EP 284: Pricing On A Sliding Scale With Corpus Ritual Founder Jennifer Patterson

In This Episode:

  • Why grief & trauma worker Jennifer Patterson prices a significant portion of her work using a sliding scale
  • How a sliding scale system increases accessibility to valuable healing work for people from disadvantaged and marginalized communities
  • Why Jennifer priorities clear & direct communication when it comes to how people find the right amount to pay
  • What she thinks about “charging what you’re worth” (hint: she’s not a fan)

People with power have used it violently against others throughout history.

We are being reminded of this right here, right now.

Before I get into today’s episode, I want to make sure that my position—and the position of my company—is clear. We condemn police brutality and state-sponsored violence. We believe Black lives matter. People took the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others unjustly.

To our Black listeners, I want to acknowledge your cumulative pain and thank you for the superhuman ways that you continue to show up.

To all of the indigenous people and people of color who listen, I want to acknowledge your cumulative pain as well. Thank you for continuing the work.

This show is all about learning about what’s working to run and grow a small business.

However, the question that feels most urgent right now is:

What works to end this violence, to end our systems of oppression, to end the continual trauma perpetrated against Black people and people of color?

The answer is… I don’t know. I’m listening to the people are working toward these ends though, so that I can do better work myself.

But I do know that just as power can be used for harm and violence, it can be used to make new culture. It can be used to set new standards. It can be used to create new systems that take the sanctity of all lives and the dignity of all work into account.

And I know that business owners have power.

We have the power to do things differently. We have the power to question how business has always been done. We have the power to question the leaders who encourage us to exploit others and ourselves in the name of success.

This month on What Works, we’re talking about money. Money is a tool for creating change—and it represents cog in the system that has been used to exclude, exploit, and dehumanize people for a very long time.

When we start to question our assumptions about money and its role in our business, we start to undo that system little by little.

Today, my guest is Jennifer Patterson. Jennifer is a grief and trauma worker and the founder of Corpus Ritual.

Jennifer operates a significant portion of her business on a sliding scale pricing system. She does this for all the reasons I just outlined. She sees pricing as a way to work towards economic justice and make valuable services available to everyone—especially people from marginalized communities that need it most.

We’ll get into exactly how this works in just a minute—but first, I wanted to share that money is not the only way we can create change through our businesses.

White supremacy and systems of oppression are at work in the default ways we operate throughout our businesses—marketing, sales, management, hiring, communication, and more. One resource that I’ve been sharing a lot over the last few months is an article titled White Supremacy Culture Characteristics by Tema Okun and Kenneth Jones. It is an incredibly clear outline of how we hurt each other through things that just seem so… normal–like perfectionism, urgency, either/or thinking, and fear of conflict.

Without intentionally making choices that reverse these cultural characteristics in our businesses, we’re likely to perpetuate the system.

If you’re a white business owner like me, I invite you to take the next step beyond speaking up, donating, and educating yourself to start dismantling the ways White Supremacy culture characteristics are built into how you do business just like I am.

I also recommend taking a listen to The Opt-In With Aurora & Kelly—and the interview they did with Dr. Amanda Kemp gets into how White Supremacy culture plays out in the workplace.

Now on to my conversation with Jennifer Patterson. Jennifer and I talk about how she made the decision to operate a large portion of her business on a sliding scale, the role educating her clients plays in making her pricing system work, why she doesn’t believe in charging what you’re worth, and how she manages the money coming in and out of her business.

Finally, this episode was recorded recently—but before the murder of George Floyd and the protests in response. It’s very relevant to how we can take action as business owners but doesn’t address this crisis specifically.

Let’s find out what works for Jennifer Patterson!

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By Tara McMullin

Writer, Podcaster, Producer. Founder of What Works.

Jun 9, 2020

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EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

This week, I’ve got 4 more stories to share with you from small business owners who have intentionally done things their own way when it comes to sales and selling. They’ve found what truly works for them–even if it bucks the prevailing wisdom or would make a bro marketing expert role his or her eyes.

These stories come from business coach Ashley Gartland, marketing expert Amy Lippmann, designer Mel Richards, and work reinvention coach Lydia Lee.

Listen for how they incorporated these same considerations into finding their own unique sales systems. They designed their systems with personal values, strong relationships, reduced anxiety, and agency in mind.

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

This show is called What Works for a reason.

Sometimes it’s a declaration: this is what worked for this small business. And often, it’s a question, “What works?”

Today’s episode is very much a question, many questions, really:

What works when it comes to selling when you want to avoid manipulative or exploitative practices?

What works when your values conflict with many of the best practices of selling online but you still want people to buy your stuff?

What works when it comes to sales in a business that is actively anti-racist and anti-capitalist?

And even more bluntly: Can you even sell things without causing harm or perpetuating harmful systems?

My friend Kate Strathmann is the founder of Wanderwell, a bookkeeping and consulting firm that grows thriving businesses while investigating new models for being in business.

Recently, Kate took a bit of a detour from how she’s used to building her business, which is 90% referral based and fueled by deep relationship- and community-building. She decided to offer a small group program called the Equitable Business Incubator as a way of exploring anti-capitalist business practices and how they apply to the small businesses we’re building.

To fill the program, Kate need to sell differently.

Which led her to asking the question: Can you even sell things as a anti-capitalist?

While that might not be your specific question, I have a feeling that you too have wondering how you can effectively sell your offers without causing harm, perpetuating harmful systems, or damaging relationships. And that’s why I knew Kate and I needed to explore this topic on the show.

This is a conversation about what a kinder, less harmful sales process could look like—and it probably contains more questions than answers. But I’m confident those questions can help you find the answers that are right for you and the sales system that you want to build to make your business stronger.

We start out by defining what we’re really talking about when we talk about capitalism and anti-capitalism. Then, Kate shares how the Equitable Business Incubator came to be and how she ended up selling it. And then we dig into what makes many of the sales formulas and best practices being taught today problematic—and how to think differently to create your own alternative practices.

Now, let’s take a look at what works for creating less harmful sales systems!

EP 297: Selling A New Program With Proof To Product Founder Katie Hunt

Today’s guest is Katie Hunt—who is a member of the former group and serves the latter group.

Katie is the founder of Proof To Product, which helps creative entrepreneurs run and grow thriving product-based businesses. She works with designers, illustrators, and artists to help them develop in-demand product lines and get them sold in stores all over the world.

Not long after the pandemic threw her business and the industry she serves for a major loop, Katie and her team launched Proof To Product Labs to provide a completely digital, ongoing support opportunity for business owners when they needed it most.

And that launch was a smash.

Katie and I get into all of the nuts and bolts of how she adjusted the offer to meet the moment and how she warmed up her audience before the campaign, as well as the exact mix of emails, podcast ads, and social media content she used to sell the offer when it went live. We also talk about how she sees the sales system evolving in the future and how the offer has been received now that people are using it!

What Works offers in-depth, well-researched content that strips away the hype of the 21st-century economy. Whether you love the podcast, the articles, or the Instagram content, we’d love your support