I take a look around the small business world sometimes, and I get a little sad.

It’s heartbreaking to watch small businesses  go out of business or not bring home enough bacon simply because they get trapped into thinking about their pricing in the wrong way.

When you differentiate yourself based on price, you simply cannot provide value. You end up competing on the wrong playing field, and it’s not one in which you are built to win.

Yes, price war competitors have been in operation since the days of the Greek agora, but it’s important to understand that if YOU want to build a sustainable, scalable — and one day SALE-able — business, a core foundational piece of that puzzle is that you must be charging enough for your goods and services.

Last week we addressed the danger of LOWERING your prices. Let’s talk today about how you can raise them.

Ursula Garrett’s Price War Strategies: Three Reasons To Raise Your Prices

“I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.” – Florence Nightingale

Many small businesses remain in perpetual survival mode because of how they price their products.

They believe that their only competitive advantage lies within their pricing, and so they run an ever-accelerating race to the bottom.

But even in shaky times (which, if you’re looking at current economic numbers, we are NOT currently facing), people still have money to spend.

So it stands to reason that if you’re not bringing it in, you’re simply not doing a good enough job showing them that your place of business is the best place to spend it.

You see, it’s all about understanding the specific value you provide. And if you’re not clear on it, your prospective customers certainly won’t be.

So how can you do better in communicating your specific value? Three ideas for you today…

1. Dig into your unique value proposition

Your prospects have no way to know if you are the best option for them. To regular consumers, most options are the same — in almost every industry. So when you compete on price, you attract … those who are shopping based on price. And, of course, they see you as “just like everyone else”.

So, what makes your business different? And how do you show that to the marketplace?  That’s what you need to focus on and become able to quickly tell that simple story. Your prospects must turn to you because they trust you, and because they see your business as worth the money — not because you’re the cheapest option.

2. Most consumers make purchasing decisions based on emotion

Why can Nordstrom’s charge higher prices for products found elsewhere (i.e. cars, purses, ties, shoes)? It’s because of the VALUE they’ve attached to their brand (i.e. social prestige, enhanced customer service, increased self-esteem). They’ve moved themselves out of the commodity market and into the heart, emotions and primal urges of their clients.  

You need to (and can) do the same thing in your business. Yes, your customer can get a widget or receive a service for $XYZ … but what are they NOT getting when they work with that other option? Focus on identifying these aspects of your offering. Your value is not derived from the “features” of your product or service … it is found in the intangible — emotional — benefits from working with or purchasing from YOU.

3. Re-package your offerings based on value

For service professionals, there are only so many hours in a day and you’ll reach an income plateau very quickly when you are billing by the hour. Not to mention that you have to start every month over at zero — and there’s little stability in that. So, my advice? Begin billing on a flat-fee/value basis.  

If you’re scared to shift, just think of the *value* your customers will experience having a professional using flat fee billing. They won’t be nickel-and-dimed for every phone call, email and message that comes through the office. They can communicate with you as they wish without fear and they can pick their price point of choice if you have multiple flat-fee options. Many people are willing to pay more for certainty. It’s a win-win for them — and it’s very much a win-win for the health/sustainability of your business.

For retailers or product providers, you can only play “margin games” for so long. So, identify monthly services that might augment the experience of using your products. Consider what your customers actually want (on an emotional level) and the problems they face in using your services. Restaurants could initiate a “VIP club”, with special perks, automatic billing and exclusive choices. Merchants can create enthusiast groups, or lessons and coaching.

The point is to go *beyond* the widget … and into the heart of your customers’ desires.

Remember this: There are always consumers out there with more money to spend. And they NEED your products or services. It is left to you to convey the intrinsic value of working with you (even at a higher price point) for you to make a revenue shift with what is left of this year.

Feel very free to forward this article to a business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners.


Ursula Garrett

(951) 679-2610

Garrett & Associates, CPA