Joe Sugarman's Triggers - Our President Drives a Rabbit

Submitted by Dmitri Davydov on Sat, 2007-10-06 11:45.
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Even if you are a multimillionaire, you want to know that you are not being taken advantage of, and, even more importantly, that you are getting value for your financial investment.

In my advertising, I always want to convey, through examples or by comparison, that what the customer is buying is a good value. A typical element in one of my ads is where I compare my prices to products with similar features and point out that I’m providing a better value.

For example, in an ad I wrote for a pinball game that I was selling for $600, I wanted to justify the purchase by comparing its value not just to a similar product (as there were none on the market in this category) but to other home entertainment products, such as a TV set or a stereo system.

By comparing your product with others and proving its value, you are providing the prospect with the logic from which he or she can justify a purchase.

One of the techniques that I used a great deal when I was competing against brand-named products was showing value by specific comparisons. The following was a highlighted area of an ad for the $59.95 DataKing 800 calculator:

America’s leading brand-name calculator is the Texas Instruments calculator. TI recently announced their new TI 2550 memory unit for $99.95. That same calculator is now outdated by the introduction of the 800. The TI 2550 uses rechargeable batteries and has a small display and the older chain memory system. Compare price, features, performance and dependability and you can easily see why the DataKing is America’s greatest memory calculator value.

Sometimes I’ve pointed out a cost savings and justified the value with a tongue-in-cheek approach. The following is an ad I wrote for the Olympus micro recorder:

Headline: Endorsement Battle

Subheadline: A famous golf star endorses the Lanier. Our unit is endorsed by our president. You’ll save $100 as a result.

Copy: Judge for yourself. That new Olympus micro recorder shown above sells for $150. Its closest competition is a $250 recorder called the Lanier endorsed by a famous golf star.

Fancy Endorsement: The famous golf star is a pilot who personally flies his own Citation jet. The Olympus recorder is endorsed by JS&A’s president who pilots a more cost-efficient single engine Beechcraft Bonanza. The golf star does not endorse the Lanier unit for free. After all, a good portion of his income is derived from endorsing products.

Our president, on the other hand, does not get paid for endorsing products—just for selling them. And his Bonanza is not as expensive to fly as the golf star’s Citation. In fact, our president also drives a Volkswagen Rabbit.

I then continued to show how inefficiently the Lanier was sold (through a direct selling organization) and how efficiently the Olympus was sold (via direct marketing and through my company, JS&A.) The conclusion: savings of $100 for an even better product—all because our product wasn’t endorsed by an expensive spokesperson nor sold by a direct selling organization.

Simply educating the reader to the intrinsic value of your product is equivalent to lowering its price, or at a minimum providing greater value. In short, there is a value associated with the education you are providing your prospect and your prospect will be willing to pay more as a result. This is as true in personal selling as it is for a mail order ad.

There will always be a question in the mind of the consumer, “Am I buying the product at the best price?” Once again, you must first bring up the question and then resolve it with your price comparison or price information, or you are not communicating effectively with your prospect.

If I were selling my home, I would point to the extra quality features that I had put into it: the oversized commercial drain in the shower, the additional power outlets I had installed. In short, I’d show value by virtue of all the work in the home that isn’t apparent to a casual observer. I would educate my prospect.

No matter what I was selling, I’d express proof that I was providing real value to the prospect and that I was providing more than anybody else. In short, it is up to me to visibly demonstrate, by example, that the product I am offering will, in the long haul, give more value than any other choice possible. Period.

There is one more aspect of the value trigger that is very important in the selling process. When I am selling in print, I have noticed that when I offer two versions of a product, it is best to offer the less expensive model first or as your featured item. For example, if I were offering a blood pressure unit, I would offer my $99.95 version as the main item I am offering. Then I would offer the $149.95 deluxe unit as an alternative.

The prospect would often, depending on the nature of the product, be attracted by the lower price but then buy the deluxe version. Nevertheless, when I’ve asked my customers who bought the more expensive unit what they bought, they often told me that they bought the $99.95 blood pressure unit, not the deluxe version. In short, the lower price point seems to be stamped in their minds as the one they bought, even though they actually bought the more expensive unit.

In the desire to get value and the lowest possible price, the prospect completely ignores reality to satisfy the ego needs of getting the best possible price and value. The lower price point also seems to attract a prospect’s interest. Then, once the prospect gets involved in reading the sales copy, he or she can be sold on the more expensive model. More total readers are attracted by putting in a lower price point, so more sales are generated.

In the personal selling scenario, there is a different approach to use. In your retail advertising, I would offer only the lower-priced product, to attract potential shoppers. Then, once the shopper was in the store, I would pitch the more expensive product first to get the prospect eventually to see the lower-priced model as a greater value.

For example, if I were offering two versions of the blood pressure unit, I’d offer the more expensive $149.95 model first. Then, shortly thereafter, when I present the less expensive $99.95 model, it will seem considerably cheaper than if I had just presented it in the first place. In short, you can take a $99.95 product that was perceived as being expensive—simply by presenting a similar product at $149.95 first.

The $99.95 product suddenly seems like it is indeed a bargain.

This technique is often used in personal selling. I know. I’ve been offered the opportunity to participate in some major sporting event as a sponsor. I would be offered the most expensive sponsorship package they had. Then, when I hesitated, the salesman was prepared with a much less expensive package that seemed like a bargain compared to the original one. And I ended up buying the less expensive package.

Had the less expensive version been offered first, I probably would have thought twice about that package as well. But the order in which a value is presented definitely plays a major role in how we respond to the offer.

I’ve seen this technique used often in fund raising. An effective fund raiser will ask for an outrageous amount and then continue to drop the request until it seems like a bargain, even though, it would have seemed expensive had the “bargain” been presented first.

When you justify the price of your product or service, you add value to your offer and give the prospect one more logical reason to buy.

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