How To Make Price Irrelevant

How do you make price irrelevant to your customer?

You sell something to their heart.

The heart doesn’t think in numbers.

If you create an amazing product that I love and your marketing repeatedly shows my heart why I love it, my heart will decide to buy it.

If my heart decides to buy it (and not my head), the price will be secondary. It might not even matter at all.

When my oldest son Isaac was just three years old, I took him to his first NHL hockey game. We went to see the Edmonton Oilers play the New Jersey Devils. After the game he gripped my hand as we walked through the crowds to the exit, and out of the corner of his eye he spotted a souvenir stand and pulled me towards it.

“That bear must be lonely,” he said, pointing at a glass case with a stuffed teddy bear wearing an Oilers jersey. “He’s all alone.”

The kid was right. There was only one Oilers bear left. And after those words melted my heart, the bear was coming home with us. He was lonely no more.

And the price didn’t matter.

My heart was going to have that bear no matter how much it cost.

Isaac is now 22, and he still has “Oily” the bear.

If you speak to your customer’s heart, everything else falls into place., and very quickly the heart convinces the head that the price is worth it.

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Understanding Your Brand's Role

Great brands understand their place in the mind of the customer.

Sometime around 1990, The Rolling Stones realized that they were a nostalgia act. Their fans wanted to hear "Satisfaction", "Jumpin' Jack Flash", and "Start Me Up". In the era of grunge and the mainstream rise of hip-hop, The Rolling Stones suddenly sounded out of place on the radio. When they released new music, it wasn't the major event it was a decade earlier.

The Rolling Stones have only released four studio albums since 1989, and one of them was a pure blues record. That's four albums in 28 years. Contrast that to the band's first 25 years, when they released a prolific 22 albums between 1964 and 1989.

Today when the Stones play live, they play the hits and the gems and the lost classics their fans love. They don't focus on songs from their latest album, because they know what their fans want from them.

Does your team understand exactly what your customers want from your brand? Are you trying to force new songs down their throat, or are you playing the hits they want to hear?  Successful brands - and bands - give their fans what they want. Nobody ever left a concert complaining that the band played all of the hits they love!


The Price/Value Equation

Are you hearing that your prices are too high?
Do your customers tell you you're charging them too much?
Are you losing business to lower priced competitors?

If price is a complaint, there is a very good chance you're not providing enough value.

Instead of lowering prices, consider increase perceived value.

Rolex customers don't complain about price. Rolex doesn't lose out on business to lower priced competitors. After all, if you're in the market for a Rolex, chances are you're not settling for a reasonably priced Seiko.

Rolex provides status to it's customers, and status has value.

If Rolex lowered the price, they would lower the status... and hence the value.

Tickets to see Bruce Springsteen on Broadway are expensive. Quantities are limited, the experience is rare, and Bruce is an A-lister. A quick search of StubHub showed the cheapest tickets at $926... in the left corner of the mezzanine, three rows from the back. They aren't the worst seats in the house, but they are damn close. And those tickets will sell. 

People paying $1,000 to see Springsteen on Broadway are not wavering between that and a $50 TKTS bargain to see something else.

If you're hearing that your prices are too high, don't immediately jump to lower them. Maybe they are too high. Or maybe your customers just don't feel like they are getting enough perceived value. 

What Are You Really Selling?

When you go to see Coldplay, you get a bracelet to wear. That bracelet lights up in sync with the music, effectively making every fan in the venue into a part of the show.

That is an experience... not a concert.

Fans don't buy concert tickets. They buy the experience of being there in the flesh, witnessing history, and feeling the songs instead of just hearing them.

Fans don't download songs. They download the chance to sing along, feel great, and have something to transport them to another reality for a few minutes.

And your customers don't buy whatever it is you sell or provide! They buy the experience you or your product provide.

A great accountant provides the experience of knowing you aren't going to get haunted by the tax man for evasion, and that you've kept every penny you deserve.

Insurance provides you with the experience of knowing your family is looked after in the worst of times, should they happen.

An airline sells you the experience of walking into the arms of a loved one after a long time apart, or the experience of arriving hours later in somewhere new, exotic, and exciting.

Nobody ever had the urge to buy toothpaste, but everyone has the urge to have healthy white teeth and fresh kissable breath. 

When you stop thinking about what you sell, and start thinking about how you make your customers feel, you can create magic. That feeling is what is most important. Sell that feeling in your marketing! Stop talking about what you sell, and start talking about how you make me feel.