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socks and cat

Not sure what to do

Three of my competitors offer pole parties also. Two of them have dropped their prices and offer their parties for less. I will have no way of knowing if this will cut into my sales until the wedding season starts next month. So I don't know if I should lower my prices also. I know my parties are worth what I charge. My clients all leave VERY happy. But some one shopping online for a pole party doesn't know there is a difference in the level and quality of our services. They just think a pole party is a pole party and may go with the cheapest service.

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What many advertising campaigns do to capture both bargain hunters and the more discerning customers with the same product is simply run multiple advertisements with one of them advertising a discounted price. Kind of like the way two people sitting next to eachother on a plane might have paid wildly different prices even though they are getting the same exact product. You could try to leverage a coupon, referral discount, or similar (ex: "mention this ad to receive 10% off")that would discount only some of your parties. Perhaps an "early booking" discount that undercuts the competition (ex: book 3weeks in advance and get 10% off)? You could stop offering or alter the early booking discount at any time if you feel you don't need to discount as deeply to keep sales (change it to 4weeks or 5% or whatever to increase your profit margin).

The goal is to discount only those sales that need to be discounted to not lose volume while maintaining the image that your product's value has not gone down. I don't know how, exactly, to accomplish this with your target demograph though and since you are selling a "service" and not an inventory that makes it even more complicated (at a retail store they can just run "while supplies last" type sales).

It's kind of an advanced marketing gimmick but it potentially gives you the best of both worlds: undercut the competition to keep sales that you would have otherwise lost AND keep all the sales you wouldn't have lost at full markup.

A very small referral discount might be the way to go. People who purchase based on referrals don't do comparison shopping. Even if the referral discount still leaves you as the most expensive option they will think they got a good deal and purchase from you without looking at anyone else.
I don't know about everyone else, but the price isn't the number one thing I look at before putting money down on a product. In fact, I have a tendency to research almost everything I buy, which means I usually end up going with the more expensive = higher quality product. make sure you have an easy way for potential customers to find reviews of your classes.
I seem to remember previous posts about your classes selling out very quickly. Not sure if that also applies to the pole parties, but I would try to hold the line at the cost for now, and then only if you see a massive drop in business then think about discounts.
But I don't know about your cash flow and whether you can afford a month of less bookings during the busiest season?
"But some one shopping online for a pole party doesn't know there is a difference in the level and quality of our services."

There are some things you can do to change that.

What qualifications do you have that make you a better instructor? List them.

It might be what certifications you have.

It might be how many hours of training you've received.

It might be how long you've been in business, time wise, or how many clients you've had.

If you honestly believe you are offering a better *experience* to the student, what about you makes the experience better? Identify that and promote it.

Don't forget about personal endorsements from prior students on your page or on your ads.

Don't go chasing the people who buy on price only. There will always be people who who go with the cheapest service, no matter what. Just let them go. If you are full booked, why worry about the cheapskates who are going somewhere else.

Go for the clients who are looking for QUALITY and make *sure* you are promoting yourself as the "QUALITY ALTERNATIVE".

Pole 4 the Soul - "Not the Cheapest, but the Best."

Pole 4 the Soul - "Seatll's Best Pole Dancing Experience"

Pole 4 the Soul - "Our Quality Sets Us Apart"
I agree with all of that and so far I think cagekitten is doing a good job showcasing what sets her school apart.
Oh, and to answer a specific thought you mentioned:

Don't drop your prices yet just because they dropped their prices. Once you go down, it's hard to raise them again.

Make sure you are positioned as the Quality choice and keep your prices as-is.

Wait and see how the Bridal season works out. If you are positioned properly as the quality school, you should do OK.

But, unfortunately, you have no way of knowing for sure if you will lose business to the cheaper competitors until you actually see how bookings go.

Sticking to your current prices *is* a risk, but is probably the right choice. Why give away money when you don't know for sure that bookings will go down?

If it comes to that, take the one-time hit for any lost business to the cheaper competitors and then lower your prices. But, if you lower them pre-emptively, you'll take the loss without knowing for sure that you needed to do so.
I have no idea about pole dancing other than viewing it, one could argue that pole dancing could be dangerous. If I were to take lessons I would go with someone that was more professional and has a lot more experience. Maybe boost that up in your marketing plan?
Flasher702 has some good thoughts on this.

Have you thought of taking some basic marketing classes? It would probably help you out with questions like this by helping you to understand the theories behind pricing. You could consider enrolling in a quick course or going with a semester long community college class. Another option is to hire a consultant to help you out with a short term and long term revenue plan which would take into account your competitors current and possible future prices.