The Magic of Tiered Pricing

The Magic of Tiered Pricing

Want more pricing help? This is day four of our five part series on pricing clients. You can find the rest of the articles on the Pricing Bootcamp splash page

The Benefits of Providing Pricing Tiers

Handing out a quote sends a few messages to the recipient, however subtle they may be.

  1. Establishes the number is not random, shows that each item has worth affecting the overall price tag.
  2. Allows the client to veto or accept a particular package, rather than the entire project.
  3. Demonstrates a willingness to work with the clients budget.

The Psychology of Choice

Let’s say that one day you wake up with a craving for an ice cream cone, consequently wander over to your local ice cream vendor, and see the follow sign:

  • $2.00 – Ice cream cone
  • $3.00 – Ice cream cone w/ sprinkles
  • $4.00 – Ice cream cone w/ sprinkles and fudge

So my ice cream goer, the options you see before you are a classic example of tiered pricing. While you may have come in with a general desire, an ice cream cone, you are now faced with unanticipated variations that also fill that need.

Ice Cream!

Assuming you enjoy everything on the menu, you might talk yourself into spending the extra dollar because you like sprinkles, not wanting the cheapest cone anymore because it is inferior for not having them. On the same note the middle option is also justified by the fact that it is not the most expensive choice, therefore you are saving another dollar by not choosing fudge and sprinkles.This is dubbed irrational decision making because no matter which ice cream you select, you are spending money, not saving it.

It is the fact that the options are displayed in tiered form that makes you believe that you are either saving or spending more money, it is all relative to the menu prices of this one particular ice cream shop. If you had come in to a menu which simply said “$3.00 for an ice cream cone”, none of this thought process would have taken place. You would have decided whether or not $3.00 was a fair price based solely on your idea of what fair means.

In the context of the web world, you  can strategically use tiers to control the clients definition of what an acceptable price range is for a project. Provide options so that instead of the client dwelling on spending $XXX, they appreciate saving $XXX by choosing the middle tier over the premium one.

Those curious for more on irrational decision making might be interested in a recently released TED Talk, where Dan Ariely addresses this idea.

Crafting Your Price Tiers

Crafting Your Tiers

Your tiers should be conducive to this kind of thought process, providing options and justifications for each. Each tier should have a substantial increase in benefits, and be a price that reflects your personal/company worth.

Economy Tier (Desired client feeling: Content, but still hungry)

Bare bones, functionality but not all the features and frills the client might necessarily want. It sets the baseline standard for the other tiers, but leave them wanting to move up a tier. This option is meant to accommodate clients that are interested, but might be very financially guarded and scared off by higher prices. It can serve to lay down a foundation for future work with the client, as a sort of “let’s start with this” beginning.

Standard Tier (Desired client feeling: Full, but still thinking about desert)

This should for all intents and purposes fulfill and the basic requests of the clients, making it exactly what they asked for. If they had mentioned being possibly being interested in a particularly complex feature, hold off putting that into this category, that’s premium material.

Premium Tier (Desired client feeling: Stuffed)

If the client asked for it, dreamed about it, or might want it – include it here. This is your “stretch goal” package, it serves to make the lower two seem more affordable and give lavish spenders a place to put their money.

Start Tinkering

The above outline for each tier is just a sample with which to build off of. There is no rule that says three tiers is the magic number, find one that works for you. In any case, I challenge you to try using tiers to adapt your pricing to what the clients will pay, who knows, the results could be surprising.

Want more pricing help? This is day four of our five part series on pricing clients. You can find the rest of the articles on the Pricing Bootcamp splash page

Posted Thursday, June 18th, 2009 · Back to Top


Add Comment

17 Comments 2 Mentions

  1. Bart Author Editor

    Great idea with this Price Bootcamp.
    I always have a problem with pricing my work.
    This helps, indeed!
    Thank U!


  2. Melody Author Editor

    I have to ask this..what is the brown mound with the greenish slime thing in the picture?’s absolutely boggling my mind!–It’s like vomit with snot on it lol..

    Anywho, I definitely like this system and will adapt it, I’ve been trying to figure out which is the best approach, and this has helped tenfold!


  3. Montana Flynn Author Editor

    very good suggestions, and ya what is that?
    .-= Montana Flynn´s last blog ..SNIPPLR – Social code bookmarking =-.


  4. Zach Dunn Author Editor

    @Montana & Melody

    I’m half inclined to set up a contest where the winner guesses. Personally? My entry would be some sort of fine dessert jello.


  5. Dalesh Kowlesar Author Editor

    Thanks for the advice… I am definitely going to implement it in my work.
    .-= Dalesh Kowlesar´s last blog ..Core Differences Between Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing =-.


  6. yewenyi Author Editor

    it is certainly the way to go with pricing. the brownish greenish slime thing is sago pudding with palm suggar on top!
    .-= yewenyi´s last blog ..a bad smell =-.


  7. erin Author Editor

    Pssst…. to the author… there is no such thing as “intensive purposes”…. it’s “intents and purposes” …. do a google search on it … :)


    • Sam Dunn Author Editor

      Thank you, I learned something today.


  8. Rick Lecoat Author Editor

    A (possibly) interesting follow up to the tiered pricing concept (which I’ve been using for a few years now) is that the names which you give your tiers can make a difference to the outcome.

    If you call them Options A, B & C then the ‘relative value’ thought process will take place as described above. If, however, you give them names with an intrinsic implied status — the classic example being Bronze, Silver & Gold — then the purchaser is more likely to choose the higher level option. Why? Because people (especially executives) tend not to like to think of themselves as ‘Bronze’ people. We like to think of ourselves as gold-standard.

    Marketeers have been doing this for decades. It works. I’m not saying that every prospect will go for the gold option, but if it gets even 1 in 20 to jump a tier then it’s a win. Since it’s just about the naming convention there’s little or no downside, after all.


  9. Share Quotes Author Editor

    all of my kids love to dwelll on ice cream shops, they really love to munch lots of ice cream ,”*


  10. decks lebanon pa Author Editor

    Can I simply say what a relief to find someone who truly knows what they’re talking about on the internet.


  11. Tammy Abedelah Author Editor

    hello!,I like your writing very much! share we communicate more about your article on AOL? I need an expert on this area to solve my problem. Maybe that’s you! Looking forward to see you.


  12. usmle medical Author Editor

    I recommend no hurry to choose something


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  14. business Author Editor

    Lots of info you can get here.Thanks


  15. Dave McEnery Author Editor

    Thanks, this was interesting. I’m trying to decide if I should put prices on my website or just wait until a customer needs to be quoted. Maybe I’ll try the tiered setup.


  16. importance of technology Author Editor

    Tired Pricing is great idea for each businesses.



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