By Lynn Swayze

January 20, 2020

price, price strategy, pricing

Have you ever heard the following from a customer…?

  • I can’t afford this.
  • Your [product/service] is out of budget.
  • You are too expensive.
  • I’m going to go with a cheaper option.

    If you’ve seen or heard any of these, then this post is for you.
    Here are the sobering, heart-stopping truths about price psychology…

Truth #1: Price issues are never about price.

When I first started freelancing, I had a hard time selling myself. I kept getting caught up in the usual things that tripped me up… namely, I kept focusing on me and my skillsmy experiencemy background.
Thing is… no one cares about that.

No one cares about me personally. They don’t care how I do my copywriting, or what I used to train for it, or any of that stuff.

They don’t care about the technology.
They don’t care about the tools you or I use.
They don’t even care about the superiority of a method.

Your customers only care about how wonderful their life will be once their problem is solved.

The only thing your customer wants to be sold on is how great their life will be post-solution. They don’t want to know how you did it, really. Even if they’re buying a how-to guide, they don’t want to hear you talk about how you produced that lead magnet using a voice-to-speech software and then published it via a premier publishing company and then shipped it via Samcart. They don’t even care if it’s 30 pages or 150. They want to know how well whatever it is you’re offering will tie into their results.

There are three things you must prove:

  1. You are trustworthy
  2. You understand their problem exactly
  3. Your service / your product can solve their problem better (read: faster, more ROI, less work) than doing nothing, buying from a competitor, or doing it themselves

So if your entire pitch was about you… 
…how you would technically execute the solution
…your years of experience or certifications
…how much passion you have about the job

Instead of about your prospect’s end result…
…the kind of life he will live using your product or service
…how easy he would solve his problem using your service (as shown through testimonials)

Then you are likely losing sales. 

Truth #2: There are three reasons people use price as an excuse

There are only three reasons that people have when they use price as an excuse.

Reason 1: They cannot actually afford your service.

Sometimes, people will look into your service because they do have a problem, but they’re still in research mode.
They don’t know anything about you or your price or what you do.

Sometimes they’re just looking.

They may not be ready to buy. So if they say they can’t afford it…maybe they literally cannot afford it.

Or maybe, they’re not your ideal buyer.

If you’ve built out a buyer persona and you’re targeting a specific customer, then your price will fit that buyer persona. By definition, a person who cannot afford your service is not your ideal buyer. Period.

Stay top of mind with this person (through retargeting, lower-price hands off products, and regular email marketing) but DO NOT lower your price because then you’re lowering your value.

They will not value you more because you gave them a discount.
Therefore, do not lower your price to win a sale.

If you really think this project or customer is a good fit, the best thing you can do is to continue to offer proof.

Offer hope that will get them thinking about their life after hiring you. Plant that seed.

Let them see your product as a sure investment in their future.

So let’s say someone cannot afford a product, but you know that they will make the money back quickly. If you can absolutely guarantee that they’ll make money, make sure that you’re reducing their risk so it’s a no-brainer that they will no matter what make that money back very, very quickly.

Make sure you’ve highlighted your guarantee. Offer them payment plans.

But don’t ever, ever reduce your value by discounting.

Reason 2:  They do not value your service or the end result.

Some prospects want results without investing anything. They expect the moon but don’t respect your time or expertise.

These prospects haven’t done their research about what you do or how you help.

They don’t know how much work it takes to become an expert in [whatever you do] like you have.

They don’t know (or care) how long it takes you to do what you do.

And they certainly don’t want to invest in their own end result.

So they want to 10X their income but don’t want to put in the 10% it’d take up front?

In my mind I’m pretty sure they don’t want it bad enough.

Let’s take a look at my own story, shall we?

So far I’ve invested $25,000+ in my copywriting training, in website building, books, etc. My mission is to make millions for my clients. Is $25K worth what I will be able to make my clients with that knowledge? Hell freakin’ yes.

Your prospects should be the same way. If they want the moon, they better be willing to pay for a rocket ship.

If you see these prospects…RUN.

These types of clients and customers are terrible.


  • Will question you constantly
  • Will redo what you’ve done or disrespect your time and effort
  • Don’t actually know what they’re talking about but will talk down to you anyway
  • Will ask for refunds unnecessarily
  • Will complain constantly about the very things others gush about
  • Won’t recommend you to others or provide a referral

The best thing to do here is not sign them up.

And if you can, figure out what attracted them in the first place and disqualify them faster and earlier in the sales process.

Reason 3: You have not proven how what you do ties into their results and how it’s worth what you charge.

The good thing about reason number three is that it’s in your control.

Unlike the other ones which rely on your prospect, this one you can fix.

So if you’ve built a buyer persona and know your prospect well…. You shouldn’t have this problem.

If prospects who have the budget and value the outcome are not choosing you it’s because you haven’t sold yourself well.

What do you do?

Go back through all of your sales materials, your website, and your proposal and pull out every selfish, I-focused bit. Pull out all the feature-only content and rewrite it so that every “feature” has a so what attached to it.

Because remember, people buy for emotional reasons and justify with logic.

Honestly, this is why copywriting is so freaking hard and is so expensive.

Copywriting which pulls the emotional strings and sells without turning someone off is very, very difficult.

Truth #3: Price is a marketing strategy, so use it like one

Your pricing tells the world more than you think. It tells the world what you think of yourself. And it tells the world who you help.

First, pricing tells the world what you think of yourself

If you believe actual core that what you do is valuable and will benefit your customer then it is your obligation to sell it and if you believe that what you do is valuable and you will charge a price that is commiserate with that value when you charge to low you’re saying that you don’t believe that it’s any good.

Second, your price tells the world what you think of money.

If you’ve never made more than $1000 a month in your entire life, you’re going to feel shame selling a product or service for $1500 or $3000 or $10,000. Have you only made $250,000 as an entrepreneur? You’d likely choke at pitching a $350K project.

Your price reflects your own inner barriers if you let it.

This is why most of the top names in the industry raised prices incrementally….
…and also why each of them will recommend mindset books such as “Think and Grow Rich” and what-not to new followers.

Your mindset is everything.

Pricing fails happen when you get stuck on yourself.

Most people price to please themselves instead of the prospect.
Let’s say you sell to enterprise customers:

Do you think a company like Microsoft or Dell is going to take you seriously when you charge $150 per white paper…. Instead of the $1500-$7000 the industry charges?

Or $15 per hour to consult on business marketing?

The answer, of course, is no.

Your client knows that if you really understood the market….
and really understood the amount of work it took to produce a white paper….

And you really knew what a good white paper could do for a company’s lead generation efforts…

That you’d charge a good rate for it.

While you personally might not be able to afford to hire someone at $3000 to write a lead magnet, it doesn’t mean that your prospect can’t.

By focusing on you and your limitations instead of who your prospect is, what their budget is, and what their expectations are, you are missing out.

Your pricing must reflect the your ideal buyer’s expections.

Note, that you won’t meet everyone’s expectations. You shouldn’t!

Your goal is to sell someone very, very specific buyer a very specific outcome. That outcome… that happiness… has a price tag.

Find it, prove it, and then own it.

Remember, your price is not about you.

Third, your price tells the world who you help.

Let’s go back to the example of Microsoft. If you are a white paper writer, your market is pretty wide. Companies of all sizes need white papers written:

  • Small startups just barely launched
  • Enterprise IT companies who make millions in revenue
  • Software Development firms who’ve been in business for 25 years
  • Etc…

Now, if you price at $10,000 white paper you are essentially saying that you only work with clients who have a big budget and who get big revenue out of the lead magnet that you generate. You’re also saying that you’ll only work with clients who deeply value and need what you produce.

See how that works? It’s not about how hard or easy it is for you to write it.

It’s about the results and how your customers perceive you.

Your price should be one way that you disqualify bad leads so you can qualify good ones.

Your price is a marketing strategy. Use it as such.

Lynn Swayze

About the Author

My  name is Lynn Swayze and I'm a direct response copywriter on a mission to help Visionary Entrepreneurs discover how to live an abundant life of their own choosing by being authentic and embracing their unique 11 Marketing Factors™. Through free resources, training, and masterminds, I help offer owners create better products, design better services, and scale their business to 7 figures and beyond. Join the Free Marketing Vault Today.

  • Lynn – this is a real conversation on Upwork between me and a client – I’d love to hear your thoughts … and any way around this type of situation …
    [10/10/2016 8:41:10 PM] Collin Plume: Gary, Agreed on all fronts. I will be brief and let you know what we need. 12 drip emails with a new opening email that accompanies the kit. The introductory email that you received needs to have the spin and tone that you reflected above.
    [10/10/2016 8:46:33 PM] Collin Plume: We have many many many more campaigns and work for you to do. What is your best price for this first drip campaign? After this campaign here is what we are looking to do. We are going to update our website and need better content as you suggested. We also need campaign ideas and funnels with more emails. Let us know and we are looking to move forward on this.
    [10/10/2016 10:36:29 PM] Gary Cooper: Collin – Hi
    Glad you liked the plan and the email.
    I would love to do these jobs for you – my rate is just under $70 an hour.
    I am presuming that you would like to do this as a set rate for each job – rather than on an hourly basis?
    I would estimate that for each email, two hours would be enough to assimilate the information, make notes, draft an outline, and write a rough draft. I would then need to hone that and edit it – sometimes this comes quickly – sometimes it doesn’t – I think two hours would cover this. I verify my headlines using software which checks for readability, the balance of common, uncommon, emotional and power words – it also examines the length of the character and word count to grade the ideal headline – this is how the “Allure of gold” headline was checked for its likely response.
    I would then send you the finalized rough draft – and there is always some back-and-forth – I will do as many revisions and alterations as you need until you are happy with it, and advise you, as I have done, based on my experience, as to what I think might be your best approach. I work best this way – and by collaborating between us I am sure we can come up with some great content and copy.
    I will often ask questions which you may sometimes find bizarre – real research is what wins customers – my aim is always, with your help, to get inside the mind of your prospects and try to work out their triggers and needs and wants. Nobody knows your clients better than you do.
    The foremost promotions usually have unique hooks, offers or solutions developed through the research phase.
    I am fair and truthful about the time I spend on projects – the actual writing is fairly fast – it is the planning, knowing what to put in where, injecting the pulls and psychology into it, and the editing down, which always takes the time.
    Finally, all I ask of my clients is honesty in all of our dealings – it is pointless once an email is sent or a website set up – to say “I never did like that – I wish I had said something at the time!”
    So; given all that – based on 13 emails in total – at 2 hours each – say 1/2 hour each, for revisions, queries, problems, rewrites, etc. gives us 30 hours of work at $69.97 – $2,099.10
    I assure you that should I have underestimated the time spent – I will honor this rate. Equally, if I find that it is taking less time than I thought I will let you know so that you can adjust the payment accordingly.
    I hope that this is in order, but should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get back to me.
    Best regards
    [10/10/2016 11:15:50 PM] Collin Plume: Gary, you do have some great ideas and I would like to work with you. 2 hours per email is far too long. We are very far away in terms of budget. And our long-term goal is to have you on all of our projects going forward. We want to revise our investors guide, create an ebook for our affliates to us, and we have 2 different campaigns that we are looking to implement soon. Content is the name of the game right now for our referral partners so you will have consistent business with us. But we are a startup and if you work with us as we grow to a 100 million dollar revenue company we will have no issue paying those fee’s. But until we get our revenue up we cannot afford that cost. thank you for your time.
    [10/10/2016 11:20:06 PM] Gary Cooper: OK – my rates were no secret when you initially looked at my profile and invited me to apply.
    I know that those hours are accurate.
    Having said that I like the idea behind this and the projects look very interesting – so – what would you suggest?
    [10/10/2016 11:38:48 PM] Collin Plume: We put a budget of $1,000 for the project. And once this is done we move to the next projects. We are not baiting you in with other projects there will be consistent work for you. We are actually going to modify the website and we are working on the visuals to make it more splashy. So we are going to want more content for the site also. Charles and I love your work and I know that you benefit from this relationship.
    [10/10/2016 11:46:08 PM] Gary Cooper: Why not! Alright – let’s do it …
    I need to let you know that I cannot look at this until Wednesday and am away from Friday through the weekend – normally I am always around.
    [10/10/2016 11:48:27 PM] Collin Plume: Ok. Let us know when you are ready to start.
    [10/10/2016 11:49:18 PM] Gary Cooper: As I say – I can start on Wednesday if that suits …
    [10/10/2016 11:51:03 PM] Collin Plume: Oh I thought next Wednesday. Yes that would be great. What do you need to get moving?
    [10/10/2016 11:55:58 PM] Collin Plume: also please give me your email again?

      • It is a brand new start-up. They had earmarked the $1,000 and had no leeway to make it more – I looked on it as a loss leader – they have more work, and if I got in with them, I would hope that my work is good enough for them to want to come back to me each time.
        The revenue is a projection – so until it happens – it really isn’t worth a bean …
        Regarding expectations, I think they are hoping to break even – then review everything

        • Unfortunately, they are likely to always underpay you. I totally agree on the “The revenue is a projection – so until it happens – it really isn’t worth a bean..”
          People find the money for the things they want to purchase, especially for business purposes. And if it goes wrong, they’ll complain that since they got you at a discount, that it was your fault that things went wrong. Or they’ll pay and won’t implement. There are usually mental hangups associated with clients like this.

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