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  • Writer's pictureKate

The Subtle Way Starbucks Justifies Prices — & How You Can, Too!



I recently saw a reel where @thekrstenboss was balking at the notion that any small business sets its prices too high. She was talking about how she (and so many of us!) spend $6.00+ nearly every day at a certain coffee shop chain. That’s, like, $30/week and maybe $120/month! So if you’re offering something — a product or service — that lasts longer and does more good than a latte… “Don’t tell me people can’t afford your service!”

I totally agree. And it made me wonder… What magic formula is so powerful that it can convince millions of people to be so loyal to a commodity? And how can YOU use the formula in YOUR marketing?

Here’s what we can learn from certain coffee chains:

1. Understanding the Audience & Problem: Starbucks (*ahem*) Coffee shops know their customers really well. People who enjoy fancy caffeine. Which they can’t get from home. The coffee shops are experts in the one thing customers need to start their days. (And if you don’t identify with this problem, you’re not a customer in the first place.)

2. Framing the Solution: It’s not about making delicious drinks (hot, iced, or frozen). They provide connection. Space to bond with friends, a place to see and be seen, a solitary respite where you won’t feel so alone. AND customers get membership in family-slash-secret-society! They get to be someone who understands code words like venti and frappuccino.

3. Overcoming Fear/Objections: Drip coffee is way more bitter than a fancy latte — objectively speaking. Any customers thinking about skipping their morning shot of sugar-encrusted espresso will want to avoid the trauma of putting their taste buds through such horrors. (Solving the problem.) And don’t forget! Every order is an opportunity to experience a sense of belonging in a community they’ve chosen. (Dream outcome.) What more could they ask?

Hacking the System

National corporations use messaging to their advantage. And it’s not salesy or sleazy. There are no dirty tricks or shady half-truths. Everyone knows exactly what they’re getting, and exactly what they’re not getting.

Your messaging can do that too! Marketing is an awesome tool that helps you connect with the people you’re serving. Here’s how to crack the code:

Understand Your Audience & Their Problem

Why does your business exist? To solve a problem, right? To make someone’s experience easier, more fulfilling, gratifying, and connected. Whatever it is that you do, your audience has not figured out how to do it on their own.

Keep this fact at the forefront of your mind at all times: your people need you. And people who aren’t interested were never “your people” in the first place.

Continually reminding yourself of your problem-solving superpowers is the key to expanding confidence in yourself.

The next half of the equation is to increase your customers’ confidence in you! The most effective way to do that is to create a context of empathy and understanding. Whether you’re writing (emails, social posts, sales pages), speaking (to clients, on podcasts), or strategizing around your next great offer: Show people that you understand them. Keep the customer’s problem visible.

Because if they don’t need help with a problem, there’s no reason to do business with you.

Frame the Solution

Your audience has now self-identified as your people because they have the problem you keep referencing. Don’t stop there! It’s time to paint a beautiful picture of what’s possible.

When you’re talking about your solution, the main message is the customer’s dream outcome.

This perspective doesn’t come naturally to most of us. This is why you might find yourself talking about deliverables rather than outcomes.

Deliverables are the easy part. They’re measurable. You can point to something and say, “There! That’s what I did for you!” You spent this amount of time with them, designed a certain number of graphics, and shipped a specific item.

Outcomes are much more powerful. What does the deliverable mean for the customer? What does their life look like and feel like after you’ve made it easier, more fulfilling, gratifying, connected (etc.)?

Let the dream outcome provide the context of your solution. That kind of vision helps your audience grasp the true value of your offer.

Overcome Fear/Objections

Fear is a driving force for most humans. We’re afraid to leave our comfort zones and afraid of pain. (Ironically, many of us choose painful comfort zones over change — because we fear change in and of itself. Weird, right?)

It’s no use ignoring your audience’s fight-freeze-flight instinct. Address it head-on. The easiest way to overcome fear is a one-two punch for your brain:

1. Stir the pot. Remind them that pain is bad and they don’t want to keep it around.

2. Paint a picture. Give them the gift of possibility. They can have the dream outcome!

You can’t rely on one or the other of these approaches. Rather, they work together to help humans realize the truth: Exploring new possibilities is actually less scary than being trapped in our comfort zones.

Your Turn!

Your customers are out there. And they’re more than happy to pay you for the value you offer — as long as you communicate your value in a way that resonates.

Now it’s your turn! How will you use this perspective in your messaging?




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