It’s 60 minutes before our presentation for the National Association For Catering and Events when the unthinkable happens:red-shoes-price

My sandal breaks.

Not just any sandals, the only pair of shoes I have with me that matches my dress. Irreparably broken. No tape or safety pin can rescue me.

I have no choice but to buy a new pair of shoes, and only minutes to pull it off.

Now you need to know something about me. Despite the fact that I’ve worked in the wedding industry for over 14 years, I am not a girly-girl.

I hate shopping, especially shoe shopping.

My preferred store is DSW because the choices are easy and I don’t have to talk to anyone. I’m in and out, with no one the wiser.

So now I’m stuck at this fancy hotel with its ONE boutique clothing store, hoping they have a pair of shoes to match my dress.

The sales woman pursed her lips as she looked at my dress. “We have three styles in your size that should work.” She disappeared into the next room to get them.

Shoe #1 — too tight and shiny. I’ll limp through our talk and never wear them again.

Shoe #2 – an off-white leather sandal with a three inch clog heel.  I put it on. It feels good, even if I am a little wobbly.

“You can wear them with a dress or jeans,” the sales woman says helpfully.

“I’ll take them,” I say, without looking for a price tag.

“They are more expensive,” she warns.

I nod and brace myself for an astronomical price. I need shoes and I need them NOW.

$250 plus tax later, I walk out with my brand new Frye Company sandals.

I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than $50 on a pair of shoes (unless you count my fancy Adidas sneakers) and under normal circumstances, I would never spend this much. But I was in desperate need of shoes, with no time to fight my natural inclinations.

And you know what?

I really like these shoes! And I felt like a million bucks walking out in front of hundreds of wedding pros in them.

What I Learned From My $250 Shoes

#1 – A person in pain will pay a lot to relieve it; the more pain, the more they’re willing to pay.

On a sunny day shopping for sandals with nothing but time on my side, I’d never have spent $250. In fact, you’d be lucky to get me to spend $100.

But I was experiencing deep, emotional pain, bordering on panic, at the thought of being forced to wear my clunky clodhoppers or sneakers to present in front of a sea of strangers.

Even if those shoes had cost me $500 I probably still would have bought them.

The point?

When you specialize in solving a very specific problem for a bride or groom who desperately wants to avoid a painful situation (guests who won’t dance, bouquets that fall apart, crappy photos) they’re motivated to pay more for the relief you can give them.

#2 – A certain percentage of consumers will pay more simply because it makes a statement about who they are.

Just knowing that I spent what was, for me, an unprecedented amount on a pair of shoes made me feel good. It was my announcement to the world of, “Look at my new shoes! I’m worth it.”

While that may sound silly, it’s easy to see this played out with brides-to-be flashing around the engagement ring as “proof” of how much her partner loves her and how special she is.

As soon as we know it’s expensive, we immediately value it more.

Sometimes the price tag itself can be its own reward.

#3 – When a customer pays more, they rationalize the higher price.

I doubt those sandals are 5x better, more fashionable or more beautiful than the shoes I would have purchased under normal circumstances. But they sure look like it to me!

I experienced this firsthand in our wedding business. When we started out, our price was just below average. We’d sometimes encounter couples who were skeptical because our price was so low and we often found ourselves attracting couples who only seemed to care about price.

As we increased our price over the years, I noticed that our couples appreciated us more. By the time our price was almost 2x the average in our market, they were singing our praises from the rafters.

Sure, we were good. But part of the reason they were so happy with us, before we’d even done the wedding, was because they had to justify their investment.

What’s the Impact of Your Price?

Your price is as much about psychology as it is about the actual value of what you do. You need to know your market and your target client to get the number right.

If you can identify the bride or groom’s “pain point,” you can deliver some much needed relief and get paid handsomely for it.

I’m not suggesting that every wedding professional should raise their prices, but there are certainly some compelling reasons to do so.

Have you made a “luxury” purchase lately? Tell me about it below.

photo credit: red fanatic via photopin (modified per this license)