How My Antique Bookcase Taught Me a Pricing Lesson
We recently had a lively conversation in our Create 6-Figure Courses forum on “How do you price what you are worth?” Here’s how…
When I moved into my new home, I found myself needing to let go of some beautiful antiques that didn’t fit. I called an upscale furniture consignment store in our area and learned that the store typically prices furniture at 50% of their actual value. The seller then receives 60% of the sale price.
So, if a piece of furniture is worth $1000, consignment marks it at $500. When it sells, the seller gets 60% of the sale price=$300.
I did some quick math and realized this meant my bookcase that appraised for $3000 would be marked with a price tag of $1500 and, assuming it sold for that, I would only get $900.
I would, at best, get $900 for $3000 of value.
That seemed crazy to me. Liz, the lovely store owner, tried to assure me by saying, “This is the pricing all consignment stores position at. You don’t want to go too high because no one will buy it.”
I hung up the phone and remembered reading about a fascinating experiment called the Significant Objects Project created by writers Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn. Essentially, they took insignificant objects and attached a back story to them before marketing the item on eBay.
The writers transformed an item like “…an ugly, plastic Russian doll with a big cloth mustache — and turned it into something valuable by simply adding a back story. And it seems to be working. They hired a writer named Doug Dorst to come up with a story for that little $3 doll — and they put it up on eBay. The winning bid? $193.”
I decided to conduct my own Significant Objects experiment.
I wrote a “backstory” for my 1860’s Oak bookcase based on the information the appraiser shared with me. I knew the piece was handmade in the 1860’s in England.
The backstory was short and sweet and fit on an index card to be taped to the bookcase:
“This rare and unusual Victorian bookcase was built in the 1860’s in England likely in one of the many wood crafting shops typical of that era. It had to travel for months across the choppy seas of the Atlantic ocean by freight ship to find its home here in America. Can’t you imagine the soft and warm color of the wood glowing by lamplight as its new owner sat in her library reading one of the leather-bound classics just pulled from the shelf? This well-loved piece will bring history and warmth to any room in your home.”
When I delivered the bookcase, I also delivered the marketing copy to the consignment store. I said to Liz, “Humor me. Let’s try pricing this at $2900 and see what happens.”
Guess what? It sold for $2900.
If you are worried about pricing your offers too high and you find yourself undervaluing your time, it’s important to remember that value is based on the significance your clients put on the work they will do together with you.
Here is how you establish significance:
Part 1: Get Clear on the Problem You Are Solving for Your Audience
What is the problem you are solving?
What value does solving this problem bring to your audience? This is how you connect to the significance of your work.
For example, for the bookcase, I thought about what “problem” it could be solving for the person looking to add new antiques to their home. They want to add history and more warmth to their space. Without a backstory, the only criteria a potential buyer could evaluate the bookcase on was price — there was no connection to what the person was looking for.
How are you uniquely qualified to help your audience solve this problem?
Part 2: Weave the Stories Into Every Part of Your Marketing
You have to weave this connection to significance into every part of your marketing.
Ask yourself: What do I need to convey when I create and launch my offers so that my clients can see the significance, the meaning, and the immense value in the work we will do together?
This is the entire point of your launch: to create a dialogue with your ideal clients that explores the meaning of the work you will do together.
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