The story of price
Welcome to microtransaction hell
One of my theses around storytelling is it applies far broader in business than just marketing.
Today I want to talk through storytelling in price, looking at BMW’s interesting new move.
It’ll take you about ~3.5 minutes to read and you can check out last week’s piece here.
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Now to today's piece 🤝
BMW is selling a monthly subscription service for… heated seats. Each new car will come with the needed tech but the German luxury car brand will make you pay $18 per month to keep your toosh warm in the winter.
Joe Pompliano captured the broader sentiment: “microtransaction hell.”
This is wild — BMW is now selling a monthly subscription service for heated seats in your car.
• Monthly fee: $18
• Annual fee: $180
The car will come with all the necessary components, but payment is needed to remove a software block.
Welcome to microtransaction hell.
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano)
Jul 12, 2022
They’re offering it in England for now and many expect it to become the norm everywhere.
This makes sense from a pure economics perspective: Manufacturing plants run on uniform efficiency. Standardizing the build across all BMWs produced (AKA putting heated seats in all of them) will save time and money despite needing more parts. Saving just two seconds on a standard build means millions of dollars saved when you're delivering 2.2 million cars per year.
Plus, if BWM can tap into the subscription economy to build out a little recurring revenue, seems like a no-brainer. Right?
But let’s think about the story being told: As Katharine Paine said, a pricing mistake can eat into your reputation or your profits. Here, I’d argue the move devalues BMW’s brand.
It tells the story of a brand desperate to get another $18 bucks a month from customers already paying $50,000+ for the core product. It’s a move you expect from Ryanair or Spirit Airlines, not from one of the oldest and most well-respected car manufacturers on the planet.
I’m just waiting for when I need to pay $0.05 to use my brakes.
1/ Raise the stakes
Apple realized the iPhone was competing on the same few features each release – camera, design, blue vs green texts.
So it raised the stakes: privacy.
This tells two stories:
- Apple protects your privacy
- Competitors exploit your privacy
This story became a feature as iOS 14.5 let users opt out of apps tracking their data. Up to 95% of users chose to ask Zuck (and others) to stop watching their every move.
2/ Talk to a niche
Great stories aren’t told to everyone.
They’re told to the specific group of people who will resonate most with them.
It's the idea of "1000 true fans."
The John Mayer video was so popular last week I decided to look into more artists’ creative processes. This bit from Ed Sheeran summed up everything I found perfectly:
What Ed’s saying is when you sit down for any creative session, the bad ideas come first. Instead of resisting them, write them down. As your brain sees more and more ideas, it begins to pattern match the interesting parts. Then, after a little while, the good ideas start to flow.
One of the most common questions I get asked is how to tell your brand’s story. While obviously complicated and filled with nuance, my general framework is two-fold:
- Position the customer as the Hero
- Position the brand as the wise mentor helping the Hero along
Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller is the best book I’ve read on the subject.
One rabbit hole
Why storytelling is part of being a good doctor (New Yorker)
I hope you enjoyed that.
If you wanna snag the storytelling guide filled with other frameworks and resources I put together, get one more World Builder onboard using your unique referral link below.
See you next week,
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