Hiding Prices #2 – What Makes Something Affordable To Us?

In this series we’re asking why some marketers hide their prices, and whether you should do the same. In Hiding Prices #1, I explained that most people skim a sales letter to find a price, because they want to know the answer to the question, “Can I afford this?”

However, affordability is a “fuzzy” issue. It depends partly on perception and desire.

From a simplistic point of view, affordability is about whether we have enough cash or credit to buy something. In this sense, for the average person in the USA, $7 is probably “affordable”. It’s the cost of a hamburger.

But for these same people, $7,000 is not an impulse buy. It’s serious money. Most people don’t have $7,000 tucked away in their bank. In real, cash terms, they “can’t afford” it.

However, this is where it gets “fuzzy”… if we really want something, we’ll often find ways of paying for it. After all, few of us can afford to buy a house. But when we want somewhere to live, we’ll go to the bank manager, who arranges for us to pay for the house in monthly chunks spread out over 25 or 30 years. We find a way to make it affordable.

If we really want that vacation, or that car, or the latest iPhone, not having the money doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t buy it. We might put it on our credit card, ask the bank manager for a loan, or ask friends and family to lend us the money.

Or we do it the traditional and perhaps more sensible way… we save up for it. Or maybe we put in more overtime at work, or aim for the bigger bonus, or more commission.

In other words, when we really want something, we’ll beg, steal, borrow (and even, radical idea… save up or earn more) to find the money. We find ways to make it affordable for ourselves.

So then, whether we feel we can “afford” something is closely related to our desire for it. But here’s the problem when a person skims the copy of our sales letter to find the price:

Unless they are ready to buy, strong desire hasn’t been built yet.

Every copywriter knows that part of the role of the sales copy is to build strong desire for the product. But when the potential customer knows the price before they have strong desire, they can easily rationalize that they can’t afford it, or they don’t need it.

Read that last sentence again. It’s very important. Without a desire for something, we can easily rationalize we can’t afford it, or don’t need it.

In other words, knowing the price too early can create a BARRIER for building strong desire.

For example, let’s say you sell a seminar for $1,000. If that’s all they know, most people naturally focus on the $1,000 part, and whether they happen to have that amount in their bank account (and most people don’t), or whether they feel they can add another digit to their credit card debt.

Sure, you can still build the desire even if they know the price in advance, but knowing the price will often cloud their judgment as to the value of the seminar. It doesn’t matter if you tell them the seminar is worth $10,000 to them. The value of it has already been set in their mind… at $1,000.

This brings me to another important reason some copywriters and marketers “hide” the price: “price value” versus what I call “personal value”, something that is often easily confused. Make sure you read Part #3 of this series tomorrow.

(By the way, my aim with this series is not to convince you to hide your prices. In fact, there are times when it works to your advantage to reveal the price early on, which I’ll explain later in this series. My goal is to help you fully understand why it’s done, so you can make a better decision as to whether to do it or not.)