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Everything I know about marketing I learned in kindergarten

OK, well to be honest, it isn’t that I learned it when I was in kindergarten. But my son taught it to me when he was in kindergarten. He’s 16 now and wants to major in business in college, but he knew a lot about business when he was five. I will always like the way he explained it: “The gooder it is, the spendier it is.” You can figure out what he was saying, in his Yogi-esque way. Better stuff just costs more. Period.

Now we could spend a lot of time and spill a lot of pixels over economic theories that say that marketers can charge more for products that have more demand, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about how price is used as a signal of a product’s value. My five-year-old got the message.

For all the talk about how marketing is comprised of the 4 P’s, one of which is price, I don’t find that marketers hold their resolve over price. I am constantly seeing price used as an attention-getter: “10% off until Friday” or “Buy one, get one free.” But that is not the only way to use price–maybe not even the best way.

Are those $95 jeans really better than the $40 ones? How about that $50 bottle of perfume? What about that expensive new restaurant–worth it? You might say, “No, none of them are worth it. There are better options that cost less.”

But their prices are signals of their value. It is a shorthand for what they are worth. The assumption is that they couldn’t get away with charging that much if they weren’t worth it. That’s pricing as a signal.

Do you, as a marketer, use pricing as a signal? I find that most of my clients could probably charge more. Their customers need them and like them. So why don’t they charge more?

Because it takes bravery. It’s easier to charge less. No one dislikes you. No one complains. No one stops buying.

But if you raise your prices, all of those things happen to you. It’s uncomfortable.

Do you have the guts to be uncomfortable? It might make the difference between a dominating product and an also-ran. If your product is good–really good–shouldn’t you be charging a premium price?


Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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  1. Avatar Mick Kennys

    Thank you for saving this dull day! When i read the title I found that I am smiling first time today! 🙂

    I do not remember that I would be so wise like my little children are now. But yep – they are good learning materail when it comes to marketing 😉

  2. Avatar Monique

    That’s a very interesting point, but I got myself thinking about the opposite…
    In Brazil, for example, a lot of good brands always seem to be overpriced.

    I know we have to deal with taxes and all, but to me it’s a bit funny (I’d say dramatic if I worked in one of those companies) when I see a caompany selling a product with a high-end price and a campaign that’s not directed to the high-end public, like Maybelinne or Urban Decay.

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