How Supermarkets Fool You Into Buying More

Supermarkets and pricing

Supermarkets and pricing

I have to marvel at some of the psychological pricing “tricks” supermarkets use to “fool” us into buying more.

I was in the supermarket the other day, and I saw a 72 biscuit box of my favourite breakfast cereal, Weetabix, for £4.90. Now, since I don’t normally see boxes of that size (they normally come in smaller boxes of 24 biscuits), I assumed that was pretty decent value for money – and the average price in my local store for a smaller box was about £2, so I knew this was cheaper than my local store. (Locally, it would cost me £6 for the same number of biscuits).

But then I thought, “Wait… let me check”. So I looked at the price of the 24 biscuit boxes, and they were £1.50.

“Wait a minute,” I thought to myself, puzzled. “I could buy 3 of these smaller boxes [3 x £1.50 = £4.50]… that would be the same number of biscuits as the larger box [£4.90], yet it would be cheaper!”

I grinned smugly to myself as I picked up 3 of the smaller boxes, thinking I had fooled the supermarket and saved myself 40 pence. (Oh, how wrong I was.)

I pointed this out to my brother, and then he said something that totally blew me away.

“So why are you buying 3 boxes?” he asked, casually.

At that moment, I suddenly realized how even more devilishly clever the supermarket was being. I had perceived that I was saving 40 pence by buying 3 individual boxes… but really, I was being “fooled” into buying 3 boxes when I didn’t need to!

At £1.50 for a box of 24 biscuits, I could just as easily have bought 1 or 2 of them… I didn’t need to buy all 3… but because I compared the price of 3 smaller boxes (£4.50) to the higher price of the larger 72 biscuit box (£4.90), I was “fooled” into thinking I’d be making a 40 pence saving by buying 3 smaller boxes!

“Fooled” is probably the wrong word, but the pricing was cleverly devised to get a poor sucker like myself to buy more than I might have done if the higher priced 72 biscuit box wasn’t there!

And if I hadn’t bothered calculating the values in my head, I may have ended up paying 40 pence more for the bigger box!

This highlights a principle I discussed in my report Pricing For Big Profits, that of the contrast principle – which shows that we often look at value in relative, rather than absolute terms.

It was this very principle that nearly led me to buy 3 boxes of Weetabix, when I didn’t really need to at all! I say “nearly”, because after I realized this, I put one of the boxes back… I didn’t need all 3!

I’d love to hear any stories like this that you might have. Please also feel free to share this post with your friends on Twitter.

5 Creative Ways To Hide Your Prices (Hiding Prices #5)

Hiding prices

Hiding prices

In this series we’ve been discussing the main reasons why some marketers and copywriters “hide” the price of their product or service. These reasons include wanting to first build strong desire and demonstrate affordability, to show the personal value is higher than the price value, and to change the potential client’s perception of the price – what I call “price conditioning”.

In this last post in the Hiding Prices series I’m going to end it with a bang and share with you some ways you can ethically “hide” your prices, while at the same time making them available to people who really want to know, and have actually read your copy.

Before I do that, I still haven’t answered the BIG question you may be wondering…

“Should I hide my prices or not?”

Only YOU can decide the answer to that. However, my personal suggestion is this:

If your price is a competitive advantage (i.e. you are cheaper than your competitors, or you have a special offer that can make even the skimmer recognize it as a good price), then you might want to do the opposite and make your price more prominent.

Or if your price is low enough that it could be considered an impulse buy, then you might want to leave it on display as normal.

However, if your prices are higher than the “industry standard”, or for very high prices, then I would suggest making your price less prominent or even using one of the techniques I’m about to share with you, because you’ll want to build desire, demonstrate affordability, and show the real value of what you have to offer, before they discover the price.

Otherwise they could use the “high” price (or higher than average price) as an excuse not to read your copy, or be put off by the price.

So then, let me now share with you…

5 Creative Ways Of Hiding Your Prices:

1. Use a new client offer.

Let’s face it, most people love offers. And for new clients, who have to overcome the uncertainty of using your services for the first time, they can be very attractive.

If you’re charging $20 for your service, and someone whom your potential client perceives to be a competitor is charging $10, then create an offer for new clients which makes your service seem more price competitive (i.e. $10 for new clients).

This enables you to emphasize the $10 price for new customers, while de-emphasizing your regular $20 price. Of course, it’s up to you deliver the kind of service that will make them want to come back, even at your regular price. And you’ll want to be upfront about the regular price, so they don’t think you’re suddenly doubling your prices next time round.

2. Break up your sales letter into multiple pages.

As I say that, I can already hear the guillotine being prepared for me by the copywriters who say you should NEVER DO THIS.

“You’ll lose visitors!” I hear them cry in a fit of rage. “Sure,” I would reply. “But all sales letters lose visitors. If your conversion rate is 2%, you’re losing 98% of visitors! At least this way you’ll know where you’re losing them.” If you put your price on Page 4, and 75% of your visitors never get that far, you know that PRICE is not the reason you’re losing that 75%. It’s your COPY.

Here are the advantages of breaking up your sales letter into smaller chunks:

  • It makes your sales letter look much less daunting. Make Page 1 fairly short and appealing, and use it to hook people into reading further.
  • You can focus on one or two specific benefit or thoughts per page. (I’d suggest making each page much smaller than a regular sales letter. Think of this approach as a series of short but fascinating articles leading them to the finale, rather than a “sales letter”).
  • You can track their progress through the sales letter, to find “bottlenecks” and “sticking points”. If you’re losing 75% of visitors on Page 3 of 4, you know that Page 3’s copy is the problem.
  • With each click, you can have them qualify themselves further, and they are also interacting with the copy. In other words, they are no longer passive but active readers.
  • You can “hide” the price on, say, Page 4 – after they’ve clicked through (and hopefully read) 3 short pages rich with benefits and desire building copy.

If you’re going to take this approach, then you’ll need to create highly compelling “cliffhangers” at the end of a page that compel people to click to the next page.

3. Use a $1 trial price.

For recurring billing services, have an X days $1 trial period, and emphasize the $1 price. Of course, before they buy, potential customers will still want to know the regular price, but having an initial trial price will at least relieve some of the psychological need to know the price too early.

Also, $1 allows you to bill them initially, and then rebill them automatically if they don’t cancel. Of course, you MUST (both ethically and legally) make sure they fully understand that they will be rebilled at the regular price before they place their order, but there’s no need to emphasize this at the start of your sales letter.

4. Make only the price of your “cut down” version visible at first.

Here’s the idea: Sell two versions of your product – a cheap, cut down version (at, say, $7)… and then your regular version (i.e. $47). When a new visitor initially scrolls down to skim the price, they see the $7 price, so they scroll back up to pay more attention to the actual copy.

Now, here’s the “sneaky” part. Near the order form, have two “radio” buttons. (These are like checkboxes, but you can only select one of a number of radio buttons). The first radio button is highlighted by default, and it’s for the cut down $7 version of your product. The second is for your main product.

However, your sales copy is primarily written to sell the main product. If they click the radio button for the main product, a little piece of Javascript shows the price of the main product, which was hidden before.

All the reader is doing is selecting the product, and the radio boxes toggle the order form between the two versions. By doing it this way, a skimmer may not notice you’re selling two versions… they would only discover this when they read your copy… which is what you want them to do, anyway.

5. Multiple “add on” options or price points.

For freelance writers and copywriters, one of the techniques I talk about in Write To More Money is to offer different levels of service at different price points, or different “add on” options for different features of your writing. This allows clients to choose the true level of quality they want.

For example, article writers could offer a Bronze, Silver and Gold service… with Bronze being basic “quality” articles that clients are going to use simply to generate backlinks to their site, or to have some content on their site. You might price this at, let’s say $5 or $10 an article.

By contrast, your Gold service is for content that truly shines, that is going to have other bloggers linking to you, that is going to cause readers to say, “Wow… I must read more from this person!”, or even pull out their wallets and purses. You might price your Gold service at, say $15 or $20 an article.

Or with the “add on” (or “upsell”) idea, you provide checkboxes for additional features. If you’ve read my report, you’ll recall I gave you lots of ideas for features you could incorporate into your writing for an additional fee.

When they check one of these “add on” boxes, the price automatically increases. (You can use Javascript to achieve this, or alternatively, many payment processors have a shopping cart facility that will do something similar.)

Again, make sure that skimmers can only see the price of your basic service. The price of the higher quality services, or the “add ons”, are hidden until the visitor actively clicks a checkbox or radio box. So skimmers see your basic price (which hopefully they will see as reasonable enough to read your copy in more detail) and then your copy should sell them on what you really want them to buy – your Gold service.

“But aren’t these misleading my potential clients?”

I respectfully disagree… they are misleading themselves if they think knowing the price in advance is going to help them!

Nobody buys anything without first knowing what they’re going to get for their money, so knowing the price in advance is a bit like reading the end of a book. You don’t know how good an ending it is, until you’ve read what comes before it!

By using one or more of these techniques, you’re helping the potential customer to slow down… and to not rush ahead to the end of the book.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this Hiding Prices series, and even if you still don’t think hiding prices is for you, I hope I’ve at least given you an idea as to why some people do it. Tomorrow I’m going to tackle yet another controversial topic – deadlines, urgency and the two most used words in a copywriter’s arsenal: “Buy now”.

Yes, those two words might provide the final trigger, but what really motivates a person to act upon something NOW, rather than later? The answers, I think, will shock and surprise you… so stay tuned to Copysnips FM.

Why Writing Headlines For Search Engines Like Google Will Get You More Readers

googleI’ll admit, for quite a long time I neglected a HUGE source of traffic to many of my sites – namely, search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing. And yet Google want to send you and I visitors to our sites and blogs – that’s their business!

So if you have a blog, Google would love to send you traffic… IF they can detect that your post is relevant to its users.

Headlines play an important role in Google deciding whether a page is relevant or not. And when it comes to writing headlines, many bloggers (and copywriters in particular) are great at coming up with witty, attention-grabbing ones that HUMANS  think are clever… but are lousy at attracting search engine traffic.

To my mind, that’s a big mistake. After all, search engines like Google can generate you a ton of traffic – and you don’t have to pay for it.

One of the keys to attracting this traffic is to optimize your headlines and posts for a particular keyphrase or set of keywords. (A keyphrase is just something that people would type into a search engine, such as “how to train your dog”.)

How important are keyphrase optimized headlines to Google? You can find out by running a couple of searches yourself, but let’s have a look at the Top 20 results for the phrase how to train your dog, in Google:

1. How To Train A Dog, dog training tips and techniques for home …
2. How To Train A Puppy | Puppy Training | Potty & House Training …
3. How to Train Your Dog Yourself |
4. How to Train Your Dog |
5. (Video results for how to train your dog)
6. Puppy and Dog Obedience Training
7. Training Your Dog
8. (News results for how to train your dog)
9. (Book results for how to train your dog)
10. Karen Pryor Clickertraining| dog training and cat training info …
11. How To Train Your Dog To Heel Off The Leash – Dog & Puppy Advice …
12. Teach Your Dog to Sit: Basic Dog Obedience Commands |
13. Train Your Dog – The Positive Gentle Method: Nicole …
14. [PDF] Crate Training Your Dog
15. HowStuffWorks “How to Train a Dog: Tips and Guidelines”
16. Secrets to Dog Training | Dog Obedience Training to Solve Dog
17. Easy Dog Training, Dog & Puppy Obedience Training, Dog Grooming
18. Dog Training and Obedience Lessons
20. How to Train Your Dog & Puppy Obedience Training by the Experts

You’ll notice that none of the results in the Top 20 could be said to be particularly clever headlines, but ALL OF THEM contain some or all of the keywords in the phrase “how to train your dog”, or related words such as “training”, “teach” and “puppy”.

(Incidentally, in your searches you might find a clever and witty headline in the Top 10, but I’m willing to bet it’s on an already popular blog that is already well ranked on Google, OR the keyphrase is not very popular.)

In other words, the headline of your blog post is important to Google, because it determines how relevant the post might be to Google searchers. (It’s certainly not the only factor, but it IS a factor).

So here’s two steps you can take to increase your chances of generating Google traffic to your next blog post:

(1) If people wanted to find the information you wrote about in your post, ask yourself what keywords they might use in Google.

For example, this article is about writing headlines to generate more search engine traffic, so I think the main keywords would be: writing headlines search engines Google.

Don’t pick too many, otherwise you’ll find step 2 very difficult, which is…

(2) Create a good headline based around those keywords.

Remember, Google and humans have different ideas about what makes a “good” headline. For Google, it’s about RELEVANCE. If someone types in “how to write headlines for Google”, I would love for this post to show up… and it’s more likely to do that IF my headline reflects these keywords somehow.

So how do I get from “writing headlines search engines Google” to something that seems like a pretty decent headline for both humans and Google? For this post, I wrote down a brief statement of what the article is about, using those keywords:

Writing headlines that pull search engine traffic from Google, that humans also enjoy.

Then I thought about incorporating the benefits of doing this, which is “you get more traffic… and hopefuly blog readers”. So let’s see if I can convert that into a headline:

Why Writing Headlines For Search Engines Like Google Will Get You More Readers

Now, I’ll be the first to admit it’s not the cleverest headline in the world… BUT it’s nicely optimized to pick up traffic from Google for anyone searching for the subject of writing headlines for search engines. (Oh, and if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice the CONTENT of this post is doing that as well.)

Headlines are by no means the only thing Google uses, but it’s a factor, because a headline that closely matches the keyword search is likely to be relevant. So before you use that clever and witty headline, ask yourself:

If people are searching for that topic on Google, will my headline help them to find it?

By the way, I’m not telling you to stop using clever and witty headlines. I’m simply saying that, Google is a robot, a machine that attempts to deduce value and relevance automatically. So if you want Google traffic, clever and witty is not machine readable… but keyword optimized headlines are.

A Secret To Commanding Higher Rates For Your Freelance Writing Service

Before I show you the secret to commanding higher rates for your freelance writing, understand the following about your potential clients: They don’t care about YOUR TIME. To a certain extent, they don’t even care about YOU. What they really care about is the VALUE you bring to something.

Regardless of what you charge (whether it’s $5 or $50 an article), they want value for their money. They want to know precisely what your services are going to do for them in terms of adding value. With that in mind, here’s the big secret I promised you:

The secret to commanding higher rates for your freelance writing is simply to sell the value of your writing.

Let me explain.

The most valuable skill you can have as a freelance writer (after being able to write, of course) is that of selling.

If you can’t sell yourself and your writing, you’ll struggle getting clients, or you’ll always be competing on price.

Despite what some people think, selling isn’t a dirty word. Think of it like this: selling is really about conveying the value of what you offer to your potential clients.

Take a look at the following two examples, and tell me which one you think conveys value:

Example 1:

I have 23 years writing experience, I went to the Yale Academy of Awesome Writing, and I will write you a well written, high quality blog article of 500 words for $10.

Example 2:

Your blog needs writing that captures the immediate attention of your readers, and holds on to that attention right through to the end. It leaves them with the feeling of “Wow, I want more from this writer!” It leaves them wanting to subscribe, and come back for more… giving you the chance to sell to them over and over again.

This kind of writing builds YOU as the authority, and each one of these articles on your blog creates an opportunity to make a sale, either immediately or over time. I will write one of these blog posts for you, of about 500 words, for $10.

Can you see the difference? The first example tells me the writer’s credentials, and it promises “well written”, “high quality” writing – but doesn’t every freelance writer do this?

The second example shows the VALUE the potential client will get. This is selling.

This is why it helps to be a copywriter. Copywriters know how to sell the benefits of a product, and they appreciate the need to do exactly the same thing with their own writing service.

Assuming both writers were equally good at writing, I’d pick #2 simply because that writer is focused on the RESULTS for their client.

And ultimately, clients only care about results. Value for money, and results.

So as a freelance writer, stop focusing on YOU. Focus on THEM. Show and demonstrate the VALUE you can bring to their business, and the RESULTS they could get from your services.

Look at Examples #1 and #2 again and notice how the first example focuses on me, me, me… which clients don’t really care about. The second focuses on them and what they will get out of the writing.

Show them VALUE. Show them RESULTS. That is the secret to commanding higher rates.

How To Earn $0.10 A Word For Your Freelance Writing

Last post we talked about why you should value your content and I showed how an article on a decent blog could easily be worth $100 or more. However, I know that many freelance writers struggle to command rates anywhere near that.

So today I want to give you an example of a writer and copywriter who has no problem charging $50 for a 500 word article (that’s $0.10 a word), and I’ll give you three key reasons why she’s able to do that (and you can do, as well). By the end of this article you’ll have some fresh ideas for your own writing service, and by the end of the series of articles (all this week) your mind will be bursting with new and fresh ideas for your writing service!

Lisa Giannetti is currently ranked #2 out of about 270,000 service providers at, a place where service providers bid for jobs. (And since the top company does programming only, she’s really the #1 rated writer and copywriter there.)

Here’s an excerpt from the bidding page where she won the bid to write an article for an internet marketer (and pay careful attention to ALL the bid prices):

Article in **** niche

I need a high quality, original content article written that is optimized for the keyword phrase “****”.

View All Bid Responses

8/13/2009 9:45:50 AM *** 10 (Excellent) out of 24 ratings. $20.00
8/13/2009 12:03:56 PM *** 8.83 (Superb) out of 6 ratings. $10.00
8/13/2009 2:26:42 PM *** 10 (Excellent) out of 4 ratings. $15.00
8/13/2009 4:04:22 PM *** 9.98 (Excellent) out of 56 ratings. $15.00
8/14/2009 2:21:23 PM *** 8.33 (Very Good) out of 3 ratings. $10.00
8/15/2009 6:13:38 PM *** 9.85 (Excellent) out of 381 ratings. $15.00
8/16/2009 1:56:20 PM *** 9 (Superb) out of 1 ratings. $25.00
8/17/2009 11:48:11PM Lisa_G 9.89 (Excellent) out of 1525 ratings. $50 (was accepted)

Notice the range of prices offered before Lisa’s bid – from $10 to $25. At $50, her bid was twice the second highest bid… and yet it won!

Here’s what the client said when he accepted Lisa’s bid:

“Hi Lisa, I am very excited about this article. I have never paid more than $10 for an article before and I think the quality or lack of showed.”

You should read this comment two or three times, and really let it sink in. This guy was genuinely excited about paying more than he was used to – that is, paying no more than $10 an article and seeing a “lack of” the kind of quality he wanted. So he was ready and eager to pay more, for the virtual certainty of getting what he really wanted.

Here’s what he said after she delivered the article:

“Hi Lisa, The article is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you very much”

Now, before you jump to conclusions and double your prices right away, you need to understand the three main reasons I think Lisa is able to consistently charge more for her writing:

(1) She delivers quality.

As I talk about in my report Write To More Money, everyone says they offer “high quality” writing. But many writers (especially the very cheap ones) don’t deliver it. Instead, the client gets boring, spun and barely researched articles. (Some clients are after that, it’s true… but many want real quality, not just a rehash of someone else’s content.)

The difference between them and Lisa is that, based on her experience, she knew exactly what the client really wanted from his article, and delivered it.

(2) She has built a solid reputation.

I’d say the rating and reviews you get on sites like Elance or RentACoder are far more important than testimonials on your own site, because the rating systems on those sites are considered by clients as independent of you. After all, you can easily edit, pick and choose the testimonials you use on your site, but you can’t do that with the reviews your clients will leave you on outsourcing sites.

And let’s face it, in Lisa’s case, scoring 9.89 out of 10 over 1,500 jobs gives you a strong, credible reputation that can be trusted.

For example, here’s just one of the many reviews left for Lisa which also gives additional insights into why they picked her:

Let’s see… She is the #2 coder on RAC and has phenomenal feedback and an amazing portfolio. I lost any bargaining power when I basically bowed down and gushed over her skills before she bid. Despite that, when she did bid, it was still less than I would have expected for someone of her caliber.

Then she started on my project sooner than she estimated and also finished it sooner than she estimated. She was a pleasure to work with, easy and quick to communicate with, and even improved our layout a bit, which wasn’t part of my bid… just something that a true professional like Lisa does simply because it *should* be done.

Not sure how I can give her better feedback, but if there was a rating of 11, she would deserve it. Pretty rare in this world to find such a great partner. I guess now I know why she is rated so highly over an incredible 1,600+ jobs as I write this.

Thanks Lisa, truly excellent work – will definitely hire you again, and soon!

Scott Harvey

For that reason alone it’s worth building up a profile on at least one major outsourcing site, such as Elance or RentACoder, to enhance your credibility – and then let potential clients read your profile.

Bonus Tip: Study profiles like Lisa’s, to see exactly WHY she is so highly rated. These clients of hers are telling you, in their own words, why they were willing to pay more.

(3) She asks for more!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you don’t ask, you won’t get. Lisa wouldn’t have earned $50 for that article, had she not asked for it. Lisa herself freely admits she doesn’t win all the bids:

“I win 30% of my bids. That means my competitors win 70% all combined. But here’s the key: I work 30% as hard as they do and I make more money doing it.

If person “A” bids $10 for a 500 word article and I bid $50, and assuming it takes us each 1 hour to write it. I made $50 per hour and they made $10.

They have to do 5 times the work I do to earn the same amount. I can lose 4 bids to them and still end up with the same amount of money in my pocket.”

I appreciate it’s not easy for many writers to even consider raising their prices, which is why I wrote an entire 90+ page report on the subject of asking for, and getting more money for your writing.

Tomorrow I want to reveal to you another secret to commanding higher rates, used by the top writers, that even newcomers can use right away. So you’ll want to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss this valuable advice – which could make all the difference to you.