Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The psychology of pricing and how your customers think.

Understanding how customers think and feel about prices can be a huge advantage when it comes to influencing buying decisions. Prices set too low can erode profits while prices set too high can scare customers away. So, how can you find the right balance? Here are some great insights on the psychology of pricing to help small businesses make their prices more appealing to customers

Compare At Your Own Risk
Asking customers to compare your product to a competitor’s may seem like a smart idea, especially if you offer a lower price point. But that strategy often can backfire. Consider, for example, a sign at your local drugstore encouraging customers to compare the price of the store's brand of aspirin to a national brand. But rather than choosing the cheapest product, customers may buy nothing or purchase the national brand because they perceive it as a less risky choice, according to a study by the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

It turns out consumers tend to put greater weight on the disadvantages of each choice rather than the advantages when they make comparisons. In two separate trials, researchers found that placing differently priced products together to encourage shoppers to make their own comparisons had positive results. In contrast, asking customers to make a comparison made them much more cautious and risk adverse. Small businesses need to understand that while comparative selling can be powerful, it’s not without risks.

Time vs. Money
A focus on selling time, or how a customer experiences a product, may get better results than a focus on price. For many customers, the concept of time can evoke a personal connection with a product, which typically leads to more favorable attitudes and purchasing decisions. In contrast, asking customers to think about the money they’re spending to purchase that product can create a more negative reaction.

Researchers did find one important exception: When social status is a driver for buying a product, such as designer jeans or a luxury car, focusing on money can actually help increase sales. The bottom line: It’s critical to first consider how consumers most identify with a product (through experience or possession) and then highlight either their time or money spent accordingly.

Drop The Dollar Sign
A study on how prices were presented on menus offers interesting insights for small businesses in any industry. Lunch customers at St. Andrew’s restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in New York were offered menus with three options: Prices listed with a dollar sign ($16.00), prices listed as numbers without a dollar sign (16), and prices that were written out (sixteen dollars). Guests given the numeral-only menu (16) spent significantly more than those who received the other menus, researchers found.

Other research highlights the power of 99 cents. Consumers tend to compare prices by looking at the left digits first, while often ignoring the digits on the right. So a price with a lower dollar amount that ends in 99 cents can lead to greater sales. There’s a reason we see .99 so frequently, and small businesses should consider doing the same; especially when price comparisons are important to sales.

Weigh The Anchoring Effect
Anchoring a product between similar items with higher and lower prices encourages value-minded customers to purchase the middle item as the “compromise choice”. In a study of subscription prices for The Economist, subscribers were offered web content for $59, print-only content for $125 or a combined print and web subscription for the same $125 price.

Logic says hardly anyone would pick the middle option when they could get print and web access for the exact same price. But when the middle option was taken away, more customers gravitated toward the cheapest option. In contrast, having the middle price point changed the decision process by making the combined web and print subscription seem like a better deal. Context is critical when setting prices.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

'Hashtag,' 'selfie,' and 'tweep' have officially been added to the dictionary.

Tech terms continue to wind their way into the dictionary.

"Hashtag," "selfie," and "tweep" are just three of the latest words recently added to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Merriam-Webster announced on Monday. The new words have already popped up in the online edition and will join the print version as well.

Other tech terms that are now part of the club include "crowdfunding," "big data," "gamification," and "steampunk."

Merriam-Webster has also added "catfish" to the list. In addition to describing the actual fish, "catfish" refers to a "person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes." The word came into play following a documentary and MTV TV series as well as the bizarre hoax perpetrated against football player Manti Te'o involving a nonexistent online girlfriend.

"So many of these new words show the impact of online connectivity to our lives and livelihoods," Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster, said in a statement. "Tweep, selfie, and hashtag refer to the ways we communicate and share as individuals. Words like crowdfunding, gamification, and big data show that the Internet has changed business in profound ways."

Source: Merriam-Webster

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Have an emergency? Text 911.

If there's ever a situation where you need to text a 911 operator instead of dialing the number directly, you're in luck. As of today, the country's four big carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, will officially route texts addressed to 911 to your local police.
This is a good thing - with more than 6 billion texts sent every day since 2012, being able to reach the police by typing rather than talking is a logical next step that could make a huge impact for people seeking help. But that doesn't mean you can, or even should, start texting your emergency instead of calling.

The first and most important point to understand is that although these four carriers have now enabled Text to 911 on their end, the have no say over whether your local police station implements it or not. Each emergency call center, or PSAP (public safety answering point), as it's known in the public safety sphere, has to decide how and when to allow Text to 911. Some already have, but others may take longer as they tackle a large set of issues that may include their size and financial resources.
Not only do these PSAPs have to buy or license the right tools to carry on conversations over text, they must also establish protocols for communicating with texters, and then train their dispatchers. All of this can take time, especially in the face of a few hurdles such as judging a message's context, routing issues, and delivery delay issues.

While the agencies involved with the Text to 911 program still urge you to call when you can and save texting as a final resort, there are right times to use it.

For instance, texting 911 gives Americans with speech and hearing impairments direct access to a 911 operator. And texting is practically the mother tongue of today's teens, who might feel more comfortable or more natural drafting an SMS before finding the dial screen.

There are also serious situations in which uttering a word would make the situation even more dangerous.

*Disclaimer: this service is not available everywhere. Consult your local authorities before texting 911.

Source: CNET

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Shocking news...your Snapchat pictures were never secure.

On Thursday, Snapchat settled charges with the Federal Trade Commission that it deceived customers on several levels. The app wasn't totally secure, and the company was secretly spying on its users.

But the company is essentially getting a slap on the wrist. It has to allow independent privacy auditors to inspect the company for the next 20 years, and it was forced to promise it will be more forthright with customers. That's about it.
The heart of the issue is Snapchat's assurance that customers' messages were safe and private. Snapchat's whole business was built on that promise.

For instance, Snapchat photos have a self-destruct timer. But recipients could get around the auto-destruct by saving an image of what was on the screen.

The company also had said it took appropriate security measures to keep the information safe. However, "disappearing" videos didn't actually vanish. They were stored, unencrypted, on phones. That meant anyone could just plug a device into a computer and play the files.

Snapchat was also quietly collecting information about its customers. The company promised it wouldn't track users, but it surreptitiously followed an Android phone's every move. It also uploaded entire contact lists from iPhones without letting a customer know.

That blew up in the company's face when hackers stole the contact information for 4.6 million Snapchat users and posted their usernames and partial phone numbers online.

"If a company markets privacy and security as key selling points in pitching its service to consumers, it is critical that it keep those promises," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement.
On Thursday, Snapchat admitted to making mistakes. The company said it updated its privacy policy, app description and notifications to users.

"While we were focused on building, some things didn't get the attention they could have. One of those was being more precise with how we communicated with the Snapchat community," the company said on its blog.

Source: CNN

Friday, May 9, 2014

Out of storage on your iPhone or iPad? Here's how to add more space cheaply.

Apple's devices infamously rely on fixed storage. If you need more space, well, too bad.

Granted, you can try a utility like PhoneClean, which can reclaim some space , but that gets you only so far. For any kind of significant storage boost, you have little choice but to upgrade to a more capacious iPhone, iPod, or iPad.

Unknowingly to many, you do have one other option. A growing number of devices give you extra space for music, movies, photos, documents, and other data, and some of them are surprisingly affordable. How? With wireless card readers (also known as media hubs), which connect via Wi-Fi to your devices. So instead of popping a microSD card inside your iPhone or iPad (which, of course, is impossible), you pop one into an external drive you can keep stowed in a bag, pocket, etc.

Suppose, for example, you're taking a long trip. You want to bring along your entire music library, not just the handful of playlists that fit on your 16GB iPhone 5, and enough movies to last you through two or more long flights.

With one of these readers, you can stock, say, a 32GB SD card with more than enough songs and videos, while still leaving space on your Mini for apps and other stuff. And several models support USB flash drives as well.

Here's how most of these devices work:
Step 1: Connect the reader to your PC, then fill it with any and all media/data you want to bring along.
Step 2: Install the companion app that goes with the reader.
Step 3: Run the app, then connect to the reader. Now you can stream your media, view your photos, access your documents, transfer files, and so on.

One key feature to look for when shopping for a wireless reader is a pass through option, which allows your device to stay connected to a Wi-Fi network while simultaneously connected to the reader. Otherwise it's a huge hassle to disconnect and reconnect all the time.

IES currently offers two products that will help you with your storage needs:

The Iogear MediaShair Hub sells for only $99.95. It is no larger than a deck of cards, looks like a miniature router, and can double as a mobile access point. The MediaShair accommodates both SD cards (or microSD with an adapter) and USB drives. It works quite well with iOS devices, even if its app is a little clunky to use and not great as a music player. You can even top off your iPhone's battery by plugging directly into the MediaShair's USB port.

Our other option is the RAVPower FileHub 5-in-1, which sells for $74.95 and includes a larger battery than the MediaShair. It offers both Wi-Fi hot-spot and NAS features, and works with both SD or microSD cards, and USB drives.

In an ideal world, Apple devices would have expansion slots. Why pay monthly for cloud storage when all you need is a $75-$100 card reader and some inexpensive memory cards / flash drives?

Interested? Find out more about these two products using the links below:

Monday, May 5, 2014

BREAKING: Internet Explorer patch update now available.

Last Monday we notified you about the security issue with all versions of  IE (Internet Explorer).

Here is the updated information you need to have:
1. Microsoft has issued patches to resolve the issue.
2. Microsoft has also issued a patch for XP Users.

What Can You Do?
1. If you use XP, Vista and Windows 7 it is a 3 stage fix.
    A. Go to and install the latest flash player.
        (Be sure to uncheck the box that includes additional free software).
    B. Go to and install the latest Shockwave.
    C. Go to your windows control panel and run Windows Update.

2. If you are running Windows 8, simply go to your windows control panel and run Windows Update to fix Internet Explorer.
We think that there will be more attempts at exploiting XP and we cannot guess what Microsoft may do next time. If you are still using XP we urge you to seriously consider updating.

Here is a quote directly from Microsoft:
“We have made the decision to issue a security update for Windows XP users,” writes Dustin C. Childs, group manager, response communications at Microsoft. “Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft, and we continue to encourage customers to migrate to a modern operating system, such as Windows 7 or 8.1. Additionally, customers are encouraged to upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer, IE 11.”
If you have a question please give us a call at 781-816-9437.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Own a business? Here's why a professional website will be the best investment your business has ever made.

Hello, and welcome to the 21st century - the era of technology. If you own a business and don't have a website, you are significantly missing out on acquiring new customers. If you own a business and have a cheap, template driven site (example: Intuit, Homestead, FatCow, GoDaddy Website Builder, etc.), you are still missing out.

Why? Nearly all consumers - 97% - now use online media to shop locally. (This includes searches from computers, laptops, or mobile phones). I think it's safe to say the Yellow Pages have officially died.

So how would a website help? Well, it's all about exposure and being found on Google. A simple, cheap website builder usually does not accomplish that. Not only does your website need to be aesthetically pleasing, but you need title tag optimization, descriptive tag optimization, image description optimization, keyword optimization, and a large amount of content. That simply cannot be done using a template builder.

And let's not forget about the tax advantages! Usually, websites are 100% tax deductible business expenses. After all, it is a marketing expense. *Legal disclaimer: I am not an accountant, please consult your tax advisor.

So if you're ready to pull the trigger on a professional website, give IES a call or shoot us an email! We look forward to helping you build your business.

IES, Inc.