While there are innumerable inputs that one can give an entrepreneur on how to price a product or service, the one piece of advice that never shows up is: asking customers how much they would pay! Sounds strange to you as a start-up? Are you wondering if it will look crazy? Do you think they will under quote and cheat you? If you are saying any of these to yourself upon answering the question, please wash your face and re-think again.
Everyone wants to practice value pricing. But the trouble is we are not sure about what ‘value’ means. Hence it gets really difficult to identify the right price. But won’t it be easy to show case your product to chosen users and seek inputs on what exactly is their benefits or perceived value? Won’t it better if you hear from the horse’s mouth, what the potential benefit is, in tangible terms? Are they saving money as you assumed or it is that they are actually saving effort? Are they buying because it is faster and more stylish or are they purchasing because it is lighter and has longer battery life? Hearing from the user about what they value can provide valuable insights to pricing product and services.
You will be surprised at how gracious customers are. While some are mean and want to break you down by negotiating hard, most people are fair and want you to continue providing the service at fair price. They understand that their vendors cannot survive without making money, and hitting them hard is not good for them too.
Asking customers what the price should be is a daring practice. May be we need to ask them about their benefits, perceptions, etc.,. rather than price directly. But in any case, they are the best people to give us indications of what the product or service should cost to them. In fact the rational that they give for pricing should be treated with great care as it will give a start-up enough information to price at the optimum level.
This practice is worth exploring simply because, most start-ups under price themselves and stay stuck at that level. They simply cannot rise out the lower gross margins with which they start. Using all other strategies does not work, once we are perceived wrong by our customers. Pricing has a tremendous effect on perception.
Try experiments in pricing and use them as potential tools for creation of buzz! How often have you found a company asking you to decide how much you want to pay?
Think about it!