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4 Questions for an Awesome Pricing Strategy

Three dollars for real maple syrup. On a supermarket shelf, that’s not a bad deal. On a restaurant menu, next to some pancakes or waffles… a little less appealing.

My summer travels have brought me face to face with this “extra” line item several times. I haven’t sprung for it, although sometimes it has made me rethink my order and go for the eggs florentine or an omelette.

If the fancy waffles or pancakes had merely cost a few dollars more, I might not have noticed. If there was no mention of maple syrup at all, maybe I would have ignored the hint of corn syrup in whatever accompanied the Belgian waffles or stack of flapjacks that were placed before me. Instead, the restaurant had deliberately called out: “Hey, we’re going to give you an inferior product by default, but you can pay extra for something better.”

This does not make me a happy customer. I now feel like I am being cheated. I am outraged at the markup (because they’re just pouring the syrup out of a bottle… it’s not like they’re claiming it’s artisanal homemade maple syrup from the tree out back). I feel like I’m being nickel and dimed.

You may not be a breakfast joint or a restaurant or even sell a “thing” at all. But every business has prices, which are designed to do two things: make a profit after covering costs and be enticing enough to the buyer they will actually pay. These prices are not intended to anger customers, make them feel like they’re being taken advantage of or that the business is trying to be cute and/or deceitful. And this is where simplicity comes in.

What you sell or offer may be expensive, and that is not itself necessarily a bad thing. Premium products and services have premium prices, which dictates who should be your target customer. But HOW you present your price is often as important as what your price actually is.

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