How we help people choose the middle option

value pricing Feb 26, 2018

Making the middle option top choice

I often talk about menu pricing and the power of three. It’s truly powerful stuff. It’s the fact that when faced with three options people tend to gravitate towards the middle option.

And it works with pricing too.

So you might only currently offer one package – your tax return package for example. By adding more services and creating two other packages you will find that many will choose to pay you more by going for the middle, and therefore more expensive, option rather than your basic package.

But how do we get them to do that?

There are things you can do to prompt your customers to pick that middle option but essentially it boils down to one thing. Social proof. It’s something we learn from Dr Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: Science and Practice. Social proof is one of the six main laws of influence. It is defined as follows: “As humans we are lazy when it comes to decision making. When it comes to making decisions we often look around at everybody else and follow the crowd.”

This is evident by people’s use of Amazon – or any site that has customer reviews. Customers can see what their peers have bought and what they recommend and will often make their purchasing decisions based upon that.

It’s the safe option and it makes social proof really, really powerful.

1) The power of persuasion

You can help it along. When presenting your three options and you are describing the middle one mention the fact that it’s usually the most popular and that the majority of people choose that option.  What you will find is that your customers will think that if other people are choosing that option then they probably should too.

2) Get your description right

Pricing is marketing, so how you describe your packages is vital. Remember that you are trying to sell.

You could choose three star, four star, five star to rate your menu pricing. Or you could go for something like bronze, silver, gold – the latter perhaps being a little more powerful.

Don’t under estimate how important your choice of words can be. Another way could be describing the middle option as the full option. For example, when doing annual accounts you could have the cheapest option as an entry, or essentials account package.

By default the middle package, the fuller package, now sounds more complete. It’s the better solution.

3) Use the tick list technique

Another powerful way to persuade customers to trade up is the tick box technique.

In this you present your three options as a series of columns. Ticks and crosses mark the services that they do and don’t get with that package. It’s visual and powerful.

So, if you want most people to go for the middle option think about the visual element – and balance the ticks and crosses accordingly.It doesn’t have to be that those extra features are that valuable in themselves.

The power of the visual element – i.e. a column that has lots of ticks compared to an entry level option that might have only three or four ticks but lots of crosses – will be enough.

Find out how to help persuade your customers to choose the middle option by watching this video.




You can watch the video here.

If you found this post helpful, then do please share it with your friends and colleagues.  You can also get more help on pricing in my video training programme A Systems Approach to Value Pricing .  I'd be more than happy to give you a free copy as a thank-you for reading this post!

Wishing you every success on your pricing journey

Mark Wickersham
Chartered Accountant, public speaker and #1 best-selling author of
Effective Pricing for Accountants

"A Practical Approach To Value Pricing"

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