The price of a doodle and squeak

A dark dark night and a screaming baby. It is 3am. You know the little one needs a dose of Calpol but you have just dropped it on the floor. How much would you pay for another bottle at that precise moment?

Or, perhaps, how much for a flatbed on an overnight flight before the most important interview of your life? Is a £1m bonus for someone who has built a new management team, given the business positive PR and added £15m to the bottom line worth it? A short term, Wonga loan to pay for car repairs after the bank has refused an increased overdraft may be cheap if your car is integral to your life.

As a buyer, value depends on what is important to you-generally and also at that specific moment.

As a seller, the key thing is to think deeply about these buyer motivations and incorporate them into your price conversation.

But one thing is always true: if the seller makes the primary focus the number (price), it means the buyer will not be encouraged see what really matters (value).

Two people and two stories with two different, unordinary ways to highlight the value of their product…

Picasso, in the autumn of his life, was enjoying a glass of wine at his favourite bistro in Paris. At this point he was approached by an elegant, middle aged Parisian woman who recognised the artist. She flattered the ladies’ man and asked that he should draw a portrait of her, to which he reluctantly agreed.Picasso Lady

Taking a napkin and pen, he started sketching. A short time afterwards he was finished and handed his work to the lady. She was thrilled and asked him what she should pay him. Picasso answered 50 francs-an enormous sum at the time. ‘But that is outrageous’, replied the woman, ‘it has barely taken you five minutes’. ‘No mademoiselle,’ he replied, ‘it has taken me a lifetime’.

A gentleman owned a large Victorian house in Manchester. With period features, it also had the original flooring throughout with one annoying, squeaky floorboard in the master bedroom. Despite engaging several reputable builders, they had all failed to fix the offending plank. However, he had had a recommendation from his local greengrocer who insisted the carpenter in question would fix things.

A grey haired chap arrived in a clapped out van, overalls which had seen better days, and a bag of tools which looked the oldest of all. A man of few words, he enquired about the problem and made his way up to the first floor bedroom. The homeowner pressed his foot down to demonstrate the offending noise. With a short nod, the carpenter went over to the window and looked up and down the street. He looked around the room. He then walked back, lay face down on the floorboard and breathed in deeply. Finally, he walked up to the second floor and sat and listened quietly on the steps.

NailAt this point the homeowner was seriously wondering why he was wasting his time. Before he could say anything, the carpenter rose and walked back into the bedroom. He took a large nail and hammer from his bag and knocked it straight into the floorboard. Bang. He then pressed down. Squeak. The homeowner was not surprised-the others had tried exactly the same thing. The next moment the carpenter walked right across to the other side of the room, far away from the squeaky board. ‘Now what is he doing?’, he thought. Taking another long nail, he knocked it into the floor with a single large tap. He walked back to the floorboard and pressed down. No squeak, no noise.

As he put his hammer back in his bag the owner thanked him and asked the carpenter what he owed. The old man replied that it would be £100. “But you have only hammered in two nails! How can it cost so much?” The carpenter took a dog eared pad, wrote an invoice and handed it over:

Cost of materials: £1
Knowing where to hit them: £99

I bet we all wish we could describe our own products and services in such a way.

It is not easy but our chances can be improved: we have to ensure our energy is focused less on the price we want to charge, and more on the value our product gives.

Which means it should be as easy as hammering a nail into a piece of wood. Or sketching a doodle on a napkin.

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | Putting your customers at the heart of the decision

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 216548You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook,  and Twitter @consultingchris.

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