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Today, I'm going to talk about a concept I learned during the days when I did hand-lettering.

Quick background: When I was in university, I ran a business selling hand-lettered notebooks. Basically, customers will choose words to be drawn on the cover of a notebook (that I stock) in one of the six styles I offer.

Here's an example:

(This is from my old personal account, not my business account. When I decided to quit, I deleted the business account. Stupidest decision I ever made.)

(This is from my old personal account, not my business account. When I decided to quit, I deleted the business account. Stupidest decision I ever made.)

So during those days, I dealt with a lot of customers. I'd say the ratio is 40:60, with 60 being difficult customers that stressed me out a lot.

That's not surprising at all. Because I failed to brand my business, it attracted a lot of customers who were NOT ideal customers.

And when that happens, the money that I earned was *bad*.

 

"There's good money, and there's *bad* money."

Money is money right? How can it be BAD? Hooo boy. Let me tell you how.

Hand-lettering is a type of art. It involves designing how you want the alphabets of the word to be arranged and actually drawing each alphabet onto the paper (or notebook, in my case).

So basically -- drawing. Not using a font and printing the word out.

Customer A places an order. Someone who appreciates lettering and typography or maybe art in general.

Customer A makes chooses the style she wants, tells me the words (maximum of 3) and pays me RM25.

  • Duration of transaction with Customer A: 15 minutes.
  • Overall mood: Happy (yay someone gave me money!)

Customer B places an order. Someone who doesn't appreciate the fact that I actually draw each alphabet.

Customer B gives me a photo ("Can you copy this exactly?"), wants me to draw 5 words instead of 3 and pays late.

(Side note: When the customer pays late, I don't start drawing. I was burned once when I finished drawing 3 notebooks and the customer ghosted me. So the order is left hanging until the customer pays.)

  • Duration of transaction with Customer B: 48 hours
  • Overall mood: This is so not worth it.
 

Recap: Branding is about controlling how customers perceive or look at your business.

It's like dressing up your business like you dress up yourself.

But more importantly, branding is the PRIDE that you have in your business as a whole.

It makes you have the ability to say NO to difficult customers, instead of YES every single time because you want the money.

Which is better:

  • Customer A: RM25 from 15 minutes of pleasant transaction, OR
  • Customer B: RM25 from 48 hours of unreasonable requests and stress?

Customer A is the *better* money because I earned it much, much easier.

If I had taken the time to brand my business, I would have been able to attract more customers like Customer A. People who appreciated hand-lettering as art instead of people who just couldn't.

If I had taken the time to brand my business, I would have been able to say NO. Instead of thinking that I have to please every (potential) customer just for the money.

If you're planning to sell your product or service, consider these things:

+ Customers who negotiate a lot and make unreasonable requests are not the kind of customers you want. They don't appreciate what you sell or what you do. It's not a crime (or sin) to say NO to them.

+ You shouldn't aim to make *bad* money from these difficult customers. You'll feel less stressed and your business will be healthier if you focus on making *better* money from pleasant, fuss-free customers.

+ Branding your business should start with two basic questions. How would I describe my business? ~and~ What kind of people will appreciate my product or service? Be very specific with your answers. If your answers are vague, you won't be able to filter OUT those potentially-difficult-customers in the first place.

I'm not saying that difficult customers are bad people. They just don't appreciate what you're selling.

Think about it: You can be a difficult customer too!

I like to cheap out on home organization stuff and like to buy from Daiso. So if someone tries to sell me an expensive plastic container, I'd be asking 1001 skeptical questions.

BUT, I'm all about the luxury when it comes to stationeries. (RM10 for a pen? Yes. Put 10 in my cart please.)

So ya feeling me? If "ya feeling me", hit Reply and tell me when you're a difficult customer and when you're the kind of customer who says TAKE MUH MONEY. :)

 

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