How to raise your prices without losing customers using the triplicate of choice
Love to earn more from your business or freelance work, but worried a price increase will scare people off? Find out how you can raise your prices without losing customers using the powerful triplicate of choice.
Increasing your prices is always a scary prospect in business or as a freelancer. What if you price yourself out of the market? What if your customers decide to go elsewhere? How can you know what the right price even is?
It’s understandable worries like these that leaves people sticking to outdated pricing (that probably was too low in the first place) year after year – and earning even less, year after after year as a result.
But what’s the solution? Just jump in with new pricing and hope for the best? Not necessarily. You don’t have to risk your business or freelance career with a ‘like it or lump it’ one off price increase. Instead you can use a clever strategy to let the market set the true price of your worth.
What does this mean? Let’s put it another way: the only way to really know what the appropriate price for your products or services is, is to put it to the market and let your customers or clients decide.
And this is easier than you think using a strategy called the ‘triplicate of choice’. The triplicate of choice enables you to test out different pricing strategies without pricing yourself out of the market. It also has some big benefits that your customers or clients will love too.
How the triplicate of choice works
So what is the triplicate of choice? Basically it involves creating a range of options of packages (usually three, hence the ‘triplicate’ for your customers or clients to choose from.
To explain how it works, let’s take the example of an accountant. If you are an accountant, right now you might offer something like this:
You offer a service doing the end of year books for small companies, and you charge £500 for it. Your position at the moment is basically ‘take it or leave it’. With this offering, you’re not catering to the segment of the market that will always want and can afford, MORE or BETTER. You’ve got nothing to offer these people. All you have is one straightforward service.
Now imagine instead you use the triplicate of choice, and add two more packages to your offering. This time, when you introduce your service, you DON’T just say ‘we do end of year books and the cost is £500’. Instead, you might present something that looks more like this:
And you might say something like this to your clients:
“With our top service, we do your end of year books. Plus we’ll do all the statutory submissions to HMRC. We’ll guarantee you a two-day turnaround and we’ll give you our special ‘Super Saver’ report where we identify at least £500 of potential annual cost savings through efficiencies we know about through working closely with other clients just like you. The fee for all of this is just £1,000 and naturally, like all our packages, it’s tax deductible.
“If your budget doesn’t quite run to that, we also have a service where we’ll do the end of year books, and all the statutory submissions to HMRC. And we’ll guarantee the two-day turnaround, so the time you spend distracted by this is absolutely minimal. We can do this for just £750.
“Finally, if you’re on a budget and just want our great basic service, we’ll do your end of year books, we’ll turn them around in two weeks max, and the fee is just £500.”
Now we’re not accountants, and the ‘added value’ variables will of course change with your business, but can you see the difference? In scenario one you only have one option to offer clients. And they can either buy that or go elsewhere.
In the second scenario you give them a range of options. They can still stick with your basic option if they wish; you haven’t priced them out of your business. But if they can afford and would like more from you, they can choose that too. do you see the point?
You can use the triplicate of choice just as well when presenting project work as for presenting ongoing contracts. It also works in product businesses, for example by adding in gift wrapping, faster or tracked delivery, bundled complementary products and other benefits.
Five reasons why the triplicate of choice works
So why is the triplicate of choice so powerful? There are five important reasons why the triplicate of choice works so well.
1) It uses anchoring
First it uses anchoring, which is a well-established psychological principle. By presenting the most expensive option first, the cheaper options naturally seem more reasonable.
2) It allows for aspiration
The second reason is it allows for aspiration. As we’ve talked about, a portion of every market will always choose the highest priced option, because people buy to express their own self-image.
Think about it: why does somebody buy a Rolls Royce? It’s not JUST to get them from A to B, because any clapped-out second hand car would do that. When someone buys a Rolls Royce, there’s something else going on in that decision, isn’t there?
And when you use this format, if a customer or client generally wants the best possible option, and is happy to pay more for it, you have now given them this choice – they can now get your very best level of service.
3) We tend to choose the middle option
The third reason the triplicate of choice can be so powerful is that you’ll find that in many cases, a lot of people gravitate towards the middle option, because that’s just what people tend to do.
4) It gives people choice
The fourth reason why you should do this is that it gives your clients or customers CHOICE, and gives them a feeling of control. With this, you’re not just presenting them with one option and saying ‘buy this or buy nothing,’ are you? Instead you’re offering several options.
5) You can test higher prices without risk
And finally, the triplicate of choice enables you to properly test higher levels of pricing, without worrying about losing your customers or clients, because if you’re nervous, you can keep your existing price in place with the lower level package.
Don’t just assume your pricing is right – test it!
This is a powerful strategy when used properly, but the most important takeaway I’d love you to get from this is don’t just assume you’ve got your pricing right. You’ll never earn a good profit from your business if you don’t KNOW what you should be charging, and are actively getting paid it from happy, satisfied customers and clients.
A triplicate of choice case study
To give you an example of how well the triplicate of choice can work when applied, I’m going to tell you the story of Laura Harmsworth, from Caversham CV Writing.
When I started working with Laura, she only had one pricing option, and that was so low that, when she factored in the number of hours she worked on each CV, Laura – a highly experienced professional – was earning less than minimum wage.
So we reviewed Laura’s clientele and conducted extensive market research to see what other CV writers were charging and offering in terms of packages. Rather than appeal to ‘everyone’ (a classic marketing mistake), we identified the clients Laura liked working with most, and put together a triplicate of choice. In Laura’s case we also added a fourth, smaller option for people earlier in their career.
In addition to creating more choice for her clients, we also put Laura’s prices up considerably. She was initially nervous about the price increase, but trusted the process. And that trust paid off, as Laura has been fully booked frequently over the past three years (she’s also increased her prices each year, as I recommended).
Laura’s price increase was needed, as she now earns an appropriate amount for the quality of the service she offers, the time she spends on each client and her experience. And by using the triplicate of choice, she was able to implement it and not just keep her clients, but actually expand her business and win new clients – some of whom would have been put off before by her lower rates and lack of options.
How can YOU use the triplicate of choice?
So how can you use the triplicate of choice? If you have 20 minutes spare now, grab a pen and paper, or open up a document on your laptop and brainstorm some ideas. Work out what else you could add to your basic service that would have value for your clients or customers.
How can you give people MORE? That can be more attention… more hand-holding… more quality… more speed… But there’s one big caveat with the triplicate of choice: you must always make sure you DO provide genuine value.
This is NOT about adding any old rubbish to pad out a couple more pricing options. Instead you need to think very carefully about what your customers or clients really need or want from you, what would have true value for them, and how you can best package that value up for them.
When you’ve put together your options, then think about price. How much are they worth to your customers? There’s got to be a significant enough difference between each option AND the price in order for the triplicate of choice to work.
Why? Because, according to research at Yale, if you price different products too similarly you trigger something called analysis paralysis, where people are so afraid of making the wrong decision, they get trapped in the analysis phase, and end up choosing nothing.
By having distinct price levels, you are signifying that there’s a difference between your packages and they can choose the ‘better’ one or the cheaper one – making it easier for people to decide and, as a result, make a purchase.
Create your triplicate of choice today
So what new packages and pricing options can you introduce to YOUR business or freelancer services? The sooner you create your own triplicate of choice, the sooner you can test out your pricing, give your customers greater choice, and enable you or your business to earn more.
Photo by Daria Mamont