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.

Ripping Apart The “Prevention” Example Sales Letter (Part 1)

Last post I shared with you a PDF file called The Greatest Sales Letters Of All Time, edited by John Jantsch. (You can download it here if you haven’t already done so.)

Today, let’s go through one of the sales letters, to see why it worked so well. The one I’d like to review is Sales Letter #5, which sells a subscription to Prevention magazine. (This, by the way, is a direct mail letter that was actually mailed out.)

The first thing that immediately stands out to me is that…

There is no headline. The letter assumes it already has the reader’s attention, by virtue of the fact that they are reading the letter. This probably works best for a physical letter, because if you’ve already opened the envelope, you’ve already made a commitment to yourself to at least look at the letter.

Notice also the friendly, personal tone. It’s written almost like one friend writing to another, and it ends with a signature from the writer, Sandy Gibb.

It begins by immediately telling a story, which is something we humans like to hear.

What I liked about the story is that, while Sandy Gibb highlighted the wisdom of her grandmother (in recommending only the healthy stuff), she was quick to deal with the mental objection that “grandmother was hopelessly out of date” – by recalling back to how healthy they were back then, compared to what was happening with food and chemicals in the present time.

Notice also how Sandy’s observations are sufficiently vague, to allow readers to recall their own specific examples. For example…

I was stunned by the number of foods that were almost completely “fake” – most of the good things had been taken out and chemical substitutes put in.

By making it Sandy’s observation, it becomes a fact that can’t be disputed. We could perhaps dispute the nature of Sandy’s observation, but we can’t dispute that Sandy was “stunned” by her observation.

The next sentence builds upon this, and makes it an indisputable fact:

You read about threats and dangers to your health like these every day. In almost every newspaper and magazine you open.

So by this point, it is assumed the reader accepts that there are “threats” and “dangers” to their health – the problem has been explained (and hopefully accepted), and now they are in a better position to accept the solution.

In Part 2 we’ll examine how the solution is presented, in such a way as to build desire for the product. You won’t want to miss it, so make sure you’re signed up to receive free updates to this CopySnips blog.

Are These The Greatest Sales Letters Of All Time?

I recently came across a great little resource edited by John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, and since he gave permission to distribute it freely, I thought I’d share it with you good folks here at the blog.

It’s a 25 page PDF document called The Greatest Sales Letters Of All Time… and it contains 5 actual sales letters, written to sell products such as a subscription to Newsweek magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and a 20 volume Popular Mechanics Do-It-Yourself Encyclopedia.

These are “sales letters” in the traditional sense of the world – in other words, actual letters posted out to a mailing list. Still, regardless of whether you write to sell for the Web or in print, or even if you’re just here to learn about how to write copy, this is a great resource – you get to see the persuasive devices used by these well-known companies to sell their products through the written word.

We can learn a lot from these sales letters. You’ll notice, for example, the lack of hype. Yes, they’re enthusiastic for their products. (I’d particularly like to buy those Do-It-Yourself Encylopedias!) But they all carefully stay within the bounds of credibility. (Perhaps they can do so easily because these companies are, for the most part, pretty well known.)

Keep this resource handy on your computer, because I’ll be referring to it over the coming days and weeks, as I point out some of the specific persuasive devices being used, so make sure you’re subscribed to this blog as well.

You can download The Greatest Sales Letters Of All Time here.

In return, I’d be grateful if you could refer your friends and colleagues to this post, so we can expand the conversation about it here at

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.

How To Eliminate Objections Using Headlines…

I recently stumbled across a headline… by sheer accident, honest!… of the squeeze page for David DeAngelo’s main dating product for men, the ebook Double Your Dating. (A “squeeze page” is basically a web page designed to collect the visitor’s email address before allowing them to go any further.)

A while back I spent some time reverse engineering his entire sales process and analyzing his sales letters to show you precisely what clever and sneaky copywriting devices he was using to compel people to buy.

Well, it seems like he’s changed his squeeze page. It’s now a video, along with a clever headline which I wanted to talk about. The new headline is…

dyd-headlineThis headline does something quite clever, because when the average guy thinks about “learning how to meet and attract beautiful women”, one of the thoughts that might pop into his head might be, “I need to be tall, rich or handsome to do that!”

So the headline immediately tackles that objection head on: “… even if you aren’t tall, rich or handsome”.

This is a great technique to use whenever you’re making a bold or remarkable claim, especially in a headline. First, think about the claim you’re making… then think of the objections people might raise to that claim… and then, reverse those objections immediately.

Let’s come up with another example. You have an information product that teaches people to speak fluent French. A major objection to this might be that a potential customer doesn’t have the time to learn. So you could tackle this objection immediately in the headline by saying something like,

“Learn How To Speak French Fluently… In Just 5 Minutes A Day”

Of course, you’ll want to make sure the product or service you’re offering can do what is promised. Just remember, your potential customers will always be raising objections to what you say, so the quicker you can address them, the greater your chances they will read on.

So can you address at least one major objection in the headline? You don’t have to be tall, rich or handsome to use this technique!

How To Instantly Transform Poor Copy Into Great Copy

One of the world’s greatest marketing experts, Jay Abraham, is about to reveal to you a superbly simple technique for transforming poor or average copy into spectacular copy just about instantly, and it doesn’t have to cost you a penny.

If you haven’t got time to watch the following 10 minute video, then I’ve provided a summary of his key points below, but you really MUST watch it… several times:

What’s amazing to me is Jay’s admisson that it took him years to figure this out, and yet here he is handing this technique out to us on a plate, in this video. So thank you, Jay Abraham.

The technique itself is deceptively simple. It involves using not only to do your market research, but also to get laser focused phrases you can use in your copy, that will touch your target audience and create empathy with them. Here is a summary of the suggestions, but please watch the video if you can – it will be 10 minutes well spent:

(1) Go to, and type in the keywords related to your niche. Look at the titles and subtitles of the products for “the big payoff”, i.e. the key benefits being offered. You can use these for your own headlines and subheadlines. (Each subheadline in your copy, every 4-6 paragraphs, should summarize the “big payoff” for the content below it.)

(2) Go to the reviews of each product. The editorial reviews usually contain good, professional copy that sells the book for Amazon.

(3) However, the customer reviews contain the polarization, where people either love it or hate it. These are (usually) real people writing their honest, heartfelt thoughts and feelings about the product. Pay attention to what people loved about it, and especially the phrases they use. Adapt these phrases for YOUR copy. Also pay attention to what people hated about it, so you can move your readers away from these things in your copy.

According to Jay Abraham, this is one way to make poor performing copy great instantly. Of course, you should watch the video because there’s even more valuable information in there than I could cover in this post. So what do you think of Jay Abraham’s “School Of Amazon” technique?

The Power Of “Because”

Few words in English have more power and importance than “because”. We are literally conditioned to respond to this word. That’s because, when we were children, and our parents told us to do something, we might have whined, “Why do I have to…?” And usually the response would be, “Because I told you so!”… and that would be it. You’d do as you were told.

Also, the human mind constantly seeks the reason for things. When we were children we might have frequently asked why this, and why that. As adults, we might not ask those questions quite as much, but we still often want to know why. What’s more, having a reason gives us an excuse for accepting the request.

Why am I telling you about the power of because? It’s because this knowledge will help you sell more, and get what you want more often. (And I’m guessing that might be of interest to you?)

Let me give you a solid example: Persuasion expert Kevin Hogan made a tiny change to a one minute telemarketing script for a charity, and increased the response rate by nearly 30%.

Maybe you’re wondering, “What was that tiny change?” He altered the ending of the script from “please donate”, to “please donate… because it’s important.”

Bam. A nearly 30% increase in response. That’s the power of because.

Give people reasons to comply with your request. Not only does it satisfiy the rational part of their mind, it gives them the excuse to comply.

“Buy now, because the sooner you start, the faster you’ll get results.”
“Place your order now, because your business is important to us.”

And while you’re here, make sure you subscribe to this blog, because I’d like to share with you more tips on getting what you want on a regular basis, and because you’ll want and need these tips to have more and greater success in writing, copywriting and in life.

Preselling – How To Presell And Get Visitors To Accept Your Sales Message

I was just reading an article over at AWAI Online entitled, “7 Words That Instantly Launched My Six-Figure Copywriting Career…” Go and read it, and then come back here, because I want to talk to you about how that article used the concept of preselling in a smart way.

The story was a clever example of preselling. Basically, the article talked about how the author (Jay White) met famous marketer Alex Mandossian at a copywriting seminar, and how that encounter led to him writing copy for Alex, and to getting other work from “several million-dollar clients worldwide”.

However, the story functions as a presell for his advice near the end of the article, which is to attend AWAI’s copywriting bootcamp.

The story is “preselling” because it wasn’t directly “selling” the seminar. It was designed put the reader in the right frame of mind to accept the sales message. By the time the reader finished the story, they might be thinking, “Wow, could it really be that easy? So it’s just a question of being in the right place at the right time?”

Over on my blog at I wrote an article about preselling, and I used this analogy:

If sex is the sale, then I was going to say that preselling is the foreplay. But it’s not even that. Preselling is the teasing, flirting and playful touching that gets ‘em in the mood in the first place!

That’s what Jay White’s story did. It got readers in the mood. They heard his story of meeting Alex Mandossian at a copywriting seminar, and it got them thinking, “Wow, I wouldn’t mind some of that!” And only after telling his story, did he suggest that’s why they should go to AWAI’s latest copywriting bootcamp.

Think about it. He could have started his article by saying something like, “Here’s why I think you should attend the latest bootcamp.” Instead, he presold them on the idea with his story. He engaged them in the “teasing, flirting and playful touching” that led naturally to the outcome.

We’ll talk more about the power of preselling on this blog here at, so please… whatever you do, don’t miss out – grab yourself a free subscription to this blog and keep all these things fresh in your mind. If you’re feeling generous to your Twitter followers, you may even want to retweet this blog post and share it with them.

Puppy Dog Close – Do You Use It In Your Sales Letters?

The "puppy dog close" can increase sales

The "puppy dog close" can increase sales

I’ve known about the “puppy dog close” for a while, but sometimes I forget to use all the stuff I know, so here’s my chance to share it with you, and at the same time, remind myself of what I need to be doing.

First of all, here’s the pyschological principle behind the technique, and then I’ll reveal the technique itself.

People are more likely to finish something when it is framed as something they have already started, rather than if it’s framed as something they have yet to start.

For example, let’s say you go to your local bookstore, and they give you a leaflet. On it, there is room for 5 stamps, and every time you buy a book from them, you get a stamp. When you reach 5 stamps, they give you a free book of your choice.

Now, here’s what researchers discovered:

You are more likely to complete the book of stamps if it has already started to be filled in. In other words, if you’re given the leaflet and it already has a stamp on it, you’re more likely to get the other stamps, than if you’d been given a leaflet with no stamps!

What’s more, you’ll also complete the collection of stamps more quickly when there is one stamp already on it (even after taking into account the obvious fact that you’ve been given the first stamp).

Here’s how I’ll be using this principle. I’m about to do a marketing test for my report, Write To More Money.

What I’ll be doing is allowing people to read some of it without having to pay. There are two reasons why this should increase sales. First, it’s like the first stamp in the leaflet – if people have started reading it, they are more likely to want to continue, than if they haven’t started at all. Second, the content of the report should hopefully convince people to want to keep reading.

This is similar to what salespeople call the puppy dog close, where you give people the product to try out for a few days. After all, who could resist buying a puppy dog if they had a chance to take it home and look after it for a couple of days?

In the case of giving away part of an information product, one thing you can test, if possible, is just how much you should let them read. Common sense would say, give them as much as possible… but marketing doesn’t always conform to the laws of “common sense”. Since my report is over 90 pages long, I might test 10, 20, 30 and 40 pages and see which results in the highest sales.

If you’re selling an information product, let people read a certain portion of it without having to pay. Get them hooked into the content. If you’re selling a membership site, give them a trial subscription period. If you’re selling software, let them download a trial version. If you’re selling a service, give them a sample that gets them hooked on buying from you. (For example, write them Part 1 of a 3 part series, as the sample! If they want the rest, they need to buy from you.)

Let them “take the puppy home”, as it were. Let the sample be the cute little puppy that nobody can resist!