential conflicts and opens that discussion.

For instance when my wife and I were living in our last home, it was a great house, in a great location but something was missing.

We pulled out a white board and each wrote a list of “wants” in one column, and a list of “don’t wants” in another.

Defining both the wants and dont wants is critical.

One of my wife’s don’t wants was “humidity”. We were living in Houston at the time.

Since I didn’t want Humidity, it was easy for me to support her want.

One of my wants was a three car garage. She didn’t care, so she could support my want.

When we bought our current house, we achieved 19 of the 23 wants, and only one “don’t want” came with the house.

We agreed to revisit the list in three years.

After 5 years, we started the whole process over, and discovered that we had since altered our wants

The beach lifestyle changed how we lived and entertained so it turned out that two of our wants were no longer important

Also we found a couple of new wants and don’t wants.

In just eight weeks, the contractors are starting work to add all but one remaining want, and fix our three don’t wants.

We have now lived in this house longer than any other house we have owned.

By using the whiteboard method we worked together to find the house we wanted in the place we wanted.

For years I have been coaching people using the whiteboard method to help them find better jobs, build better businesses and eventually find their own success and define their own beach.

Now that you have a quick peek at the white board method, give it a try next time you think you need to make a big change and let me know how it helps you.

Thank you for watching, and of course, please come back for more tips for achieving your Success on the Beach.

Success On The Beach – Introduction

Success on the Beach was created after working with hundreds of different people just like you.

Everyone had a different idea of success

Everyone had a different place of success

The best thing that ever happened for my life and my business, was sitting down and defining what I called success.  I did that with the “White Board Method”.  Look for an episode about that soon.

The next step was to sit down with my family and let them know what I was going to do in order to achieve that success.

Clearly defining what it would take and what I would give up helps everyone support me in my journey

My beach is literally the beach. For me success meant the flexibility to live at the beach and surf at least 8 days a month.

For some people it might be skiing, or hiking, but inside all of us is our own version of success on the beach.

One caution here, success isn’t a single thing you can grab onto, it is a place for you to go.

An attorney once said to me “All I want is that one big case”

After he got it, and won it, what do you think happened?

He realized the case itself was only a rest stop on his journey to success.

Since then he has redefined his journey

In each episode I’ll cover one topic to help you define success or help you find your own beach,

Occasionally I’ll bring in another guest or talk about how to get your family and friends on board to support your journey.

Thank you for watching, and if there is something you want to talk please leave a comment.

You will be surprised how many other people want to know the answer too.

Don’t worry there is enough for everyone to find their own success on the beach.

Success On The Beach – Giving

This week I found a article in inc. magazine and tweeted it out. The premise was that money can buy happiness.

When I read the headline of the article, it reminded me of a comedian who said

Whoever said money can’t buy happiness is an idiot, I ain’t never seen anyone crying on a jet-ski!

If you read the article, you know the idea, but for everyone else, here are the

I don’t have enough time for all of this stuff highlights, and some ideas for you to leverage that information.

The authors contend that buying things gives us a short term pleasure but GIVING things gives us a longer term pleasure.

The premise is that when you have money to buy things and give them to other people, you are happier. Therefore the authors say that money can in fact buy happiness.

But do you need money to buy happiness? We all know the lack of money can cause a lot of stress, especially when it comes to small business owners and independent people like you.

A lack of money just means you can’t buy gifts, it doesn’t mean you can’t give gifts.

While you are starting your business, or expanding your horizons at your work acting like an independent contractor, money might feel tight, so how can you give so you can still make people happy.

In fact when you give someone more than they are paying for in your business, you might just be giving them the gift they needed. If you aren’t happier when you get paid for your work, and the people paying you aren’t happy, maybe it is time to find different work?

You can also volunteer, and I already hear you that you are already out of time, but I’m telling you, find a couple of hours a month to volunteer and it will pay dividends in your long term success.

So can money buy happiness? Maybe, can giving help you be happier probably.

Does being broke suck? absolutley!

Come back next time and spend a few minutes growing your life, your business and ultimately your happiness.