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Jenn Leach

Jenn Leach

27 days ago

This clever Instagram marketing technique increased my sales to $30,000 per month.

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Matthew Royse

Matthew Royse

2 months ago

5 Tips for Concise Writing

Here's how to be clear.

I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” — French mathematician, physicist, inventor, philosopher, and writer Blaise Pascal

Concise.

People want this. We tend to repeat ourselves and use unnecessary words.

Being vague frustrates readers. It focuses their limited attention span on figuring out what you're saying rather than your message.

Edit carefully.

Examine every word you put on paper. You’ll find a surprising number that don’t serve any purpose.” — American writer, editor, literary critic, and teacher William Zinsser

How do you write succinctly?

Here are three ways to polish your writing.

1. Delete

Your readers will appreciate it if you delete unnecessary words. If a word or phrase is essential, keep it. Don't force it.

Many readers dislike bloated sentences. Ask yourself if cutting a word or phrase will change the meaning or dilute your message.

For example, you could say, “It’s absolutely essential that I attend this meeting today, so I know the final outcome.” It’s better to say, “It’s critical I attend the meeting today, so I know the results.”

Key takeaway

Delete actually, completely, just, full, kind of, really, and totally. Keep the necessary words, cut the rest.

2. Just Do It

Don't tell readers your plans. Your readers don't need to know your plans. Who are you?

Don't say, "I want to highlight our marketing's problems." Our marketing issues are A, B, and C. This cuts 5–7 words per sentence.

Keep your reader's attention on the essentials, not the fluff. What are you doing? You won't lose readers because you get to the point quickly and don't build up.

Key takeaway

Delete words that don't add to your message. Do something, don't tell readers you will.

3. Cut Overlap

You probably repeat yourself unintentionally. You may add redundant sentences when brainstorming. Read aloud to detect overlap.

Remove repetition from your writing. It's important to edit our writing and thinking to avoid repetition.

Key Takeaway

If you're repeating yourself, combine sentences to avoid overlap.

4. Simplify

Write as you would to family or friends. Communicate clearly. Don't use jargon. These words confuse readers.

Readers want specifics, not jargon. Write simply. Done.

Most adults read at 8th-grade level. Jargon and buzzwords make speech fluffy. This confuses readers who want simple language.

Key takeaway

Ensure all audiences can understand you. USA Today's 5th-grade reading level is intentional. They want everyone to understand.

5. Active voice

Subjects perform actions in active voice. When you write in passive voice, the subject receives the action.

For example, “the board of directors decided to vote on the topic” is an active voice, while “a decision to vote on the topic was made by the board of directors” is a passive voice.

Key takeaway

Active voice clarifies sentences. Active voice is simple and concise.

Bringing It All Together

Five tips help you write clearly. Delete, just do it, cut overlap, use simple language, and write in an active voice.

Clear writing is effective. It's okay to occasionally use unnecessary words or phrases. Realizing it is key. Check your writing.

Adding words costs.

Write more concisely. People will appreciate it and read your future articles, emails, and messages. Spending extra time will increase trust and influence.

Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” — Naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau

Rachel Greenberg

Rachel Greenberg

1 month ago

6 Causes Your Sales Pitch Is Unintentionally Repulsing Customers

Skip this if you don't want to discover why your lively, no-brainer pitch isn't making $10k a month.

Photo by Chase Chappell on Unsplash

You don't want to be repulsive as an entrepreneur or anyone else. Making friends, influencing people, and converting strangers into customers will be difficult if your words evoke disgust, distrust, or disrespect. You may be one of many entrepreneurs who do this obliviously and involuntarily.

I've had to master selling my skills to recruiters (to land 6-figure jobs on Wall Street), selling companies to buyers in M&A transactions, and selling my own companies' products to strangers-turned-customers. I probably committed every cardinal sin of sales repulsion before realizing it was me or my poor salesmanship strategy.

If you're launching a new business, frustrated by low conversion rates, or just curious if you're repelling customers, read on to identify (and avoid) the 6 fatal errors that can kill any sales pitch.

1. The first indication

So many people fumble before they even speak because they assume their role is to convince the buyer. In other words, they expect to pressure, arm-twist, and combat objections until they convert the buyer. Actuality, the approach stinks of disgust, and emotionally-aware buyers would feel "gross" immediately.

Instead of trying to persuade a customer to buy, ask questions that will lead them to do so on their own. When a customer discovers your product or service on their own, they need less outside persuasion. Why not position your offer in a way that leads customers to sell themselves on it?

2. A flawless performance

Are you memorizing a sales script, tweaking video testimonials, and expunging historical blemishes before hitting "publish" on your new campaign? If so, you may be hurting your conversion rate.

Perfection may be a step too far and cause prospects to mistrust your sincerity. Become a great conversationalist to boost your sales. Seriously. Being charismatic is hard without being genuine and showing a little vulnerability.

People like vulnerability, even if it dents your perfect facade. Show the customer's stuttering testimonial. Open up about your or your company's past mistakes (and how you've since improved). Make your sales pitch a two-way conversation. Let the customer talk about themselves to build rapport. Real people sell, not canned scripts and movie-trailer testimonials.

If marketing or sales calls feel like a performance, you may be doing something wrong or leaving money on the table.

3. Your greatest phobia

Three minutes into prospect talks, I'd start sweating. I was talking 100 miles per hour, covering as many bases as possible to avoid the ones I feared. I knew my then-offering was inadequate and my firm had fears I hadn't addressed. So I word-vomited facts, features, and everything else to avoid the customer's concerns.

Do my prospects know I'm insecure? Maybe not, but it added an unnecessary and unhelpful layer of paranoia that kept me stressed, rushed, and on edge instead of connecting with the prospect. Skirting around a company, product, or service's flaws or objections is a poor, temporary, lazy (and cowardly) decision.

How can you project confidence and trust if you're afraid? Before you make another sales call, face your shortcomings, weak points, and objections. Your company won't be everyone's cup of tea, but you should have answers to every question or objection. You should be your business's top spokesperson and defender.

4. The unintentional apologies

Have you ever begged for a sale? I'm going to say no, however you may be unknowingly emitting sorry, inferior, insecure energy.

Young founders, first-time entrepreneurs, and those with severe imposter syndrome may elevate their target customer. This is common when trying to get first customers for obvious reasons.

  • Since you're truly new at this, you naturally lack experience.

  • You don't have the self-confidence boost of thousands or hundreds of closed deals or satisfied client results to remind you that your good or service is worthwhile.

  • Getting those initial few clients seems like the most difficult task, as if doing so will decide the fate of your company as a whole (it probably won't, and you shouldn't actually place that much emphasis on any one transaction).

Customers can smell fear, insecurity, and anxiety just like they can smell B.S. If you believe your product or service improves clients' lives, selling it should feel like a benevolent act of service, not a sleazy money-grab. If you're a sincere entrepreneur, prospects will believe your proposition; if you're apprehensive, they'll notice.

Approach every sale as if you're fine with or without it. This has improved my salesmanship, marketing skills, and mental health. When you put pressure on yourself to close a sale or convince a difficult prospect "or else" (your company will fail, your rent will be late, your electricity will be cut), you emit desperation and lower the quality of your pitch. There's no point.

5. The endless promises

We've all read a million times how to answer or disprove prospects' arguments and add extra incentives to speed or secure the close. Some objections shouldn't be refuted. What if I told you not to offer certain incentives, bonuses, and promises? What if I told you to walk away from some prospects, even if it means losing your sales goal?

If you market to enough people, make enough sales calls, or grow enough companies, you'll encounter prospects who can't be satisfied. These prospects have endless questions, concerns, and requests for more, more, more that you'll never satisfy. These people are a distraction, a resource drain, and a test of your ability to cut losses before they erode your sanity and profit margin.

To appease or convert these insatiably needy, greedy Nellies into customers, you may agree with or acquiesce to every request and demand — even if you can't follow through. Once you overpromise and answer every hole they poke, their trust in you may wane quickly.

Telling a prospect what you can't do takes courage and integrity. If you're honest, upfront, and willing to admit when a product or service isn't right for the customer, you'll gain respect and positive customer experiences. Sometimes honesty is the most refreshing pitch and the deal-closer.

6. No matter what

Have you ever said, "I'll do anything to close this sale"? If so, you've probably already been disqualified. If a prospective customer haggles over a price, requests a discount, or continues to wear you down after you've made three concessions too many, you have a metal hook in your mouth, not them, and it may not end well. Why?

If you're so willing to cut a deal that you cut prices, comp services, extend payment plans, waive fees, etc., you betray your own confidence that your product or service was worth the stated price. They wonder if anyone is paying those prices, if you've ever had a customer (who wasn't a blood relative), and if you're legitimate or worth your rates.

Once a prospect senses that you'll do whatever it takes to get them to buy, their suspicions rise and they wonder why.

  • Why are you cutting pricing if something is wrong with you or your service?

  • Why are you so desperate for their sale?

  • Why aren't more customers waiting in line to pay your pricing, and if they aren't, what on earth are they doing there?

That's what a prospect thinks when you reveal your lack of conviction, desperation, and willingness to give up control. Some prospects will exploit it to drain you dry, while others will be too frightened to buy from you even if you paid them.

Walking down a two-way street. Be casual.

If we track each act of repulsion to an uneasiness, fear, misperception, or impulse, it's evident that these sales and marketing disasters were forced communications. Stiff, imbalanced, divisive, combative, bravado-filled, and desperate. They were unnatural and accepted a power struggle between two sparring, suspicious, unequal warriors, rather than a harmonious oneness of two natural, but opposite parties shaking hands.

Sales should be natural, harmonious. Sales should feel good for both parties, not like one party is having their arm twisted.

You may be doing sales wrong if it feels repulsive, icky, or degrading. If you're thinking cringe-worthy thoughts about yourself, your product, service, or sales pitch, imagine what you're projecting to prospects. Don't make it unpleasant, repulsive, or cringeworthy.

Camilla Dudley

Camilla Dudley

1 month ago

How to gain Twitter followers: A 101 Guide

No wonder brands use Twitter to reach their audience. 53% of Twitter users buy new products first. 

Twitter growth does more than make your brand look popular. It helps clients trust your business. It boosts your industry standing. It shows clients, prospects, and even competitors you mean business.

How can you naturally gain Twitter followers?

  • Share useful information

  • Post visual content

  • Tweet consistently

  • Socialize

  • Spread your @name everywhere.

  • Use existing customers

  • Promote followers

Share useful information

Twitter users join conversations and consume material. To build your followers, make sure your material appeals to them and gives value, whether it's sales, product lessons, or current events.

Use Twitter Analytics to learn what your audience likes.

Explore popular topics by utilizing relevant keywords and hashtags. Check out this post on how to use Twitter trends.

Post visual content

97% of Twitter users focus on images, so incorporating media can help your Tweets stand out. Visuals and videos make content more engaging and memorable.

Tweet often

Your audience should expect regular content updates. Plan your ideas and tweet during crucial seasons and events with a content calendar.

Socialize

Twitter connects people. Do more than tweet. Follow industry leaders. Retweet influencers, engage with thought leaders, and reply to mentions and customers to boost engagement.

Micro-influencers can promote your brand or items. They can help you gain new audiences' trust.

Spread your @name everywhere.

Maximize brand exposure. Add a follow button on your website, link to it in your email signature and newsletters, and promote it on business cards or menus.

Use existing customers

Emails can be used to find existing Twitter clients. Upload your email contacts and follow your customers on Twitter to start a dialogue.

Promote followers

Run a followers campaign to boost your organic growth. Followers campaigns promote your account to a particular demographic, and you only pay when someone follows you.

Consider short campaigns to enhance momentum or an always-on campaign to gain new followers.

Increasing your brand's Twitter followers takes effort and experimentation, but the payback is huge.

👋 Follow me on twitter

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Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio

4 months ago

The latest “bubble indicator” readings.

As you know, I like to turn my intuition into decision rules (principles) that can be back-tested and automated to create a portfolio of alpha bets. I use one for bubbles. Having seen many bubbles in my 50+ years of investing, I described what makes a bubble and how to identify them in markets—not just stocks.

A bubble market has a high degree of the following:

  1. High prices compared to traditional values (e.g., by taking the present value of their cash flows for the duration of the asset and comparing it with their interest rates).
  2. Conditons incompatible with long-term growth (e.g., extrapolating past revenue and earnings growth rates late in the cycle).
  3. Many new and inexperienced buyers were drawn in by the perceived hot market.
  4. Broad bullish sentiment.
  5. Debt financing a large portion of purchases.
  6. Lots of forward and speculative purchases to profit from price rises (e.g., inventories that are more than needed, contracted forward purchases, etc.).

I use these criteria to assess all markets for bubbles. I have periodically shown you these for stocks and the stock market.

What Was Shown in January Versus Now

I will first describe the picture in words, then show it in charts, and compare it to the last update in January.

As of January, the bubble indicator showed that a) the US equity market was in a moderate bubble, but not an extreme one (ie., 70 percent of way toward the highest bubble, which occurred in the late 1990s and late 1920s), and b) the emerging tech companies (ie. As well, the unprecedented flood of liquidity post-COVID financed other bubbly behavior (e.g. SPACs, IPO boom, big pickup in options activity), making things bubbly. I showed which stocks were in bubbles and created an index of those stocks, which I call “bubble stocks.”

Those bubble stocks have popped. They fell by a third last year, while the S&P 500 remained flat. In light of these and other market developments, it is not necessarily true that now is a good time to buy emerging tech stocks.

The fact that they aren't at a bubble extreme doesn't mean they are safe or that it's a good time to get long. Our metrics still show that US stocks are overvalued. Once popped, bubbles tend to overcorrect to the downside rather than settle at “normal” prices.

The following charts paint the picture. The first shows the US equity market bubble gauge/indicator going back to 1900, currently at the 40% percentile. The charts also zoom in on the gauge in recent years, as well as the late 1920s and late 1990s bubbles (during both of these cases the gauge reached 100 percent ).

The chart below depicts the average bubble gauge for the most bubbly companies in 2020. Those readings are down significantly.

The charts below compare the performance of a basket of emerging tech bubble stocks to the S&P 500. Prices have fallen noticeably, giving up most of their post-COVID gains.

The following charts show the price action of the bubble slice today and in the 1920s and 1990s. These charts show the same market dynamics and two key indicators. These are just two examples of how a lot of debt financing stock ownership coupled with a tightening typically leads to a bubble popping.

Everything driving the bubbles in this market segment is classic—the same drivers that drove the 1920s bubble and the 1990s bubble. For instance, in the last couple months, it was how tightening can act to prick the bubble. Review this case study of the 1920s stock bubble (starting on page 49) from my book Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises to grasp these dynamics.

The following charts show the components of the US stock market bubble gauge. Since this is a proprietary indicator, I will only show you some of the sub-aggregate readings and some indicators.

Each of these six influences is measured using a number of stats. This is how I approach the stock market. These gauges are combined into aggregate indices by security and then for the market as a whole. The table below shows the current readings of these US equity market indicators. It compares current conditions for US equities to historical conditions. These readings suggest that we’re out of a bubble.

1. How High Are Prices Relatively?

This price gauge for US equities is currently around the 50th percentile.

2. Is price reduction unsustainable?

This measure calculates the earnings growth rate required to outperform bonds. This is calculated by adding up the readings of individual securities. This indicator is currently near the 60th percentile for the overall market, higher than some of our other readings. Profit growth discounted in stocks remains high.

Even more so in the US software sector. Analysts' earnings growth expectations for this sector have slowed, but remain high historically. P/Es have reversed COVID gains but remain high historical.

3. How many new buyers (i.e., non-existing buyers) entered the market?

Expansion of new entrants is often indicative of a bubble. According to historical accounts, this was true in the 1990s equity bubble and the 1929 bubble (though our data for this and other gauges doesn't go back that far). A flood of new retail investors into popular stocks, which by other measures appeared to be in a bubble, pushed this gauge above the 90% mark in 2020. The pace of retail activity in the markets has recently slowed to pre-COVID levels.

4. How Broadly Bullish Is Sentiment?

The more people who have invested, the less resources they have to keep investing, and the more likely they are to sell. Market sentiment is now significantly negative.

5. Are Purchases Being Financed by High Leverage?

Leveraged purchases weaken the buying foundation and expose it to forced selling in a downturn. The leverage gauge, which considers option positions as a form of leverage, is now around the 50% mark.

6. To What Extent Have Buyers Made Exceptionally Extended Forward Purchases?

Looking at future purchases can help assess whether expectations have become overly optimistic. This indicator is particularly useful in commodity and real estate markets, where forward purchases are most obvious. In the equity markets, I look at indicators like capital expenditure, or how much businesses (and governments) invest in infrastructure, factories, etc. It reflects whether businesses are projecting future demand growth. Like other gauges, this one is at the 40th percentile.

What one does with it is a tactical choice. While the reversal has been significant, future earnings discounting remains high historically. In either case, bubbles tend to overcorrect (sell off more than the fundamentals suggest) rather than simply deflate. But I wanted to share these updated readings with you in light of recent market activity.

Daniel Clery

13 days ago

Twisted device investigates fusion alternatives

German stellarator revamped to run longer, hotter, compete with tokamaks

Wendelstein 7-X’s complex geometry was a nightmare to build but, when fired up, worked from the start.

Tokamaks have dominated the search for fusion energy for decades. Just as ITER, the world's largest and most expensive tokamak, nears completion in southern France, a smaller, twistier testbed will start up in Germany.

If the 16-meter-wide stellarator can match or outperform similar-size tokamaks, fusion experts may rethink their future. Stellarators can keep their superhot gases stable enough to fuse nuclei and produce energy. They can theoretically run forever, but tokamaks must pause to reset their magnet coils.

The €1 billion German machine, Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X), is already getting "tokamak-like performance" in short runs, claims plasma physicist David Gates, preventing particles and heat from escaping the superhot gas. If W7-X can go long, "it will be ahead," he says. "Stellarators excel" Eindhoven University of Technology theorist Josefine Proll says, "Stellarators are back in the game." A few of startup companies, including one that Gates is leaving Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, are developing their own stellarators.

W7-X has been running at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald, Germany, since 2015, albeit only at low power and for brief runs. W7-X's developers took it down and replaced all inner walls and fittings with water-cooled equivalents, allowing for longer, hotter runs. The team reported at a W7-X board meeting last week that the revised plasma vessel has no leaks. It's expected to restart later this month to show if it can get plasma to fusion-igniting conditions.

Wendelstein 7-X’s twisting inner surface is now water cooled, enabling longer runs

Wendelstein 7-X's water-cooled inner surface allows for longer runs.

HOSAN/IPP

Both stellarators and tokamaks create magnetic gas cages hot enough to melt metal. Microwaves or particle beams heat. Extreme temperatures create a plasma, a seething mix of separated nuclei and electrons, and cause the nuclei to fuse, releasing energy. A fusion power plant would use deuterium and tritium, which react quickly. Non-energy-generating research machines like W7-X avoid tritium and use hydrogen or deuterium instead.

Tokamaks and stellarators use electromagnetic coils to create plasma-confining magnetic fields. A greater field near the hole causes plasma to drift to the reactor's wall.

Tokamaks control drift by circulating plasma around a ring. Streaming creates a magnetic field that twists and stabilizes ionized plasma. Stellarators employ magnetic coils to twist, not plasma. Once plasma physicists got powerful enough supercomputers, they could optimize stellarator magnets to improve plasma confinement.

W7-X is the first large, optimized stellarator with 50 6- ton superconducting coils. Its construction began in the mid-1990s and cost roughly twice the €550 million originally budgeted.

The wait hasn't disappointed researchers. W7-X director Thomas Klinger: "The machine operated immediately." "It's a friendly machine." It did everything we asked." Tokamaks are prone to "instabilities" (plasma bulging or wobbling) or strong "disruptions," sometimes associated to halted plasma flow. IPP theorist Sophia Henneberg believes stellarators don't employ plasma current, which "removes an entire branch" of instabilities.

In early stellarators, the magnetic field geometry drove slower particles to follow banana-shaped orbits until they collided with other particles and leaked energy. Gates believes W7-X's ability to suppress this effect implies its optimization works.

W7-X loses heat through different forms of turbulence, which push particles toward the wall. Theorists have only lately mastered simulating turbulence. W7-X's forthcoming campaign will test simulations and turbulence-fighting techniques.

A stellarator can run constantly, unlike a tokamak, which pulses. W7-X has run 100 seconds—long by tokamak standards—at low power. The device's uncooled microwave and particle heating systems only produced 11.5 megawatts. The update doubles heating power. High temperature, high plasma density, and extensive runs will test stellarators' fusion power potential. Klinger wants to heat ions to 50 million degrees Celsius for 100 seconds. That would make W7-X "a world-class machine," he argues. The team will push for 30 minutes. "We'll move step-by-step," he says.

W7-X's success has inspired VCs to finance entrepreneurs creating commercial stellarators. Startups must simplify magnet production.

Princeton Stellarators, created by Gates and colleagues this year, has $3 million to build a prototype reactor without W7-X's twisted magnet coils. Instead, it will use a mosaic of 1000 HTS square coils on the plasma vessel's outside. By adjusting each coil's magnetic field, operators can change the applied field's form. Gates: "It moves coil complexity to the control system." The company intends to construct a reactor that can fuse cheap, abundant deuterium to produce neutrons for radioisotopes. If successful, the company will build a reactor.

Renaissance Fusion, situated in Grenoble, France, raised €16 million and wants to coat plasma vessel segments in HTS. Using a laser, engineers will burn off superconductor tracks to carve magnet coils. They want to build a meter-long test segment in 2 years and a full prototype by 2027.

Type One Energy in Madison, Wisconsin, won DOE money to bend HTS cables for stellarator magnets. The business carved twisting grooves in metal with computer-controlled etching equipment to coil cables. David Anderson of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, claims advanced manufacturing technology enables the stellarator.

Anderson said W7-X's next phase will boost stellarator work. “Half-hour discharges are steady-state,” he says. “This is a big deal.”

Sammy Abdullah

Sammy Abdullah

21 years ago

How to properly price SaaS

Price Intelligently put out amazing content on pricing your SaaS product. This blog's link to the whole report is worth reading. Our key takeaways are below.

Don't base prices on the competition. Competitor-based pricing has clear drawbacks. Their pricing approach is yours. Your company offers customers something unique. Otherwise, you wouldn't create it. This strategy is static, therefore you can't add value by raising prices without outpricing competitors. Look, but don't touch is the competitor-based moral. You want to know your competitors' prices so you're in the same ballpark, but they shouldn't guide your selections. Competitor-based pricing also drives down prices.

Value-based pricing wins. This is customer-based pricing. Value-based pricing looks outward, not inward or laterally at competitors. Your clients are the best source of pricing information. By valuing customer comments, you're focusing on buyers. They'll decide if your pricing and packaging are right. In addition to asking consumers about cost savings or revenue increases, look at data like number of users, usage per user, etc.

Value-based pricing increases prices. As you learn more about the client and your worth, you'll know when and how much to boost rates. Every 6 months, examine pricing.

Cloning top customers. You clone your consumers by learning as much as you can about them and then reaching out to comparable people or organizations. You can't accomplish this without knowing your customers. Segmenting and reproducing them requires as much detail as feasible. Offer pricing plans and feature packages for 4 personas. The top plan should state Contact Us. Your highest-value customers want more advice and support.

Question your 4 personas. What's the one item you can't live without? Which integrations matter most? Do you do analytics? Is support important or does your company self-solve? What's too cheap? What's too expensive?

Not everyone likes per-user pricing. SaaS organizations often default to per-user analytics. About 80% of companies utilizing per-user pricing should use an alternative value metric because their goods don't give more value with more users, so charging for them doesn't make sense.

At least 3:1 LTV/CAC. Break even on the customer within 2 years, and LTV to CAC is greater than 3:1. Because customer acquisition costs are paid upfront but SaaS revenues accrue over time, SaaS companies face an early financial shortfall while paying back the CAC.

ROI should be >20:1. Indeed. Ensure the customer's ROI is 20x the product's cost. Microsoft Office costs $80 a year, but consumers would pay much more to maintain it.

A/B Testing. A/B testing is guessing. When your pricing page varies based on assumptions, you'll upset customers. You don't have enough customers anyway. A/B testing optimizes landing pages, design decisions, and other site features when you know the problem but not pricing.

Don't discount. It cheapens the product, makes it permanent, and increases churn. By discounting, you're ruining your pricing analysis.