Definition-wise, “defensive pricing” seeks to set a price point in a way that will be able to withstand direct comparisons. That means clients pointing at lower-cost alternatives, or competitors actively trying to outbid us should cost us neither significant amounts of market share nor force us into discounts in order to retain business.
That said, it’s true that the best way to defend your price point is the one you rarely have to use.
This is why I dislike opting for the “I’m using the standard rate” defense. It works fine, but you have to use it all the time. Plus, the standard price point is a very well-known target for price dumpers, so people will try to undercut you by default, even if they don’t know you exist.
So why doesn’t it follow that charging over the standard rate means that you get no work because even the people charging the standard rate are taking away your work?
Even without having access to super-strong brands, legal teams, or other market advantages, solo experts or small firms who become trusted authorities in their field can consistently charge much more than the rest.
Of course, getting there is not a quick, linear, or glamorous process. It can be built toward it with a mix of reputation, specialization, customization, publication, and constant networking.
In other words, when you need defensibility, a “platform” is traditionally a good choice.