what message are you sending with your prices?

price is part of brand.jpg

if you have been reading this blog for a while you have already heard me say this: your brand is not your logo. your brand is the message you are sending the world about your business. and part of that message, part of your brand, is your price.

be aware of the message you may be sending if you engage in the following practices:

facebook sale albums, market nights, discounts, coupons etc.

don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for a sale or special offer (for instance if you want to generate some buzz, create a time constraint to buy, get rid of samples or discontinued items) and i am sure there are businesses that swear that their discounts work.

but i get this question a lot: "people only seem to want to buy from me when i have a sale. how can i get them to buy items at full price?" or "i do a 'sale night' on facebook once a week and it used to be popular but now it seems like even the sale prices are too high for people" or "people only seem to like my page if i am doing a sale or giveaway. i only sell stuff when i have a discount."

be aware of the fact that when you reduce your prices you create a culture where people won’t want to buy at the full price. you are training people to expect to get your items for 'cheap' and you often need to continue to reduct prices to stay competitive - it becomes a vicous cycle! this seems especially true on facebook where people often are only looking for a ‘deal’.

  • instead: if you have a sale, make it a rare occurance and have a purpose for it; if you want to offer discounts/deals do it for your VIP customers - the people who often buy from you at full price; don’t call it a sale or a deal or any word that implies that your products are cheap or have less value; create a culture of exclusivity with your offer.

tag-to-buy style promos where item is ridiculously low priced

this seems to be a way of businesses getting around facebook’s rules for promotions. you are allowed to sell your thing on facebook any way you like, so rather than have a giveaway I have seen page owners ‘sell’ their items for 1c, 5c, $1 or some other ridiculously low price.

a giveaway (a prize with monetary value that people want to win) can create interest in and buzz for your brand. your offer implies exclusivity in that there can only be one winner, and the value of the prize is noted so even though it is a freebie the entrants are aware of your full prices.

selling your item for $1 doesn’t really send that same message. instead you are telling people that either you don’t care about making a profit or your products do not have very much value in the first place.

  • instead: if you want to create some buzz and excitement for your page with a purchase (instead of a giveaway that involves annoying rules) then again, create a culture of exclusivity. a limited edition product, an in demand product that you only have a few left of, a small sampling of something new you have on offer… and be sure that your discount is reasonable, that you are clearly still making a profit with the sale.

under pricing the standard rates in your field or niche

setting your prices well below the norm in your niche, as a method of gaining customers, will usually backfire. if your prices are cheap your product is often seen as cheap as well, and you usually attract people that aren’t your ‘right people’ at all. you can’t run a business if you don’t make a profit and it is sometimes difficult to raise your prices later when you realize this mistake.

  • instead: set your prices so that they fit within the standards of your field. if you have low prices as a method of gaining experience, building your portfolio, or testing out a new product – then make it very clear that that is what you are doing. state your ‘standard rates’ and then describe your special rate along with why you are offering it and for how long it will be on offer.

‘affordable’ as your brand message

affordable is a relative term. what is affordable to one is cheap to another and expensive to yet another. what one person values is different from the next. so selling your item on the fact that it is ‘affordable’ is pointless, it doesn’t really tell anyone about what you do and why it rocks.

not only that, anyone else can come along and undersell you… if the only thing that was keeping your customers interested was your ‘affordable’ price then you have just lost them.

  • instead: sell on the benefits of your product or service. sell on the thing that makes you stand out from the rest. sell on the way in which you solve your customer’s problems or meet their needs. sell on the thing that your people value – the thing they will pay you for even if you changed the price or some other biz tried to undersell you.

pricing that does not match the rest of your brand

lately i have seen examples of some gorgeous custom-made products being sold on excellent professional websites with knock-out visual branding, but the prices were so low i wondered what was wrong with them.

i have also seen some really shocking, unprofessional looking sites and pages with homemade looking logos that were selling products or services at prices that were quite high in their niche. if i were going to pay that price i would expect it to come from a business that was much more professional.

  • instead: your brand message must be consistent. consistency builds trust. if i don’t trust your biz/product/service/brand i won’t buy from you. if you are just starting out with a homemade logo and website, be sure you are clear that you are JSO and offering introductory prices. if you have a professional business then act like it! set prices that clearly demonstrate the value, expertise and uniqueness of your product.

even if you are ‘just starting out’ with your business idea, if you are just a hobby at the moment, or if you only have a facebook page for your business – i would bet that your goal is to be a ‘real business’ one day. all the more reason to careful with the prices you are setting for your products.

what you do now will have a lasting impact on your business and on your brand.

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