Pricing Tells a Story

Every price has a story. The bigger the price, the better the story.

Storytelling in marketing is nothing new. In All Marketers are Liars (Seth Godin), we learned that all marketers tell stories and the best marketers tell stories customers believe. Seth goes on to explain that stories are shortcuts to understanding what a product/service is all about.

While reading the August issue of Inc. Magazine, I ran across the line you read in subject header: PRICING TELLS A STORY. Per Sjofors, managing partner at Atenga, is credited with saying that chewy line. He’s right … every price has a story.

There’s a story behind why Air Jordans are so expensive. By buying a pair of Air Jordans, a middle-aged rec-gym b-ball player can Be Like Mike. There is also a story behind the ultra-inexpensive Starbury shoe. The Starbury shoe story tells us we do not need to get caught up in all the hype and dole out a fortune for a pair of basketball sneakers.

There’s a story that goes along with the price for dining at PF Chang’s. You revel in the experience of enjoying family, friends, food, and attentive service from the PF Changs waitstaff. But there is also the story of paying for an equally-tasty and less expensive meal at Pei Wei. The pricing story Pei Wei tells us is about delivering great Asian-inspired food without the pretense of a full-service restaurant like its sibling, PF Chang’s.

There’s a story behind Wendy’s 99-cent Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger. Might not be an interesting story, but a story nonetheless. The Quadruple Bypass Burger from the Heart Attack Grill has an interesting story to go along with its higher price. We’re talking a hamburger experience of eating 8,000 calories and if you and your arteries can survive the gluttony, you’ll be wheelchaired out to your car by a nurse-attired Heart Attack Grill employee.

Pricing is one of the shortest shortcuts a company can take in telling a story about its products. So … what story is your pricing telling customers?