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Once you have a product or service, you have to set a price for it.

This may be the most misunderstood exercise in all of marketing.

Worse, the world's leading expert on setting prices--Marty Chenard--doesn't even have a Web site. (He relies on word of mouth more than word of mouse.)

So I guess I have to tell you.

Ready? Here's the secret:

How do you set your price? You ask people.

OK, it's a little more complicated than that. You have to ask the right question in the right way, and you have to know what to do with the answer. (There's even some calculus involved.)

You start with an ā€œSā€-shaped curve, the demand curve. (This is the calculus part--it's a plot of sales and market acceptance over time.)

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Dana Blankenhorn  (danablankenhorn@mindspring.com) is the author of the new book, The Blankenhorn Effect: How to Put Moore's Law to Work for You, available at Amazon.Com.