Newsletter – You Can't Sell a Quarter for Ten Cents

You Can’t Sell a Quarter for Ten Cents

Contents (Do you have ideas for future newsletters? Write me.)

  1. Selling a Quarter for Ten Cents
  2. Quote of the Month – from subscriber Ann Tardy

Why is it So Hard to Sell a Quarter for Ten Cents?

Last year several friends and I had a garage sale, a “junkapalooza” of sorts. Just for fun we put a quarter out of the table with a price tag clearly marked “10 cents.” We sold only 3 all day. In fact we had to **actively** sell one of them, talking up its value and explaining what a bargain it was. I was amazed. This year when we held another sale, we tried it again. That quarter languished on the table for over 2 hours! People would pick it up, inspect it closely, and then put it back down and walk away. Finally someone stole it.

Does Price Convey Value?

Perhaps there is a lesson here about how price influences people in their perception of the value or quality of a product. Suppose you saw a brand new 2002 Jaguar XJ6L for sale with a sticker price of $5,000. What thoughts might cross your mind? What’s wrong with it? Does it even have an engine?

I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon in my consulting practice. Last year, when paying consulting work was a bit scarce, I offered to provide valuable services to several people on a pro bono basis so that I could keep my skills sharp, continue to be of service, and build relationships that might increase the chances of generating paying work in the future. However, it was **incredibly difficult** to find people who would accept my services for free. Some did not want to take advantage of me, while others did not want to be beholden to me. And perhaps some thought that, like a quarter on sale for 10 cents, something must be wrong with the deal, or there must be a catch. Now that I once again am charging my normal consulting rates, people seem more comfortable retaining my services.

The Tale of Lacoste Polo Shirts

While it certainly can be that something is priced too high to sell easily, when something is priced far below its expected value, its sale also can be more difficult. Consider the story of the Lacoste polo shirt. Originally a high-price, high-brand-recognition item, General Mills purchased and debased the brand through low price and mass merchandising. Sales plummeted. Lacoste repurchased the brand in 1992, tripled the price, brought back the concept of branding – – – and sales skyrocketed!

What are You Discounting?

What are you advertising at a “bargain price?” Is it a product or service in your business? Or maybe it’s the way you are marketing yourself in your job search? How about the way you represent yourself in general? Do you present yourself as someone with something of value to offer, someone with a contribution to make? Or do you discount yourself so much that you remain on the table, like my garage-sale quarter?

Quote of the Month (Contributed by Ann Tardy)

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; but who does actually strive to do his deeds; who knows that great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” — Theodore Roosevelt

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