Whether you are a small business or a large corporation marketing means Segmentation and Targeting. Marketing is about finding what is relevant to each segment and delivering at a price they are willing to pay. There is nothing more to it. It is however easier said than done. It does come easy to companies like P&G that have done it for so long, institutionalized the process, has the resources to conduct customer research, gather insights and invest on new product lines to monetize those insights.
Not all can afford such unfettered access to intellectual or capital resources.
I saw a post by an artist, Ms. Michelle Moyer, of White Dog Studios, who makes and sells jewelery. Michelle is thinking about pricing her wares correctly. She says,
I think that artists undervalue their work far too often. When I go to shows or browse online and see handcrafted pieces selling for a price that I know will barely cover material costs, if at all, I cringe because this sets the market lower for my work. I believe that my work has value and that incorporates not just the material costs, but the time it takes for me to develop the design and make the piece.
I want to highlight a great point that Ms.Moyer intuitively figured out, it is the effect of reference price. Customers do not know the absolute value of the crafts. There is not a universal system that tells us how much we value Ms. Moyer’s craft’s vs. others. We look at prices relative to available options. While there is no common value for crafts, presence of lower priced competitive items sets a lower reference price for her customers.
Ms. Moyer talks about rest of her pricing in terms of material costs and labor costs, and about how much artists value their work. Pricing is about capturing a share of the value you create for your customers. Your costs are irrelevant to your customers. Pricing needs to be based on value added to customers. It is not about what you value or what you think the value is, it is what your different customers think.
The value is not the same across all customers. In the book Game Changer, retired CEO of P&G Mr.A.G.Lafley talks about “who is your WHO?. The “WHO” refers to the customer. Mr.Lafley, goes on to say
“As you work to better understand the WHO, you’ll discover that people use your product for different reasons. They may have different occasions for when and how to use it; differences about what they think is a good value, and what they are willing to pay. One size does not fit all”
Ms. Moyer is practicing a type of multi-version pricing,
I try to offer a range of pieces at various prices. For example, this bracelet, for sale on my Etsy shop, is only $20, which I believe is a fair and affordable price. This bracelet, on the other hand, took much longer to design and create, so it is priced at $70.
This is good but her multi-version pricing is once again based on her costs rather than on segmentation or customer value. Taking a lesson from Game Changer, there are opportunities to find the reasons people buy the bracelets, different occasions and how the customers use the bracelets.
It is not easy when you are a small business who cannot afford to hire someone to do strategic marketing or invest in doing customer research or segmentation studies. Even a simple pricing of just one version of your product gets harder when you make products that have no “common value”. So the easiest route seem to be producing what is easy to you or pricing it based on your costs.
But it does not have to be as rigorous and formal as it is for a multi-billion dollar giant like P&G. You can solve 50% of the problem by simply starting a conversation with your customers.
This blog and I can help you get started on the right type of customer conversation and finding what they value. Write to me.
Related article: Small Business pricing.