The Myth of Low Cost Doula Support

Low Cost Doula Support

I find it totally strange that there are so many childbirth professionals who get personally offended that peers in their market offer support to clients at rates lower than their own. There is this idea that as service providers they deserve to charge the rates they need regardless of what the market wants or needs. As if their customers will pay them more because they need to make more to cover their monthly budget! This idea goes against the very nature of the market economy in which we function.

Every Customer Has Value Regardless of What They Spend  

I know exactly what it is like to live in a state of just scraping by. I have felt the shame and liberty of charity. I was a single mom who could barely pay her bills and I have stood in line at the food bank to collect a box of food designated for those who have made what others considered “bad choices” in life. But guess what? This blog is not about charity.  It’s about a world that didn’t see me as an opportunity. A world that ignorantly didn’t see me as their target market and as such I shied away from service providers that I thought would be too expensive for me even when they weren’t. Was I scared and naïve? You bet I was! But I was also a diamond in the rough who was looking for people of integrity who were willing to invest in me as a way of gaining trust and loyalty.

Seriously, there was a time when I refused to acknowledge an issue with my car (that would have cost me no more than $150 to repair) so long that it ended up turning into a $1700 repair that could have cost me much more than money had it finally broke when I was driving down the interstate! This was a decision I made out of fear. You see, I didn’t need charity; I needed someone to inform me of my options and take the time to educate me. I needed for just once, someone to not treat me like I was wasting their time. Here's the deal: I was and am worth someone’s time. Just because I am in a more stable place in my life now doesn’t mean that I wasn’t a valuable customer then. The supplier I use for my vehicle maintenance now is the one who took the time to inform me of my options when I could barely scrape up that $1700 for the repair I needed. They were empathetic and kind. They took the time to teach me why I should not be scared to ask questions and seek advice from a professional. Did they lower their prices for me? No, but they found a way to help me get what I needed to get to work every day and figured how to get my repair costs down so I could make a long term plan. You know what? They really, truly helped me. Today, our family has spent over $15,000 with them and I refer them to everyone I know because they created REAL value for me when I didn’t have much to offer. The few hundred dollars they saved me and the time they spent back then has no doubt paid them back in massive dividends.

Being an American doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed a high wage. You have to be productive, and we have to create a very low-cost, efficient place to do business, and we’ve let all that slip in America.
— Michael Porter - Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School

Creating More Affordable Solutions will Broaden Your Customer Base and Expand Your Influence 

Here is the reality: I know that lowering the barrier of entry will get you more customers, increase your profits, and create a better customer experience. How exactly do I know this? Because learning this lesson and by incorporating this concept I sustainably increased my business by 400%. Using that exact strategy I have helped many other childbirth professionals do the exact same thing. I literally have a solution for every single potential customer and every price point. Why do I do this? Allow me to list the reasons:

  1. Nobody else is doing it. Yep that’s right. Very few doulas and childbirth educators in the market are meeting customers where they are and filling the needs they have. Most of my competitors have decided what customers want and need and are giving them what they want to give them.

  2. It’s a competitive advantage. Look, if you charge $900 for labor support services and I charge $100 for the same thing, you would be greatly mistaken if you thought you were making $800 more than I am. Why you ask? Well, because you don’t have any idea how my company makes money. Maybe your bread and butter (labor support services) is just an add-on package to me and the fact that you are so expensive makes it easier for me to get more people in the door to sell my more profitable packages too. Utilizing loss leaders is a very effective strategy to attract customers and meet your prospects right where they are. To be clear, doula support can come in a variety of shapes and colors. If someone wants in-person, continuous labor support from me, which requires me to be on-call 24 hours a day and potentially spend many hours away from my family, that will be pricier than my other doula support options. But not all families want that kind of doula support.

  3. My lower priced products have a higher conversion rate AND a higher profit point. Let me explain: if I sell Labor support services at $800, subtract expenses ($75), and I spend an average of 20 hours per client, I make $36.25 an hour. On the flip side if I sell a private childbirth education class at $250, minus expenses ($35), I make 53.75 an hour. If I sell a childbirth education manual at $50, minus expenses ($25), I make $25 flat with no time involved. As for higher conversion rates, I never have to turn away a client, and I never have to compete with childbirth professionals who don’t understand their customers. Therefore, I can convert 95% or more of my prospects into a paying customers who are far more likely to refer me because I created more value for them. Check out this article to better understand the psychology of pricing.

  4. Many customers who purchase lower cost products come back to buy additional services. That’s right, turning away customers who have less to spend (or want to spend less - don't confuse the two) means that you never got to spend time establishing a relationship and creating value through education, and in turn lost a ton of sales! That’s just bad business.
  5. This is what customers actually want. How would I know that? It's simple: I actually listened to my clients and created packages to support their desires! Before you just decide that your model is THE model, ask yourself how many times you have done a focus group with your previous clients and prospects. How many times have you done an exit interview with a client to define what went right, wrong, or what could be better? Making assumptions won’t grow your business; utilizing focus groups and personal interviews will.
  6. Simply raising prices is a bad business strategy. Here is the ridiculous theory: "I have 4 clients a month and I charge $600 so I make $2400 a month. If I raise my prices to $1200, I’ll make $4800 a month!" Here is the reality of implementing that strategy (if you can call it that): "I used to charge $600 and had 4 clients a month. When I raised my price to $1200, I stopped getting calls and started spending $400 a month on marketing. Now I am getting 1 or 2 clients a month and I am making less than $2000 a month." What’s the point? If you are going to simply raise prices without a strategy to add value and compete with lower cost suppliers you are setting yourself up to fail. If you supply the exact same service as another supplier and charge more simply because you believe you are “the best,” you are not adding value. What you're selling is a pipe dream. (Guess what. Everyone is the best - just ask them). Do I want you to increase your prices? Yes. I absolutely believe most doulas and childbirth educators need to raise their prices, but they need to do it strategically and add more value.
Treat [the customer] as guests when they come and when they go, whether or not they buy. Give them all that can be given fairly, on the principle that ‘to him that giveth shall be given’. Remember always that the recollection of quality remains long after the price is forgotten. Then your business will prosper by a natural process
— Harry Gordon Selfridge

quit telling people what they want!

Look, I didn’t wake up one day and think, "I want to be a childbirth educator!" I created Your Birth Experience because it became blatantly evident early on as a childbirth professional that I was not meeting my clients where they were. I also realized that every childbirth professional was already a childbirth educator but most of them simply didn’t realize it and didn’t prepare for it in any way. That’s right, every childbirth professional is at some point educating their clients on options, communication, and many other things, but it is usually done simply out of necessity and not with purpose! I wanted a way to give support to every expectant mother at a price they could afford and do it in a way that created a sustainable business. So I stopped taking advice from everyone who said they knew the “right way” of doing things and created something that gave my clients what they actually needed to get what they really wanted.

IT'S ABOUT THE CUSTOMER, NOT ABOUT YOU.

Here is the bottom line: I run a business not a non-profit community center. I don’t make decisions based on what my competitors think. I make decisions based on what my customers want. I am an entrepreneur; I love what I do and the people I serve. I believe that every potential customer has value and I believe I can give value to every single one of them.

My customers know that I need to make money, and they aren’t upset about that fact BUT the idea that I deserve something simply because I am a woman, or an American, or a business owner is ridiculous. I deserve what my customers think I deserve and it’s my job to prove them right. I have a business that runs like a business so my clients get the best possible product and service I can give them and I have a system that allows me to seamlessly accomplish that with purpose and precision every single time. 

Do you want more information on creating value for your customers with Your Birth Experience? Contact me with the link below to get started!