The Pumpkin Plan and Daring to be Different

The other day, I did an introductory session with a prospect. He told me he had already been down the street, to a gym about 800 meters away, and that their prices were cheaper. There, he’d only have to pay $275 for fundamentals and then $180 a month for classes.

He told me he liked our facility better and if I could match what down the street was doing, he’d sign up with us instead.

“You’re comparing apples to oranges. We’re not offering the same product,” I said.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“They offer group fundamentals and group classes—generic workouts. We are a coaching service. We provide one-on-one training and then a combination of group classes and private sessions with a consistent coach,” I explained.

I used to get stressed out when people would ask me to price match what the gym down the street was doing. I don’t anymore. While I certainly don’t sell 100 percent of the people who walk through the doors, what I do end up getting are the right people—the people who want a coach for life, who understand the value of one-on-one training, are willing to pay a premium for it, and who end up becoming clients for life (much better than having a revolving door of clients).

A big part of it was accepting and embracing BEING DIFFERENT.

This is one of the concepts in the book The Pumpkin Plan, written by the same author as Profit First—Mike Michalowicz.

He compares businesses to searching for a great pumpkin at the pumpkin patch. He wrote:

“There is something absolutely irresistible, something magnetic about being the extreme. Be it the strongest, or the fastest, or the most unique. The farmer with the most extraordinary pumpkin in the field wins. Every. Single. Time.

The same is true for entrepreneurs. Yet most entrepreneurs work their tails off, only to end up with small, ordinary, unremarkable pumpkins. Compared to the giant pumpkin, the companies these struggling entrepreneurs grow are insignificant, so insignificant that customers often don’t see them, or squash them, or leave them to rot in the fi eld without a second thought.

To grow a successful business your company must be irresistibly magnetic. The average lose and are left to rot. It’s the most unique— the best—who win.

You’re probably thinking, “Duh! Do you really think I’m working my ass off to build an average company? What more do I have to do to be the best?”

Simple. You don’t need to do more. You need to do different. You have to pretend you’re a pumpkin farmer.”

At first it might be scary to dare to be different, to make changes to your business, to raise your prices to be more expensive than the gym down the street, to switch from group fundamentals to one-on-one private training.

Michalowicz addresses this in his book: “Plant hearty seeds, identify the most promising pumpkins, kill off the rest of the vine, and nurture only the pumpkins with the biggest potential,” he wrote.

This certainly has been the case for me. I don’t waste my time with clients that aren’t a good fit anymore. I choose the ones with the most promise to succeed in our business, not in the gym down the street.

For the record, that price shopper who came in asking me to match prices with the gym down the street: He paid $875 that day for one-on-one training with me.

Dare to be different. It just might pay off!

I’ll leave you with this excerpt from Michalowicz book:

“You didn’t start your business because you wanted to blend in, make enough to get by and save enough to pay for the nursing home. You went into business because you wanted to grow something amazing, something that would dramatically change the quality of your life, something that could make a difference in the world.” 

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