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The Price of Perception, and Vice Versa

Work we’ve done on pricing recently has gotten us thinking about that intersection of supply and demand that defines optimal pricing. When should a price be raised or lowered? When is a price excessive, fair or too generous?

First movers in an emerging category often have the luxury of naming their own price. They’re ahead of the curve. Demand for what they offer outpaces the supply of what is available. When multiple suppliers enter the market with similar offerings, the products offered may then fall into the unenviable category of commodity, where there is little compulsion to choose one supplier over another except based on price.

Market forces routinely define that self-evident point at which supply and demand intersect and rational pricing is revealed, right? Ah, if only the world worked as cleanly as economic theory. Such theory ignores a simple but powerful dynamic: brand perception, which can sometimes be anything but rational. Brand perception can make an item at Nordstrom far more desirable, and, therefore, of higher value, than a comparable item at Target.

Made up of a cadre of talented, creative individuals, with its own culture and way of managing money, every advisory firm offers a uniquely different client experience. But how do you break out of the commodity clutter and communicate that to prospects?

Scan the cyber landscape of advisory firms and the same attributes and many of the same words will play back – disciplined, experienced, sophisticated, responsive. It’s not that you aren’t all these things, it’s just that you’re running up against brand perception, or lack thereof. It’s hard to be believed if you haven’t been tried. It’s hard to be trusted before you’ve earned it. And it’s hard to price fairly if your brand doesn’t broadcast your real worth.