Has this ever happened to you?  You’ve just found a stain on your favorite dress; the one that has everyone using words like “drop-dead gorgeous” when describing how you look.  Or, for men, it’s the power suit you wear whenever you’re getting ready to close a big sale.  Either way, you’re at risk of losing the image that’s so vital to you.

As you’re bemoaning your loss, you hear an ad that claims that it’s stain remover: 

  • Removes stains that other stain removers can’t get out
  • Is gentle on all fabrics, so much so that it doesn’t shorten the garment’s life
  • Is green – it produces no toxic waste

You’ve heard all of this before and always been disappointed to find that the claims were unfounded.  Still, if you don’t do something you’re not going to be able to wear the outfit again.  

You do a little research and find that the claims made about this new stain remover have all been substantiated by independent testing labs with stellar reputations for fair and honest appraisal of the products it tests.  Maybe there’s hope yet!

Off to the store you go, encouraged by the possibility of saving your favorite outfit.  You find the stain remover on the shelf and, much to your surprise, find that it’s actually cheaper than the competing brands.  Quickly, what are you thinking?

Does the Hallelujah chorus come to mind?  Or are you wondering whether the product is as good as touted?  Is this another example of advertising hype?  But wait, the testing labs all supported the product’s claims!  Hmm, I wonder if the testing labs aren’t as independent as I thought?

These are the kinds of doubts that we experience every time there is a disconnect between the marketing message we’re hearing and the price we’re seeing.  In essence, when your price doesn’t support your marketing claims, you’re asking the buyer to choose which to believe – the marketing message or the price.  When faced with this choice, which do you believe?

Typically we, as buyers, believe the price.  Why?  Because anyone can claim anything.  We learn that at an early age and our skepticism grows as we grow older.  That’s why we’re skeptical of advertising claims and more trusting of the price we’re seeing.

Let’s continue with our example.  Despite the doubts you’re experiencing you decide to buy the stain remover.  Why?  You don’t have a choice.  You know that the other products you’ve tried don’t work.  This is your one shot at salvaging the look you treasure.

You’re earlier excitement has turned to doubt and anxiety.  Yet you return home with the stain remover and, after several tests on old clothes, you apply it to your favorite outfit.  It works!  You breathe a sigh of relief and thank the powers above that it worked.  Gee, wouldn’t it have been nice if the manufacturer had actually gotten the credit?

Seriously, is this the kind of experience you want your customers to have – one that’s plagued by doubt, fear and anxiety?  Is this the kind of experience that’s going to keep them coming back again and again?  Will it make them want to sing your praises?  Or will their stories of you be littered with pain and anguish?

Here’s another classic example.  You walk into an auto dealer’s showroom and find just the right car.  As you were making your decision the salesperson touted the classic look, sporty feel and luxurious comfort – not to mention the incredibly great mileage the car gets.  You sit down to discuss price.  You tender an offer.  Of course it’s unacceptable.  He takes it to the sales manager and returns with a counter-offer.  On and on the process goes until you finally settle on a price.

What’s the one question on your mind as you leave the showroom?  “I wonder if I got a good deal?”  Why are you wondering that?  Because the car didn’t change, but the price did.  Again, we have an example of price and sales pitch not meshing.

So what’s the message here?  If you want loyal customers, make sure that your price supports your marketing and sales claims.  Customer loyalty hinges on a number of factors.  Customers must feel good about their purchase.  Feeling good means feeling confident about the choice they made.  Confidence in their choices comes from knowing that they made an informed decision.  Where did that knowledge come from?  To a great degree, it stems from the fact that the price matched the marketing claims. 

This concept works regardless of the level of quality or service the buyer desires.  If you’re looking for disposable plates for a child’s birthday party, a one-time-use product for people who could car less about aesthetics, you may go to one of the dollar stores.  The price matches the quality.  You know that you’re not getting much quality, but you’re paying an extremely low price as well.

On the flip side of the coin, if you’re looking for a high quality item with image enhancement capabilities, the price better reflect both or you’re likely to pass on the item.  Why?  If the situation calls for high quality and that quality is going to reflect on you, you don’t want any doubts about the purchase.  You’ll go to an alternative that has a more congruent marketing/price message. 

Stop confusing the market!  Make sure that your pricing supports your marketing claims.  You’ll enjoy greater revenues, higher margins and greater customer loyalty.

Author: Dale Furtwengler is a professional speaker, internationally-acclaimed author and business consultant.  His latest book, Pricing for Profit, is dedicated to helping organizations break the bonds of industry pricing.  For more examples of how pricing impacts the customer experience, visit his Pricing for Profit blog for more information.