Pricing Pushback? How Great Content Can Reduce Price Sensitivity

When frazzled buyers can't decide, they default to price. But give them content they'd pay for, and they'll look for any excuse to work with you. 

Pricing pushback sucks. Ask the publishing industry.

News publishers know this reality intimately as fewer and fewer readers want to pay for content. But in a world where magazines can fold faster than hands in Texas hold’em, Harvard Business Reviewrevealed how they’re sustaining success: strategic content.

More specifically, content that subscribers want—and are willing to pay for.

“What we’re trying to do is not take the approach of ‘add more, pay more,” said Sarah McConville, HBRvice president of marketing. “Instead we try to find the right combination of elements that justifies a higher price.”

HBR’s secret to success? Know your audience, then create content they need and want. Because that’s the content they’re willing to pay for.

While this strategy seems primed only to reinvigorate subscription-based publishing, it could also work in B2B content marketing—as a strategy to reduce price sensitivity.

We content marketers understand the power of valuable content. As sales guru and author Jill Konrath points out, our prospects are overwhelmed 24/7. Anything we give them that’s relevant and timely to help them solve a priority problem puts us way ahead of the pack.

Do that often and consistently enough, price sensitivity becomes less and less of an issue. Customers will look for any excuse to work with you—and refer you with fervor to others.

Why? Because you’ve differentiated yourself. “When customers can’t differentiate, they default to price as a key factor,” says Konrath in her book SNAP Selling. Your relevant reader-focused content keeps prospects (and your sales folks) from falling into that trap by establishing yourself as credible, trustworthy, and dialed in to their needs. They feel confident that their priorities are your priority.

How can we transition our content marketing efforts to overcome price sensitivity?

1. Know who matters.

HBR acknowledges a “significant investment” in audience analytics along with other tactics to identify what readers want and are willing to pay for. If you haven’t already, invest serious time in getting to know your audiences. Talk to your customers. Talk to your salespeople about your customers. Adele Revella, founder of the Buyer Persona Institute even recommends talking to prospects your company wasn’t able to close. If you have analytics at your disposal, all the better. Identify all the people thatneed your help, then hone in on their unique pain points and hot topics. This is a cornerstone of the strategy—you can’t win big without it.

2. Think like a premium publisher.

The whole idea here is to create content so valuable and targeted that if you were a publisher prospects would pay for it. Create content that’s high quality and highly aligned to prospects’ (or customers’) priorities. Make sure it’s well written, well researched, and accessible. Avoid talking down to your readers, but don’t pander either—your content’s tone should present you as an equal. The final touch? Professional production. Your content should look as good as it reads or sounds.

3. Develop content packages.

If the pain point runs deep enough, consider creating content packages so that content related to their Big Issue moves with prospects through the buying cycle. This not only keeps their problem (and your solution) a priority, it maximizes the time you’ve spent understanding and addressing their issues.

Let’s say we offer an online time and attendance system. A pain point for one of our audiences (retail business owners) is managing overtime costs. We could start with a blog post covering three reasons why overtime costs are skyrocketing in retail, then link to an opt-in white paper on how a time and attendance system can help manage overtime more effectively. We follow up with a case study on a customer who reduced their overtime costs by six percent when they switched to our system, then we invite prospects to schedule a free demo (where overtime-specific features will be emphasized). Once they’ve decided to go with us, we send them a link to a video of our in-house expert walking through how our new customer can use her system to implement specific overtime management strategies.

See how this depends on understanding our prospect really, really well? It requires that we uncover their burning priority and deliver publisher-quality content to help them solve it. Fair warning: This strategy isn’t for the faint of heart. But if we nail it, our prospects will be less likely to be sensitive about price because we've proved their priorities are our priorities.