Going from Free to Fee Part 2

rox-beach-laptopI started this discussion on this post and once I got into a lengthy reply to the comments, I realized there is more to be explored.

You may want to read Part 1 and the associated comments here.

The more I have been thinking about this, the more I want to see companies explore user-generated pricing. In the beginning, I suspect very few would pay and those who do would pay less not more. But once there were leaders who were willing to pay and explain why, it may pave the way for others to follow suit without feeling hosed.

I have this sense that people would be happier paying when they can set the price. But as soon as I write this, I think of clients who make boatloads off our consulting and support, and who have no interest in paying even a tiny percentage of their revenue to us – revenue earned from things we built for them.

So maybe there is some gradual way to introduce this concept, and maybe it is actually a way to attract different types of customer relationships – where we discuss the many iterations of “value” up front and agree to how we would each like to receive and reward value in the relationship.

What has not been specifically addressed though was suggested in the comments (want vs need) is business vs pleasure use. Traditionally, people charge businesses more because there is a profit-making agenda on the table. Airlines, hotels, and rental car agencies charge a lot more for weekdays than weekends, as they have a captive customer for one and they know that companies are theoretically making money off of their use of said services. And because there are others like me who want to change the hard line between work and fun.

Weekenders however, are theoretically there “just for fun” – so this costs less? This is making less sense to me though once I look at everything as an exchange of value and once I realize many of us will pay a lot more for things we truly love that have nothing to do with our jobs! Just because it is for business, does that mean it should cost more? And does the “costing more” taint the transaction? And how does a business recoup the costs it has to develop and maintain its products and services?

What do you think? How do we take the bitterness factor out of paying for things we like? Are people more generous or greedy? What risks would you take with new pricing strategies?