When Profit Maximization Fails (Evernote Example)

I have been (or I should say had been) a loyal and frequent paid user of the cloud-based note app Evernote for 10 years. That recently came to an end due to their “major new features and improvements” and plan to raise my fee by 85%.

I have loved Evernote. I used it for all my notes (business and personal) and found the organization of notes very simple. We are talking about over 800 notes. I was loyal to them even as they made prior price increases and technological changes I didn’t need. But we all have a breaking point. Evernote blew through mine with the proposed price increase.

Value is Subjective

Evernote, like most technology companies, regularly updated their app with new features. Some of these features were nice, but I found most of them were superfluous for my needs. What I found was an app that was less responsive and required more computing power to handle simple tasks. In fact, a few years ago I had to upgrade my iPad mini simply because the “improved” Evernote required more memory and processing power to handle simple note-taking tasks. This irked me a little, but I loved the interface and was loyal to them.

One recent change Evernote made was to the desktop version of their app. I didn’t realize it at first, but noticed searching and taking notes was taking a long time…something was off. It was then that I noticed I had been complimentary upgraded to the beta version and if I wanted to opt out and revert back to send them an email. I wanted out! I sent them two emails asking them to take me out of the beta. I never heard back from them and they never reverted me to the existing program.

Price is an Issue in the Absence of Value

I’m sure some people will be fine with Evernote’s price increase. But my guess is that they are losing a lot of people as their annual subscription comes up for renewal. Had they kept the price the same, I would have renewed without hesitation. But they increased it substantially, and while they marketed the great value these new features would be, they weren’t a value to me. A simple search online made me realize how easy it is to import my existing notes to another service, such as Apple Notes, which is what I did. And Apple is free! Their interface is not sharp as Evernote, but they don’t bog down their app with features that I don’t value. It was a perfect fit. So I moved my notes and canceled my Evernote subscription.

As a side note, when I went to cancel the subscription they had a sudden change of heart and offered me a 40% discount to keep going another year. Wow, that sounds great! Except for the fact that such price still represented a 10% increase in my subscription rate and by the time the offer came up I had already made up my mind and moved all my notes over to Apple. Too little too late!

What’s This Got to Do With Financial Advisors?

I hope you already know what this has to do with your business. Advisors are constantly telling their clients about all the values they offer. But the product or service is only of value if the consumer values it. Just because you say it is a value doesn’t mean it is. And just because client A values it, doesn’t mean client B will. Understanding and embracing the personal and subjective nature of valuation can help you improve your business offerings and revenues.

Offering more than one service model can help an advisor maximize profits. Some clients will value all you offer. Some may only value a portion of what you offer and others may prefer a basic offering. And psychologically, people love choice. Having two to three concise advisory/planning offerings* can help you maximize your time, efforts, and profits while giving clients the services they actually value at a price they are willing to pay.


*In the Behavioral Finance Network I have three offerings: Basic content, Premium, and Elite. Memberships fit similar to a bell curve. I have a chunk in basic content, a chunk in elite membership, and the vast majority in the premium offering. It doesn’t matter which membership advisors choose – what matters is that they get value for their dollar

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