Why do people buy Workshop Tactics when it's available for free?

Why do people buy Workshop Tactics when it's available for free?

The secret to why we buy

On the Pip Decks website, you’ll find 56 free product team workshop exercises. However, they aren’t unique. You’ll find them scattered around the internet and in various books.

So if they are free, why do people buy the card deck with the same content?

When I asked my beta customers this question, I heard one common theme: they just wanted to have it - to own something of high quality.

But why?

There are lots of extrinsic benefits to the physical deck. You can empower your team by handing them a workshop card, plan a workshop away from the glowing rectangle of your computer screen, or use the instructions as a prompt whilst facilitating.

The crux is that owning something tangible, beautiful and ever-lasting has enormous value. And the main driver of this value is intrinsic: to improve social status.

Status is super important. If you’re a hairdresser, you’re not selling a haircut, you’re selling an improvement in a person’s status. In the case of Workshop Tactics, we’re not selling workshop exercises on a card; we’re selling confidence and status improvement. That’s the reason people buy the deck.

It also explains why we love to share things. We share things that are a reflection of who we are, that maintains or improves our status amongst our peers.

How does free content encourage sales?

Making the content free compounds the value of the deck. Giving the content away for free is generous. This generosity leads to trust, and most importantly - reciprocity.

When I do something for you, you feel obliged to do something for me. It’s hardwired into us. It’s how human beings have become a self-domesticated, co-operative species.

Free content reaches more people than something behind a paywall. When the material is free, it can be shared more easily. It creates authority and builds trust as a reputable source.

It also means there are no surprises when you open the deck. The risk of not getting what you thought is gone. The free content is a stepping stone to becoming aware of the product. 

Some people may never buy the deck, and that’s okay. Only people that want to maintain or improve their status will buy it (though they may not admit it!)

Why is the price so high?

Price is a massive part of the social status driver. We inherently place a higher value on things, the higher they are in cost. It’s the reason why only Apple could price a monitor stand at $999 - and people would still buy it.

The price signals that it’s the best monitor stand in the world.

As marketing overlord Seth Godin puts it: "...the price becomes part of the story of your product.

By putting Workshop Tactics at a high price - I am telling the story that this is a high-quality product that has no substitute. My audience is small. It’s for designers and consultants who believe facilitation is an essential skill that deserves to be shared.

As such, having the deck as a means to empower those around them is crucial. If the quality is cheap, then the same feeling can be had about its value to their practice. 

People value what they pay for.

I wanted to create something that moves people when they hold it. I don’t think I could achieve this with a £30 product. Typically when people produce board games or card decks, they cut corners on quality to make the end product affordable. This makes sense because their market tends to be much larger, so their order quantity means they can charge lower prices.

However, with Workshop Tactics, there is only a small print run. I did not want to skimp on quality. I wanted to design something so good that when you hold it, you are in awe. To make something lesser to meet an “affordable” price is not something I was prepared to do.

The last point is that Workshop Tactics is primarily business to business. And as such, can command a higher price as a business expense. After removal of VAT, Corporation Tax reduction, free shipping - it’s priced quite reasonably.

Why not make it affordable so more people buy it?

There is another path I could’ve taken: make a lower quality product at a higher volume. But for such a niche audience - it didn’t make sense. And as a designer making this for myself, I wanted the highest quality possible.

It's also a point of differentiation. Most, if not all workshop resources out there are digital and free. I wanted to position Workshop Tactics as physical and premium.

I've learnt that there's only three levels of pricing: Premium, free or Introductory Pricing. The psychology around introductory is that it rewards loyalty to customers, but then after a certain date, the price increases permanently. 

People save money on discount brands, to spend on Premium brands, so which one we choose to be determines the price we should be asking for.

How do you work out what price to sell at?

In the early days, before I launched the Beta version of the deck, I plugged Workshop Tactics at the end of a talk at a local UX meet up.

I purposefully didn't mention the price, so that I could gauge people's expectation.

Afterwards, several people came to ask if I had any right this moment to sell! I disappointingly had to say I didn't, but I asked these potential customers how much might they pay for the deck. The responses I heard back were frightening...

"£12? Maybe £20?"

"No more than £30."

I was horrified.

The initial price I worked out to be profitable at £40.

My potential customers scoffed. While it seemed like I was overcharging, in my gut, it still felt right for what I imagined the end product to be.

But the proof is in the pudding. On the launch of the Beta, I sold 40 decks on the first night at £39.99. I had validated my assumption!

I slowly tested higher and higher price points. At every move up, I was certain no one would buy it, but I proved myself wrong every time. £49.99, £59.99 and now at £89.99 I've had more pre-orders than ever before.

As the price increases, so must the value I deliver alongside the product. That's why I include access to the Workshop Tactics Slack channel where I freely consult with my customers on getting the most out of the deck. 

A compelling price point creates tension. There is an initial resistance - much like when you see the price of a premium car like a Tesla. It's the high price that puts it in the premium category. Purchase decisions are made with emotion and then rationalised after the fact. 

In summary

Free content is the flywheel for spreading the word about Workshop Tactics. Once the value has been found with the free content - for the right person, it becomes a no brainer to own the physical version.

The price is a reflection of the high value it exudes. People value ownership of high quality, physical artefacts that improve their status.

Don't ask customers what they'd pay. Instead, test your price by seeing if people actually buy it. Your price is part of your product's story. 

Anyway, don't take my word for it: read our customer's reviews and testimonials.

What's next?

UPDATE: Workshop Tactics has now launched! (August 2020). You can order a deck here (there is a limited quantity!)

Read next: The simple method I used to validate my product idea.

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