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A Simple Framework for Pricing Digital Goods
6th April 2017 • The Digital Entrepreneur • Rainmaker Digital LLC
00:00:00 00:30:26

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Do you struggle with how to price your online products? Well, this episode will help.

Pricing your product or service can be a challenge. Too cheap and you can’t make your rent, too expensive no one will buy. So what do you do?

Pricing does not need to be a huge challenge … if you start with the right framework.

In this episode we deconstruct pricing models and give you a proven formula you can use to set the right price.

Yes, there is some math involved (sorry), but in the end, pricing your eBook, training course, or any digital good, does not have to be a huge challenge.

In this 30-minute episode, Sean Jackson and Jessica Frick discuss the most common concerns and proven strategies for pricing, including …

  • The #1 rule that you must follow when setting your pricing
  • Why understanding your costs is the key to an effective pricing strategy
  • Solid guidelines that will help demystify pricing
  • Why you should always start out at a high price
  • And of course, our question for the week – Is PPC for everyone?

Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...

The Show Notes

The Transcript

A Simple Framework for Pricing Digital Goods

Voiceover: Rainmaker FM.

You are listening to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, the place to be for digital entrepreneurs. For more information, go to Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce. That’s Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce.

Sean Jackson: Welcome to The Digital Entrepreneur, everyone. I’m your host, Sean Jackson. I’m joined, as always, by the eclectic Jessica Frick. Jessica, how the Frick are you?

Jessica Frick: I am eclectic, Sean. How the Jackson are you?

Sean Jackson: Oh well, I’m still suffering from this cold that has been going around, but as I said before, our audience is too important and the show must go on.

Jessica Frick: You are a trouper.

Sean Jackson: I’m going to suffer through, but I will make it happen. Jess, where did we leave the last episode? What was the question of the week we wanted everyone to ponder?

Jessica Frick: See, here’s where I know that you’re pretending like you’re doing this just because you believe in the audience, but I know secretly you have been looking forward to this conversation. I have been having so much anxiety about it. Just the idea of it makes me anxious. Last week you’d asked me what I disliked the most about online business, and my answer was pricing.

Sean Jackson: Ah, yeah.

Jessica Frick: You know, I thought more about it, and just the concept of pricing is enough to put me into analysis paralysis. I won’t launch anything because I’m too afraid to put a price out there. Then you can’t really change it once it’s out there. “Did I go too high, too low?” Sean, what is your best piece of advice for someone like me who is not a numbers, math, or money person like you and can just say, “This is the price”?

The #1 Rule That You Must Follow When Setting Your Pricing

Sean Jackson: Yeah, your fear and anxiety around this is very common. I think especially when you’re starting out with anything new, you’re always worried, “Am I going to set the right price?” I think at the end of the day it helps to remember the fundamental rule, which is you control your pricing. That control gives you both responsibility, but it also gives you a lot of latitude. To address that fear, we have to realize that there’s no set book that says, “All things must be priced accordingly.” That you actually can pick a price. And picking that price — the goal is to defend the price, to make people not even question it.

When I was in sales many years ago there was a great quote that I used, which is that if they question the price you haven’t sold it enough. I love that quote, because it says that really pricing is a function of justifying it through the sales process. How you support it is what makes that price seem reasonable. Let’s do this, Jess. Let’s go to a break, and then when we come back, let’s get into the mechanics of this. I want everyone who’s listening to this episode to feel empowered that they are in control.

In the next part of our show, we’re going to talk about how they can actually do that, but I don’t want to leave this section without everyone sitting there going, “I have control. With that control, I can do what I need to to make my business successful by pricing the right way.” Is that a good way to end this particular section?

Jessica Frick: I am in control.

Sean Jackson: That’s right. When we come back from the break, we’re going to talk about how you can maintain that control. We’ll be right back, folks.

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Welcome back from the break, everyone. Jessica, we left the last segment with you wanting to know how to price your online product. Is that correct?

Jessica Frick: It is. There’s so many things that I feel like you need to put into that total price. What all goes into it, Sean?

Sean Jackson: Okay. Well let’s start with a very basic idea. Let’s use this as the example for the show. Let’s say you want to make $400,000 in revenue. Is that a good target? Would that be okay for you, $400,000 in revenue for the year.

Jessica Frick: I wouldn’t kick $400,000 out of bed.

Sean Jackson: Sure. You sit there and say, “Okay, I want to have $400,000. That’s my target for the year. That’s the amount of revenue, money, that I want to bring in for the year.” Let’s use that. “I want to do that by selling some sort of digital goods online, membership, ebook, etc.” All right, so we want to make $400,000. Let’s start looking at that number in a little more detail. Jessica, let’s say you want to sell some sort of membership site or some sort of training program or something like that.

Jessica Frick: Okay.

Sean Jackson: You want to make $400,000 in revenue. That’s our target. How many customers would you need to reach $400,000 in revenue? The response is, “Well, it depends on the price,” right?

Jessica Frick: Totally.

Sean Jackson: If you have one customer paying you $400,000 … But let’s go through the math a little bit more, because I want people to understand an important part of that $400,000 number. All of the money you are going to spend to make that is going to be taken out of that $400,000. And part of that $400,000 is the cost for you to deliver your product.

Jessica Frick: Okay.

Why Understanding Your Costs is Key to an Effective Pricing Strategy

Sean Jackson: Now this is different than the expense of running your business. An expense of running your business is like your Internet connection. That is an expense for the business, but it’s not a cost of you providing a product or service to a customer. Let’s look at what I mean by cost. In any online business that’s selling a digital good, your target should be around 20-25% of the money you collect should be the cost of providing that product or service to the customer. All right?

Jessica Frick: Okay.

Sean Jackson: Let’s use 25%. You want to make $400,000, right, Jess?

Jessica Frick: Yeah.

Sean Jackson: But 25% of that money is going to be the cost of delivering that product or service over to your customer. So what is 25% of $400,000?

Jessica Frick: $100,000.

Sean Jackson: That’s right, $100,000. By the way, every business has a cost to provide the product or service, every single one of them. 20-25% is a very good rule of thumb, simply because there’s a lot of money that you spend to give that customer the product or service. Even if you’re giving a training course, you still have to do customer support, right, Jess? That’s a cost, right?

Jessica Frick: Yeah.

Sean Jackson: You still have to have a website for them to go to. That’s a cost. There’s a lot of costs. Even if I bought your training program and it’s all online, I still have a cost of supporting you. I have a cost of collecting your money via credit card.

Jessica Frick: Yeah.

Sean Jackson: When you look at it … Now let’s go back. Jess, you want to make $400,000. You know that $100,000 is going to be the cost of providing that product or service to your customer. The question is, Jess, how many customers can you support for $100,000? That is the key. If you know it’s going to take you $100,000 of costs to support them and you have $400,000 of revenue that you want to make, how many customers can you support for $100,000 a year? To make the math easy, I’m going to say it’s 1,000 people. Would you say that feels about right for your training course, let’s say, that you’re trying to put up?

Jessica Frick: On average, because you know, again, there’s a 90/10 rule.

Sean Jackson: Sure.

Jessica Frick: 10% of the people are going to take up 90% of your time.

Sean Jackson: Right, but if I come in and I want to buy your training course, I want to buy your ebook, I want to buy your membership system, or I want to buy whatever digital good you have — your software product, whatever — then you have to say, “For $100,000, how many people can I support?” Now in this example I’m going to say 1,000, because it makes the math real easy.

Jessica Frick: Okay.

Sean Jackson: Let’s go through. You want to make $400,000, right, Jess?

Jessica Frick: I do.

Sean Jackson: You know that if you spend $100,000, you can support 1,000 customers. What is the average price you have to charge to make that $400,000? You’ve got 1,000 customers and you want to make $400,000 in revenue. How much do you have to charge on average?

Jessica Frick: On average, about $400.

Sean Jackson: That’s right. See, this is where it becomes kind of fun.

Jessica Frick: But Sean, that assumes that all of the things that I sell are going to be $400. What if I want to scale it?

Solid Guidelines That Will Help Demystify Pricing

Sean Jackson: Ah, that’s right. This is where we come through the next part, because we know we need to make $400 per sale. If we have 1,000 customers at $400 a sale, it’s $400,000 a year. I got my $400 average. Now let’s put the price together. This is why we have to know a little math, folks. We know we need to make on average $400. Here is how you get that $400 average. You don’t do it by selling one product. You do it by providing three to four options for people to buy online.

There’s a whole science and study around this, but I’m going to make this easy because, again, we’re trying to figure out the price of what we want to sell. We know we have to make $400 because we’re going to sell it to 1,000 people. That $400 is going to be the average between the things that you sell online. Now let’s do this, Jess. We’re going to create up a product that we’re going to call the anchor product.

This is important psychologically, because the anchor product is the single most expensive thing you ever sell. It is the thing that when people look at it, they go, “Man, I wish I could buy that. I wish I had enough money to buy that particular offering.” It’s like when you go to buy a car. Sometimes they’ll show you the most expensive car just so that they can put your … Because they want to sell you …

Jessica Frick: Oh yeah, I watch that on the DIY shows all the time. They show you the house that has everything you want.

Sean Jackson: That’s right.

Jessica Frick: And then you find out it’s half a million more than your budget.

Sean Jackson: That’s right. Now let’s come through this, folks. You need to create what I call the anchor product. The anchor product is the single most expensive thing you would ever provide to anyone from the products and service of your business. This is the uber offering of everything. This is the consulting. This is the come and wash your house for you. It is everything and anything that you would want to sell, and you’re going to price that at a level that is extremely high.

Remember, we want to make an average of $400 in our example. So your anchor product is going to be way more than $400. Let’s call it $2,000, just to throw it out there. Here’s why the anchor product is so important: No one’s going to buy the thing.

Jessica Frick: It’d be nice if they did, right?

Sean Jackson: Yeah, a few people will, but the anchor product sets the expectation. For instance, if I had two houses that you can take a look at, and one is this uber million-dollar house that is gorgeous — it’s got all this finish-out, etc. — and then I show you a house that’s $200,000 that is kind of like the million-dollar house, you’re going to sit there and anchor in your mind the features of the million-dollar house and look at it in the $200,000 house, and say, “Oh, that fixture right there. That was in the million-dollar house. Well, this must be just like the million-dollar house.”

Jessica Frick: Yeah, and you start negotiating with yourself about the different things.

Sean Jackson: That’s right.

Jessica Frick: It makes that lower price one so affordable.

Sean Jackson: That’s right. You’re like, “Well, it has some of the same features of the big expensive one that I can’t afford, so it must be as good as that really super nice thing that I can’t afford that I really want.” That’s why anchor products are crucial. The beauty of an anchor product, folks, is you can make up the price. You know what your average is, and you’re going to sit there and jack that anchor product up way higher than your average. In this case, let’s go ahead and say it’s $1,500 to $2,000. It really doesn’t matter if anybody buys this product. By the way, folks, you should be super excited that they do. But no one’s going to do it. It sets expectation.

The next thing that we do is we set up our mid-tier product and our lowest-tier product. These are important in the digital goods space because, again, we want this average of $400. What should we price our mid-tier product and what should we price our lower-tier product? Very simple. We want to make $400 in our example. That’s the average. No one’s going to buy the anchor product. It’s solely there to set expectations. The average of the money that we make is going to be the difference between the lowest-tier and the mid-tier, so let me give you how that would work. If you know you need to make $400, then your mid-tier product should be about $600 and your lowest-tier should be about $200. Your average price is going to be the difference between them, which is $400. See how that goes, Jess?

Jessica Frick: I do.