Monthly Archives: October 2013

Should Customers Have To Pay Extra For Good Service?

As of today Amazon has raised the amount you must spend in order to get free shipping from $25.00 to $35.00.  Although this is the first time the required purchase amount for free shipping from Amazon has gone up in the past ten years, the reason behind the increase has nothing to do with the rise in shipping costs.

The plain truth is that Amazon wants its customers to join their Amazon Prime members program.  Members pay an annual fee of $79.00.  In return they receive two day free shipping, no minimum order size, unlimited instant streaming of thousands of movies and tv shows, and one Kindle book per month – given on loan – from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.

My question for you is this:  Do you think Amazon’s new purchase requirement hike will work in getting more people to purchase the Amazon Prime membership?

Personally, I purchase many books as well as other merchandise from Amazon.  Years ago, when I first became a customer and Amazon had no membership program, I could place an order with Amazon and receive it within about a week.  I was impressed at the time with how quickly Amazon would process my order and get it shipped.

All that changed when they instituted their new membership program.  One day I placed an order and it was shipped promptly.  The next time I placed an order it took them them nearly two weeks to ship it out the door – and this was an order they had in stock!  They didn’t ship it until the delivery date was just a couple days away and I knew why.  They wanted to coerce their customers to buy the new membership program.

Sure, I could still get free shipping, but there was no longer any concern for getting my order out the door in a hurry, nor even within a reasonable amount of time – say 48 hours, and by today’s standards that’s very generous.  In short, Amazon no longer impressed me.  In fact, they now irritated me.  They wanted me to pay for something I had been getting previously and felt I deserved – good service.  

So, you can imagine how I feel about this latest tactic, and I’m betting I’m not alone.  I don’t use instant streaming, don’t own a kindle (though I do have a desktop Kindle reader which I was able to download from Amazon for free – however I rarely remember to finish books I start reading there!), and I don’t care about free two day shipping (which really isn’t free because you’re paying for a membership in order to receive it) since once my items are shipped I usually receive them within just a few days anyway.

In comparison, Zappos gives me free two day shipping and stellar service and they don’t charge me a membership fee to receive it.  In fact, when they didn’t have an item in stock that I wanted to order, they upgraded my “membership”  to preferred status for free – for life!

Now, as anyone who has ever shopped at Zappos can tell you, they hike up their prices quite a bit to make up the difference for this.  They’re not really giving you anything.  But, if you do some comparison shopping – and most people do – then you know this going in.  And because Zappos gives such fabulous service I don’t mind paying extra.  It’s not being required of me.  There’s no double standard.  I can buy their items or I can shop elsewhere, but if I shop with Zappos I can expect my items to arrive the following day.  Period.

All that said, I will continue to shop with Amazon, though they won’t be my first choice.  I will seek out other options and only purchase from Amazon when I can’t find an item elsewhere.  And then, if it isn’t urgent, I’ll place that item in my shopping cart and let it sit until I have enough items to add to receive the free shipping.

For me it’s the principle of it.  I could pay a few dollars and get my single item now if it doesn’t meet the purchasing requirement for the free shipping.  I could even purchase an Amazon Prime membership – most of which would be useless to me – in order to receive better service.  But I won’t because I feel that I’m entitled to good service simply for choosing Amazon in the first place.  In today’s world there’s too much competition, too many other places for a customer to shop, and too many other alternatives available for any company to take customers for granted or offer less than their best.

It will be interesting to see how Amazon’s other customers feel in the coming months.  If they haven’t already jumped on Amazon’s Prime membership bandwagon, there is a reason and trying to force them to join isn’t going to solve that problem.

Anyone with any kind of business can learn from this, but it is especially relevant to those of us in publishing – booklets or otherwise – because we so often deal with customers via the internet and it’s easy to take those customers for granted.  Don’t do it.  Always, always, always give your best.  Doing business with you should be more than a pleasure.  It should be such a wonderful experience that people can’t help talking about it.

What are your thoughts?

To your riches!

Kim Hillman

PS:  Have you heard about my free ecourse, “12 Ways A Booklet Can Turn Your Writing Into Cash!”  Get it here now!

Get my ebook, “Publish Outside The Box” here!

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The Way To Success Is Paved With….Frustration???

Today is Monday, the start of a new week, and I’m already so frustrated with a new project I can hardly see straight!

A Google search tells me that frustration is simply poorly expressed anger.  Am I mad?  Yeah!  I’m mad!  But why?  What’s it really all about?

Usually we get angry about situations we cannot change or that we have little to no control over.  For example, you’re supposed to meet with someone and they don’t show up on time.  As each minute ticks by – turning to five, then ten, then fifteen minutes late – you’re emotions will become more intense in a variety of ways depending upon who it is you’re meeting.  If it’s a teenage son or daughter, you’re angry for just a few minutes.  Why can’t they be more responsible?  But, it doesn’t take long for worry to settle in, especially if you’re the mother!

But, if the person you’re waiting for is someone you’re paying to show up – a private contractor or employee – you’re reaction will be quite different.   Chances are you won’t become worried about them.  You’re anger will only grow with each passing minute that they don’t show up and don’t call to at least let you know where they are.

Your booklet adventure will come with a host of different frustrations at various times.  Sometimes it’s a money issue.  Other times it’s having to depend on someone to do something for you – and that person doesn’t do the work the way you want it done or on time.  And still other times it may be a deal you thought you had worked out, only to have the person on the other end change something or back out all together.  It happens.  The question is how will you deal with it when it does?

For myself, if it’s a situation that I can’t change at the moment (most things in business can or will be changed at some point!) then I’ll move on to another area and come back to it at a later time.  I’m still frustrated with it, but working on something else helps me to put things in perspective and focus on something positive.  On any given day, there is always going to be something going right even if something else is going terribly wrong.   All it takes is one victory in any area of my business and I’ve got a smile on my face again!

How about you?  How do you deal with frustration?

To your riches!

Kim Hillman

PS:  Have you signed up for my free ecourse – 12 Ways A Booklet Can Turn Your Writing Into Cash!  

And you can get my ebook, “Publish Outside The Box” here.

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Why Starting Small Is Often The Wisest Thing You Can Do

Booklets.  They’re not a new phenomenon.  They’ve been around for a long time. You purchase a new blender.  It comes with a booklet that explains how to use it and contains a few recipes in the back.  Or, you purchase a new stereo and you receive a booklet telling you how to set it up and trouble shoot.  Booklets of this kind have been included with purchases for many years.

And then there are government booklets of every type you can think of – from how to apply for financial aid for college to how to become a US citizen.  Most, if not all, of these can now be found online as well as in printed form.

But, booklets within the publishing world – as in authors creating them and publishing them for the purpose of selling them to their own audience – is virtually unheard of.  What aspiring writer hopes to become the author of a booklet?  Isn’t it every writer’s dream to become the author of the next great American novel?  Doesn’t every writer hope to get on the New York Times best sellers list?

Only a tiny handful of authors will ever become famous for writing a great novel. A few more will make the best sellers list but the fame and glory (and money!) from it won’t last – leaving these authors to try and do it all over again.  Consider J.K. Rowling.  While she’s certainly had great success with her Harry Potter series, I can’t help but wonder about the kind of pressure she has been under to continue creating that kind of momentum.  Does she worry about her next title being a flop?  What if the public suddenly decides they like something else?

As outside witnesses to her fame, we see her success.  But, success is never easy. It comes only after hard work and usually a fair amount of stress.

And so it is with booklets too.  Success won’t be overnight.  And it won’t be easy. Writing booklets is no more for the couch potato than is writing the next Gone With The Wind.  Writing booklets takes less time, and you can make money faster than you can with a book, but it isn’t easy.  There is still work to do.  The one who is ready to dig in their heals and do what must be done is the one who will make it.  Wimps need not apply.

But, faster money aside, there is another advantage to booklets – the advantage of being able to start small.  If you’ve ever been overwhelmed by the process of writing a book and getting it published (published via any means available), chances are you will welcome the opportunity to downsize to a booklet.  Starting small is often a much wiser proposition.  It allows you to test your audience, your market place, before creating a larger and more costly product.  It allows to you start where you are and grow from there.

When you write a booklet you’re not just creating a smaller publication.  And you’re not just saving yourself time and money.  And you’re not just making things happen faster for yourself.  You’re also giving yourself the time you need to mentally process what you’re doing and where you want to go.  You’re allowing yourself time to plan, and then you can see where that plan will take you.  You can start with just one booklet and use it to build your audience.  From there you may decide to create more booklets, or you may decide to branch out in other areas – from full length books to speaking to a range of products and services in between.

There’s nothing wrong with starting small.  Often it is the wisest thing you can do.  Large corporations will often test a new product or service in a small area before going national with it.  Movies are usually viewed at film festivals first, before going into a handful of small, independently owned theatres, and from there to theatres nationwide.  We see it over and over again – new products introduced slowly and/or in small quantities, or in some cases only for a limited time.  And when these new offerings are snapped up or rejected by the market place, the sellers of these items are behind the scenes taking notes, making plans to reintroduce the offering at a later time as well as related products and services.

Booklets are small, but they are a beginning to something big.  What that something will be is up to you.

To your riches!

Kim Hillman

PS:  For more information on how you can make money with booklets, check out my FREE ecourse, “12 Ways A Booklet Can Turn Your Writing Into Cash”.

My ebook “Publish Outside The Box” is available here.

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