How Stories Can Be Used To Demand Higher Fees


Update, June 2019: I pulled this blog article from a prior website I created, because I love this concept so much. It applies to authorities and thought leaders. Writing stories and telling stories is crucial in getting your voice heard (and selling your services for more $$$).

I was totally inspired when Tara McMullin passed along a Harvard Business Review article which offered a new way to consider pricing and worth. Here’s a snippet:

Pricing strategy usually follows one of four tracks. Bottom up: calculate the cost of everything that goes into making the product, and add a fair margin on top. Sideways in: analyze and adopt the price of competitors’ products. Top down: target a demographic or economic segment, and engineer the product to meet that price. Or dynamic: use a complex, real-time calculation to gauge supply and demand, usually with the help of an algorithm.

What you almost never hear about is a fifth track, which I call story analysis: an analysis of a product’s capabilities to fulfill a profound human need, to tell a story that gives your customers’ lives richer meaning.

For those of you who enjoy heady, thought-provoking content, I think you’ll enjoy the full article immensely.

Rather read the Cliff Notes translation, instead? Here goes…

Every entrepreneur I get the pleasure of talking with about how to raise prices worries about losing clients when/if they decide to hike their fees. And it’s for good reason if prices are raised on a whim without considering a shift in marketing and human connections, too.

The author uses an example of a very powerful test of storytelling to suggest that giving humans a story to connect with, one that inspires them, elevates that product’s worth. Details about what is offered in the product tells a human what is included and what the product’s make-up is. But telling a story about the product and what the product means to a customer shows other humans the value the product brings to one’s life. The story further elevates the value of the product.

The author compared two toasters when he remarked:

What makes one cost $20 and another cost $400 when they both heat up bread?

Back in the summer of 2006, New York Times Magazine columnist Rob Walker was mulling the question of what makes one object more valuable than another. In fact, he thought this was such an interesting idea he started The Significant Objects Project.

Walker bought small objects at thrift stores and tag sales. He spent between $1-4 on each object on average, and then he posted each object to e-Bay. However, instead of text inside the e-Bay listing being about the object’s inclusions or flaws, he asked some writers to write made up stories about the objects. Not wanting to dupe buyers, he made sure each writer included some text about the story being made up.

On average, the value of the objects rose 2,700%. A miniature jar of mayonnaise he had purchased for less than a dollar sold for $51.00. A cracked ceramic horse head purchased for $1.29 sold for $46.00. I have to admit, this reminded me of a very popular retailer who does a magical job at this for each of their products, as well.

Lawn care companies are being challenged by the kid around the corner willing to cut the neighborhood’s lawns for twenty bucks cheaper. The high end salon in town is challenged by Hair Cuttery’s tag, “A Good Haircut Is A Good Haircut.”

You are clearly drawn to stories. I am, too. So if you aren’t telling them already, start trying. And then play around and raise prices a bit. New, enriching stories on your website and social platforms that connect humans and elevate your offering’s worth will become distorted if viewers then see that your services are low-cost. So raise prices a bit, then tell more stories.

Here’s a little checklist of where to test out some story writing:

1. Does your “About” page connect to people in a way that allows them to relate to your business’s “why”?

2. Do your social media posts include stories more than announcing things?

3. Do your blog posts report on what happened or do they tell a meaningful story about what happened (or even better, what could happen if the reader works with you)?

Reply below and let me know what you’re thinking of telling a story about. Happy to answer questions and inspire.

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