The Pricing Secret They Forgot to Tell You…

Lock representing secret pricing strategies

So what is this pricing secret they forgot to tell you all about?



People don’t buy on actual price.

People don’t buy on gimmick.

People don’t buy on feelings.

People buy because somewhere deep in their brains, on some subconscious level they want it.

Then, they spend the rest of the time justifying it.

That is why it is so hard to trust a survey of your customers when it comes to pricing strategies.

You can ask your audience what they think they would pay for something but since they are speaking from their rational brain they can list any number of rational reasons.

Most of the time it is impossible to actually know what the triggers are because they are subconscious.  Ask me why I have to have an iPad and I will tell you because it will make a good tool.  It will allow me to read more easily than my laptop.  It’s smaller and lighter.  I’ll be able to use it wirelessly.  I can check email.  Keep my schedule with me at all times.  On and on it goes.

But the real reason I want an iPad… well, honestly I don’t know.  I saw it.  Played with one.  And deep down inside I just wanted it.  I tried to talk myself out of it.  I couldn’t.  The subconscious emotion was far too great… it pulled me right into a two hour line waiting to buy an iPad.

Now there is very likely a reason I had to have one, clearly it appealed to me in some way.  It triggered something in my subconscious brain.  I’ve always liked gadgets and I suspect that my love of the gadget played a large role in my desire to have a new gadget.  I suspect that when I saw the iPad in action my brain started firing off all those neurons reminding me of how great it feels to have a cool new gadget to play with.  Of course the neurons that fire off when a new gadget doesn’t live up to your expectations didn’t fire off at all… hmmmmmmm.

So the question is this, how can we get our customers to buy if buying is an irrational act?  Even when we actually need to buy something, like new socks because ours all have holes in them, we shop and look and figure out which we like best.  We don’t just grab socks.  I mean runners will pay $10 or more for one pair of socks!

How do we tap into that irrational buying button and get people to purchase our stuff?

Simple.  Well not really simple, but there are clear things we can do.

1. Know your customer.

All customer groups have buy buttons with specific irrational buy impulses associated with them.  Hit the right button and your buyer’s neurons start to fire off.  Before they know it… they’ve pushed the buy button.

2. Understand the subconscious value of your product or service.

What is it about your product or service that raises those irrational buy impulses? There are several basic, tried and true impulse buttons.  Things like self image for instance.  When you tell someone they can lose weight fast or lose weight easy, you’re hitting a big impulse button for many people.  Losing weight is a big deal for lots of people.  Add to that the “fast” or “easy” idea and it just sparks off desire.  Even though losing weight fast and easy are both irrational.

3. Clearly understand the benefits of what you are selling.

Benefits will spark subconscious buy buttons faster than features will.  Benefits focus on the outcomes of what using your product or service will provide.  In the last example regarding weight loss, the fast and easy are benefits.  The specifics or features of the weight loss program are not going to have the same effect.  Features of the fast program might include calorie reduction diet and 60 minutes of intense cardio.  Clearly those don’t spark emotion like “fast” and “easy” do.

So if irrationality is the pricing secret have you figured out the price angle?

It is simply this, actual price is only a small factor in a large universe of triggers.  The reality is that paying $500 for an iPad did take some thought but the buy button trigger was too strong.  It overcame price resistance very quickly.  Why?  Why does price matter but then not matter at all?

That’s its own blog post!  Check back to find out.  In the mean time…

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8 Responses to The Pricing Secret They Forgot to Tell You…

  1. Sarah Arrow November 10, 2011 at 10:19 AM #

    Hey Yolanda, please don’t share this all over the web, my hubby thinks my red shoes obsession is careful planning and not me being irrational ;)

    I think when something speaks to you, you’ll have it no matter what the price, like that iPad and the vans my hubby has bought over the years, often paying above retail as that van was the one that flicked that switch in his brain!

    • Yolanda Facio November 10, 2011 at 10:53 AM #

      LOL! Sadly it’s true isn’t it the switch gets flipped and we open our wallets. Keep getting the shoes… Red.HOT!

  2. Suzanne @WorkoutNirvana November 11, 2011 at 9:22 AM #

    This is SO timely Yolanda. I start a new personal training job Monday and there WILL be selling involved. As a trainer I have to realize that I’m helping people by selling them training… they want it but rationalize it away because of money (usually). I’m going to have some training next week and your tips are a good start! Thanks!

    • Yolanda Facio November 11, 2011 at 11:20 AM #

      Sending good thoughts your way for Monday!!! Glad some of the ‘secret’ helps!

  3. Mary Weaver, CSCS November 14, 2011 at 2:47 PM #

    It makes so much sense to tap into the customer’s “irrational” desires—or maybe we could say “non-rational.” I’m reminded of some selling strategies I’ve heard about in the past year that involve helping the customer visualize where she wants to be in the future and contrasting it with where she is now. When we visualize, clearly we’re relying on imagination and using the nonlinear, emotional side of the brain.

    So if, for example, I’m trying to sell to a client who wants to lose weight, I need to help her imagine a future in which she feels healthy and energetic, is more confident happier, and feels good about her appearance. I think of that as “the dream that makes you want to cry”–whatever it is you deeply want but perhaps have given up thinking you could attain.

    My goal is to help her see that my products or services can help her bridge that gap and attain those non-rational desires.

  4. Christine Miller November 15, 2011 at 2:56 AM #

    Really useful post Yolanda, thank you.

    I’m also curious about the context of buying decisions – like why is it that some people can go to the grocery store and come back with bagloads of goods, including food, but that there is still nothing to eat (or more precisely, cook)? I’m sure it’s not just the clever manipulation of how the aisles are laid out.

    Why do some people stick to their carefully made list and others purchase the list – and half the store as well?

    That has to be the non-rational, the emotional impulse at work – Damasio (The Feeling of What Happens) in his research says that all our decisions are based on initial emotional responses, so I guess that means, as you discuss, all decisions are fundamentally based on a desire and fulfillment of a deep unconscious prompting, and then we spend our time looking for reasons why…

  5. Hamish November 19, 2011 at 9:39 AM #

    Hello Yolanda,

    Good post – it certainly describes my own buying process I think. Curiously enough, I feel that the higher the ticket price, the more I rely on “gut feel” rather than logic.

    I guess you really need to put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes and work out how to connect to their inner needs. Easier said than done perhaps – but it can be done I’m sure.


  1. Pricing Strategies: The Pricing Secret They Forgot to Tell You… | Red.Hot.Momentum | Creative Facilitation and Coaching | - November 10, 2011

    [...] Pricing Strategies: The Pricing Secret They Forgot to Tell You… | Red.Hot.Momentum Do customers buy on price? Do they buy on gimmick? What is the motivation and how can we use it to get more sales? Source: [...]

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