The unexpected lessons I learned about pricing & selling from buying a new mattress

As a freelancer, your goal should be to offer something so good that your prospect can’t get it anywhere else.

Or, at the very least, make your offer harder to compare to others.

One way to do that is to use packaging and bundling. Using a little bit of naming trickery also helps.

Let me show you what I mean.

How mattress retailers avoid competition

Before my wife and I had kids, one of our favorite things to do was to take a road trip and rent a house for a weekend and just lounge around and do nothing.

Occasionally, one of the houses we stayed in had a really comfy bed. So comfy that I would look for the make and model stitched on the mattress.

Back then, we were looking to replace our aging mattress at home and trying out a mattress I’d slept on before buying made a lot of sense to me.

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Weird thing was that I could never find the same model. No matter how hard I looked, I just couldn’t find that same bed anywhere.

What I found out is that mattress retailers play a little name game with mattresses to make it harder to price compare. Unlike most manufacturers that have a consistent make and model no matter where their products are sold, with mattresses you can’t just look up the name, check it out, see the price, and compare the price to another retailer down the street.

Mattress stores make it impossible to do that.

You might find a mattress that looks and feels (and is) exactly the same, but with a different name.

So you might see a Sealy Baywood Lux at one store, and a Sealy Elmwood Lux at another.

Even though it’s confusing and even frustrating for customers trying to compare prices, it’s an easy way for the store to avoid competing with other stores down the street.

That’s a huge benefit for the mattress retailer because if you want that model mattress, you’ve got to buy it at that store.

Make your packages and services difficult to compare

“The buyer’s job is to level the playing field. Your job is to make your service offering incomparable.” – Tim Williams

So you’re obviously not a mattress retailer, but there are lessons to be learned here that you can apply to your freelance business.

Let’s take a logo design for example.

As a designer, I could sell a logo design, or I could sell a brand identity design. I change the name a little bit and I’ve got something different than almost all the other people offering a logo design.

I don’t want to offer the exact same thing as my competitor because all things being equal, the lower price is going to win the business.

To not compete on price, I have to look for other ways to make my offering different.

So while a logo design is one component of a brand identity design, when I fold it into my brand identity package, I’ve made it harder to compare my offering.

You should do the same.

For example, a prospect might be shopping around and have seen logo design priced at $450, $750 & $1,000.

But then, you come along and offer a brand identity system that includes logo design, color palette, typography, and a small brand guidelines booklet for $1,750.

When you do that, you’ve just made it much harder for them to compare what you are offering to what they’ve seen elsewhere.

Sell them on value, not on deliverables

Doing this alters and disrupts your prospect’s buying process (a good thing). Your goal should be to direct your prospect towards the benefit of your offer. And these packages can help do that.

Line-by-line scrutiny ends in price comparisons. Your logo design price vs. my logo design price.

But if they can’t compare you on price alone, they’ll have to focus on the other merits of your offer.

You can either point out the merits yourself in your proposal, or when they ask why they need the color palette, typography and guideline booklet.

When that happens, you can say, “My package comes with everything you need so you can just hand it over to your web designer. All the specs and everything needed is included in the brand guidelines. This will cut down on any mistakes and lost time with back and forth emails with your web designer and help get your site up faster.”

Doing this shows your prospect the benefits of your offer, allows them to understand the process, and gives them another reason to buy from you.

Use bundling to upsell

To make it even harder to compare your offering, you can bundle complementary products or services together into larger packages and price the whole package as one.

You see Amazon doing this all the time with their “frequently bought together” section.

So you might create a bundle consisting of your brand identity package, a basic website, and collateral items. That’s exactly what Lauren Hooker from Elle & Company does.

She puts all these items together and sells a bundled brand and website design package for $8,500.

As a prospect, you don’t know exactly what she is charging for the logo or the website cost. You only know what the package costs. So instead of focusing on the individual components, you are forced to focus on the sum of the whole.

A design proposal template

Now that you’ve made your offer hard to compare, the last thing you’ll want to do is put together 3 options for your client to choose from.

Yes, that’s three separate options each made up of packages like the one Lauren offers.

When you present 3 options, what happens is your prospect will compare your different packages against one another.

You want your prices to be incomparable to your competition, but by offering 3 options, you’ll be competing against yourself.

They’ll go from asking themselves, “Should I work with Awesome Design Agency?” to “Which one of Awesome Design Agency’s packages is best for me?”

It’s likely they’ll still compare those individual prices they saw elsewhere to your packages, but now they’ll have 6 price points to pick from, and 3 of those are yours.

If you want to see how to set this up, take a look at the proposal I use. I regularly use this template to sell $5K+ logo and web design projects.

You’ll notice I don’t include prices for any individual items, only for each package.

Use packaging and bundling like this and you’ll make your offer hard to compare and give yourself a leg up on your competition.

Let me know how these tactics might help you with your pricing in the comments!

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  1. I love the way you have played around with the title’ logo design’ and ‘brand identity design.’

    It’s interesting how a little playing around with the words can change how much you earn as a freelancer.

    I now need to take some time and think about, how I can tweak my ‘Podcast Transcriber’ title as well.

  2. Great Article! Super salient points, tips and easy to implement ideas for my business! Ian’s voice on this subject is unique and informed. Thanks!

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