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.

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.)

Hiding Prices #3 – Price Value Versus Personal Value

(This is a continuing discussion of why marketers and copywriters “hide” their prices at times. You can read Hiding Prices #1 and Hiding Prices #2).

Imagine I were to offer you a PDF report for $1,000. Would you buy it?

You’d probably say No, simply because you don’t have enough information on the product, or any real desire for it. So at this point, the price is irrelevant.

Or you might think that $1,000 is way overpriced for a PDF report.

What if I told you this report was worth $10,000 to you… but you could have it for $1,000? Would you buy it now?

You’d still probably say No – because, other than taking my word for it, you have no way of knowing what the report is truly worth to you. (I’ve told you it’s “worth” $10,000… but right now that’s probably an empty claim to you.)

Now, let’s add one additional piece of information. Suppose this PDF report contained next week’s winning lottery numbers, for a $16.7 million lottery prize.

For $1,000… would you buy it now?

Aha… that changes things. Suddenly the contents of the report become very valuable to you indeed. You KNOW the value to you of next week’s lottery numbers… and the $1,000 price seems incredibly cheap.

Of course, this would raise other questions in your mind: How do I know the numbers in advance? Why would I sell these numbers, instead of using them myself? How many others are getting these numbers? Is this a scam? How can I guarantee the winning numbers?… and so on.

But my point here is this… now you know precisely what you’re going to get out of the report, you’d see the $1,000 price in a totally different perspective. If what I’m claiming to offer is true, the value to you is very clear, and so the price is probably seen as exceptional value, and you’d be crazy NOT to beg, steal or borrow to get the money.

Yet without knowing the true value of the report to you, it just seems like another overpriced report.

You see, there are two different ways of valuing a product, which are easily confused:

Price value. This is the value we attach to a product when we set its price. Ultimately, the price value of a $1,000 report is… well, $1,000!

Personal value. This is the value we personally get from the product. In the case of my example, the personal value of knowing those winning lottery numbers is easy to calculate – it’s up to $16.7 million!

Of course, personal value is often subjective. For example, if you had a technique that could double your customer’s sales within a week, only the customer can know what this technique would be worth to them. (As a copywriter you could always ask them the rhetorical question: “How much is knowing X worth to you?”)

And it’s not always about money. For a person suffering with a particular ailment, a report which tells them how to cure that ailment might be of immense personal value, or even priceless.

This is a great basis for a clearer definition of what we mean when we talk about value for money. We think something is good value for money when we are clearly getting more personal value from a product than the price value.

But knowing the price alone does not tell you whether it’s good value for money or not, just as in the case of my imaginary $1,000 report. This is why some copywriters and marketers hide their prices. They first want to build desire, and also demonstrate the potential personal value to the visitor, so the visitor can make a decision based on “value for money”, rather than on simply whether they can “afford it”.

After all, my $1,000 report might sound expensive and overpriced… until you realize what’s in it.

There is yet one other important reason why prices are “hidden” at times, and it’s to do with a negotiating secret you can also use with your clients, so make sure you’re subscribed to this blog so you won’t miss Hiding Prices #4, tomorrow.

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.)

Hiding Prices #1 – Should You Hide The Price Of Your Product?

Hiding prices

Hiding prices

When selling products online, a growing trend I see in some niches is to hide the price of the product. In other words, the visitor has to click the order button to find the price. In some cases, there is no price at all, and you have to contact someone to find out the cost.

On marketing forums I see many strong opinions on this issue, such as these real comments:

“I hate it when the price is hidden or I have to ‘hunt’ for it buried somewhere on the sales page…”

“Most of the time if I can’t find the price I assume that it must cost too much and I’m out of there!”

“I don’t like it when the price is hidden… that feels like a manipulation…”

Most people (including many marketers) don’t seem to fully understand why it’s done, so this week I’m going to explore WHY prices are often “hidden”.

This is important to know regardless of how you feel about the issue. You need to understand the thinking behind it, before you decide to do it, or not do it.

Today I want to answer the question, “Why?” Why hide the price from a potential customer? If they’re looking for a price, isn’t that a good indication they’re interested in buying?

Not necessarily. The fact is, most visitors to a site, especially when they are already aware something is being sold, are first of all skimmers.

Let’s say Sally comes to your website. She is there for a REASON. Maybe she’s just clicked a banner ad that promotes your product. Or maybe someone’s recommended your product to her.

Either way, she has an EXPECTATION in mind. That expectation has been formed by whatever preceded the click.

If her friend recommended your product, it’s the expectation that your product is relevant for her. If your banner ad made a promise, her expectation is to find out more about this promise.

Once she’s satisfied herself about her expectation, i.e. that the product is relevant, and/or it is going to deliver on the promise, the next thing that runs through her mind is,

“Can I afford this?”

And this is where she starts skimming to find the price.

This is also where the problem begins…

… because “affordability” is not simply a question of how much you have in your wallet or purse right now.

Tomorrow, in Part #2 of this series we’ll look at how people determine whether something is “affordable” to them or not, and the importance of “desire” to this process. You won’t want to miss this vital discussion, so please subscribe to this blog and not miss out.

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.