Normal Marketing Mistake: Pricing

Why does it seem like our “preferences” are being used against us? Like taxes pricing is often used to help people make choices, but it’s also a normal marketing mistake companies make.

customer service
Are they really charging more for this?

I just read that airlines are now charging an extra fee to sit in a window or aisle seat. US Airways is charging between $5 and $30 for this service. From an economic standpoint, I guess it narrows down who really wants to sit in those seats – but does it also narrow down the passengers who even want to fly?

The last fee US Airways (and others) levied was a raised $25 for a second checked bag. It’s almost as if they’ve forgotten that it’s the customer who they”re trying to please – not the stock holders.

For a while customer service was going the right direction. When consumers said we want things done faster, businesses responded. It seems like this trend started with the credit card companies and the swipe machines that you now do yourself. And then it was the gas stations and their pay-at-the-pump machines, and then grocery stores that added self-checkout cash registers.

Unlike the airline plan, these are all new advances that we’re not even being charged for. (I know we are, but it’s not like it’s cheaper to pay inside the gas station). To start charging customers for things that aren’t new, advanced, special or better is just plain wrong. It’s your typical, normal marketing mistake.

So in your business, take a look at what your customers love about you, your website, your business. Then give them more of it. If you’re using the “Ladder of value”, you certainly can charge more money for more stuff – but don’t think that applies to the level and volume of service or products you’re giving them now.

If you find out your customers really like your information, don’t automatically turn that information into a paid “membership site”. While your clientele might not figure out at first, they will at some point. Instead create the “membership site” with more of what they love already. More videos. More articles. More workshops. More analysis.

More. More. More.

Remember, money is just paper. That’s it. It’s really, really high-tech paper with green ink on it. It’s only worth something to you and me because¬† Money = Work. The only way you can charge more money is if you put more work into the outcome. You might be able to get away with it for a while.

Raising prices should be something you can write a press release about. Raising the price today for the same service you gave me yesterday gives you nothing in terms of marketing. But give me more along with that price increase and now you’ve got a unique difference.

If you don’t make “progress” along with your price increses,¬† eventually someone is going to figure out that you don’t really care about your audience. And that’s when you’ll see notes on Facebook and Twitter that say “The airlines are now charging extra money to sit down.” What CEO is going to love that?

Contrast that with this: “My favorite airline just added comfier seats. It cost a little more – but it’s well worth it”.


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4 Responses to “Normal Marketing Mistake: Pricing”

  1. August 19, 2010

    Ken Montville

    I just did my online check in for my trip to NAMS 4 and, sure enough, Air Tran was offering me “premium” seats at the exit rows and at the front of the plane. Thye charged me $15.00 for one checked bag (one way) and were even offering me “premium” boarding vs general boarding even though I now had an assigned seat.


  2. August 12, 2010

    Ken Montville

    Interesting concept. Can I pay double to fly on a plane that is crying baby-free?

  3. August 12, 2010


    There’s really no difference between charging extra to get on early vs charging extra to sit in an aisle seat. If Southwest thinks it’s addinf value, think again. Both accomplish the same thing: the guy who has the means and wants it most gets it. Capitalism.

    What I think would have been more “consumer friendly” is if the airlines made the least fussy flyers pay the least. If you don’t have bags and you don’t care where you sit, you get $35 off. If you have bags but don’t care, you get $10 off. You care and you have bags – full price!

    And if you’re willing to hold the crying babies. . . you fly free!

    But, Ken, as to your comment about raising the price – why don’t downtown hotels do that and tell you it’s free parking? Free sure does sound better than “fee”. I agree wholeheartedly.

  4. August 12, 2010

    Ken Montville

    God knows that the middle seat is its own special version of hell. This is especially true of people who are, er, circumferentially challenged, such as myself.

    Southwest is taking this from a different angle by adding $10 to the “early bird” or “A List” seating. Pay a little extra or fly a lot and you get on the plane early enough to grab an aisle or window.

    My view is to just raise the price. It’s marketing mumbo jumbo to tack on fees for various services that were once part of the price of the ticket.

    Your larger point is right on. Creating more value for your client without all the smoke and mirrors creates a type of loyalty that will eventually turn into dollars.

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