Hiding Prices #4 – The Secret Technique Of Price Conditioning

All this week we’ve been discussing the idea of “hiding” your prices (i.e. not making your prices immediately obvious), and there’s one other major reason some marketers and copywriters hide their prices, and it involves the little-known but immensely powerful concept of price conditioning.

New visitors have faulty price expectations in mind.

When they first visit your website, many of your potential clients have a certain price expectation in mind, which are often based on certain erroneous assumptions.

For example, Peter might have heard or read of other people who had several 500 word articles written at $5 each – so when he comes to your site, his price expectation is $5 an article. Sally’s friend may have had a sales letter written for $500, so Sally expects to be able to get the same price. When she comes to your site, her expectation is that a sales letter costs $500.

On the other hand, let’s say your price is $20 for a 500 word article, or $2,000 for a sales letter. Clearly there is a BIG price difference between Peter’s or Sally’s expectation of price, and your actual price.

Big problem!…

… especially if they discover your price before you’ve established value and built desire. If Peter’s expectation is $5 an article, and you’re at $20 an article, you risk him dismissing your writing service without even reading your sales pitch!

What price conditioning does is it conditions the potential customer to raise their expectations of price… to the point where, when you reveal your price, it’s not as much as they expected – or at the very least, it’s less of a shock.

It’s about changing their perception of your price.

Now, because this is a little understood technique for most writers, and even many copywriters, I devoted an entire chapter to the subject in Write To More Money, but let me touch on just one of the many ways you can condition your clients to expect a higher price.

There are publications in the writing industry that contain standard rates for certain types of writing. So let’s say, according to a particular publication, the standard rate for an article is $40. You can use this piece of information as a price conditioning tool, by referring the client to it, or referencing it in your sales copy.

This can serve to raise their expectation of the price of your articles. (For this to be effective, you’d need to combine this with establishing value and building desire.)

Here’s how it works…

Let’s say Peter comes to your writing website, looking to have some articles written, with an expectation in mind of $5 an article. Your prices are $20 an article, but you “hide” your prices in such a way that he can’t easily find it until he has read at least some of your copy. (We’ll talk about how you can do this in Part #5 of this series).

Your copy skillfully establishes value and builds desire, so he gradually comes to realize all the things that truly high quality articles can deliver for him, such as credibility, authority, subscribers and sales…

… and your copy price conditions him, so he comes to realize his $5 expectation was far too low… but now he’s a little bit scared because you seem be implying that these good quality articles are going to cost him $40, $50 or even $60 an article.

He really wants the kind of quality and results you seem to be offering (you’ve built strong desire) BUT he’s scared of what your prices are going to be. Finally, he gets to discover your pricing… and is relieved that it’s only $20 an article!

He places his order.

Can you see the difference? Without building desire, establishing value, and price conditioning, your $20 articles seem expensive to him, because you’ve done nothing to change his expectation of $5 an article.

And if he can easily find your prices without having to read your copy, he may well pass on reading it, simply because $20 is “expensive” in his mind.

Price conditioning is about changing the potential client’s perspective on your prices, so that they no longer see your prices as “expensive” but as “reasonable” or even “less than they expected”.

But you might not get to do any of that if he’s already decided you’re “too expensive”, and left before he even reads the copy… a major problem if your prices are easy to find.

Price conditioning is a immensely powerful technique, but I can’t do it justice in a blog post, which is why I’d urge you to grab yourself a copy of Write To More Money if you can. I can promise you that knowing and using this technique (in combination with establishing value and building desire) will give you a major advantage over writers and copywriters who don’t know and use it (and I’ve really only touched on it in this post).

In Part #5 of this series, I’m going to give you some ideas on how to ethically “hide” your prices, or at least delay the potential customer from finding out your prices, until you’ve had the chance to establish value, build desire and price condition. (There are many more creative options, besides simply putting your prices on your order form, or leaving them off altogether.)

3 comments

  1. This series of articles has been amazingly beneficial, and radically changed my thoughts about how to present my copy, which is awesome, because I’m working on a new product right now. Thank you for this invaluable content, and I look forward to the next part of the series.

    I’ll have to remember these articles for when I build my writing resource link-list. :)

  2. Great article and the whole series as well. I found this blog by accident today after I was argued about the same question (hiding prices) but in another market, and hopefully it will prove my point.

    Just one suggestion :) Add a link to this post in the post #3 as I almost missed the sequel ;)

  3. I had no idea this is what I was doing in my own ghostwriting business.

    I just knew I knew it, but you’ve broken it down to where I understand
    why I could charge more than more writers…which, if I were still in the
    writing business, I would use to double my prices again.

    Bookmarked this blog. This stuff is gold.

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