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Pricing Needs to be Aware of Brandolini’s Law

You’ve probably heard of Newton’s laws. And Murphy’s law. Maybe you’ve even heard of Kepler’s law and Moore’s law.

But have you ever heard of Brandolini’s law?

It’s okay if you haven’t. After all, Brandolini’s law has only been around since 2013. But it’s no less true than the other scientific laws that you might know better.

Also known as the bullshit asymmetry principle, Brandolini’s law states

The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude larger than to produce it.

If you’ve been paying any attention to American politics, you probably nodded your head in agreement when you read that definition. But you might be wondering what Brandolini’s law has to do with pricing.

Pricing has its own asymmetry problem that we’ve highlighted before:

Pricing is far more likely to get the blame than to get the credit.

When margins go up — just about everyone (and everything) in the company will clamor for the credit. Salespeople, marketing, executives, the guy who makes the coffee — they all think they had something to do with increasing profits. And they all want a piece of those profits.

But when margins go down, everyone points their fingers at the pricing team.

Of course, pricing can work to combat the credit and blame when this inevitably happens. But if you wait until you find yourself in this position, you will find that your team has become victim of Brandolini’s law: it will take orders of magnitude more effort to refute the bullshit claims that it was pricing’s fault than it required to place the blame on the pricing team.

The best way to counteract Brandolini’s law — in pricing or in other endeavors — is to proactively head off the people who will try to cast doubt on your team’s performance. If you have established credibility in advance, it will be far more difficult for false claims to gain attention. Not to mention the fact that you’ll save all the effort it takes to root them out.

If you aren’t sure how to do this, we have a number of resources that can help:

  • Proving the Value of Pricing highlights the metrics that executives care about most and outlines the key principles involved in making your case. It also offers tips for improving pricing’s reputation no matter what stage of development your team is currently in.
  • Communicating Pricing Concepts offers invaluable advice for explaining what we do to people who really don’t care that much about it. It includes powerful, real-world examples that make it easier for other people to understand why pricing really matters and what it can and can’t do.
  • Promoting the Power of Pricing provides practical tips on how to toot your own horn without looking or feeling like a jerk. It includes step-by-step directions on how to go about an internal marketing campaign as well as tried-and-true tips for making your campaign more effective.

You might remember that one of Newton’s laws states, “An object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rest tends to stay at rest.” It applies to pricing too. Once you put plans in motion to counter Brandolini’s law before it comes into play, you’ll find that it’s much harder for naysayers in your organization to stop you.

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