Joe Sugarman's Triggers - The Last Temptation of the Well Heeled

Submitted by Dmitri Davydov on Thu, 2007-10-18 07:52.
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Greed, in the form of attraction to bargains, is a very strong motivating factor. Many times I’ve bought things I didn’t need simply because they were such a bargain. You might even be like me and often fall into that trap.

But don’t hesitate to recognize greed as a very strong factor either for low-priced merchandise or for expensive products that have low prices. Too low a price may diminish your credibility unless you justify the low price. Many people are willing to risk something and take chances just to get more for their money. Greed is simply the psychological trigger you use when you provide the prospect with more value than he or she really feels entitled to.

In one of my earlier calculator ads in The Wall Street Journal, I offered a calculator for $49.95 and the manufacturer got really upset with me. “That product should have sold for $69.95 and now I have dealers all over the country calling me and complaining,” screamed the manufacturer.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’ll correct it.” So I ran a small ad in The Wall Street Journal
announcing my error, raising the price from $49.95 to $69.95 and giving consumers just a few days to respond at the old price. The ad outpulled the previous one, with people buying the calculator within those few days at $49.95 even though the size of the ad was considerably smaller. I had provided more value than the consumer felt entitled to as a result of my error.

Greed is not a technique that can be employed all the time. But it should be recognized as an effective element that, when properly employed, is a great trigger for making a sale because it plays on practically everybody’s weakness.

When you lower the price of a product, generally speaking, with very few exceptions, you’ll end up with an easier sale requiring less justification and less logic. Keep lowering the price, and you’ll create an enhanced emotional desire for that product that will defy all logic and any need to justify the purchase. In fact, go low enough and all sense of reason and logic is thrown out the window—the purchase becomes a completely emotional reaction with no credibility required. Of course, if you go too low you’ll have to add a little justification for the lower price, as it will start raising a few credibility issues with your prospects.

A good example was an ad I wrote to sell a printing press for $150,000 when the press normally sold for $650,000. In this instance, I mentioned that the first buyer disappeared after putting a sizable deposit down and had not been seen since. My prospects were able to take advantage of an opportunity that was indeed the truth. I called it “The Missing Person Sale” and it drew quite a response.

Greed is not a very positive human trait. But it exists, and it is a force to consider when communicating with your prospects. For example, if I had a product that had a retail price of $100 and had a customer to whom I could sell that product for $60 and make a profit, I might start out offering the product at $100.

Another very subtle example is a prospect who would rather pay $50 for a standard model of a product. I would first pitch the deluxe version for $150. Then, when I offered the lower-priced product, it would appear to be much cheaper than if I had presented it first. At first this may not seem like greed, but the lower price does generate a sense of greed in that it makes the lower price appear to have much more value.

If you lower the price of something, you will almost always sell more of that product. The intensity of salivation in your prospect’s greed glands will vary in proportion to the drop in price. There are very few exceptions to this rule, although I have indeed heard of exceptions. But often the exceptions don’t give all of the facts as they mislead you into thinking it is possible. If indeed there is an exception to this rule, there must be other factors in play that must also be analyzed.

In my seminars I taught my students a very important lesson about greed and the factors that come into play when you change the price of a product. It was during our creative session, when I was showing them how to get their creative juices flowing with the de Bono Think Tank. This is a spherical device that holds 14,000 words printed on small pieces of plastic, with a small window through which some of the words are visible. First I’d mix up all the words and then select somebody from the group to read out loud the first three words that he or she saw through the window of the Think Tank.

The rest of the class would then shout out ideas on a possible ad concept using those three words. For example, if the product was a treasure detector and the words were uncle, caterpillar, and deceive, the story line they created might be about this uncle who hides a treasure in a toy Caterpillar tractor and deceives everybody about its true whereabouts.

Somehow these elements would be used to sell something totally unrelated to the three words.

By using unrelated words, the thinker or writer has to get away from the traditional way of just telling about the features of a product and focus on some concept. The Think Tank is a tool that helps you break away from the traditional way of thinking and reach out to different combinations, relationships, and permutations from your vast mental network.

After I presented the exercise to the class and they saw the magic and fun of the Think Tank, the device really sold itself. I always waited for somebody in the class to raise his or her hand and ask, “Where can I buy one of those things?” I would then go into a sales pitch to prove several points. “The Think Tank costs only $19.95
wholesale, so if there’s anybody here who wants one, just raise your hand.” At that moment, all the participants raised their hands. And why not? The item looks like a lot more than $19.95 and for an aid to creativity and the help it provides, it makes a great purchase as well as a conversation piece. I didn’t have to sell it, but rather just mention the price. But then I came back with my first surprise.

“Well, I’d like to buy them for $19.95 too. Actually the price is $99.95. I was kidding about the $19.95 price. I mean what do you expect? How many want it now?” About one-fourth of my students raised their hands. The rest are straining to decide ... maybe a few more hands go up after some contemplation.

I then continued: “Now listen, $99.95 isn’t really a lot. First, there are 14,000 words on little pieces of plastic, all in this beautiful plastic sphere and mounted on this three-point stand.

Look at it this way—if you get just one idea from this Think Tank and you make just $1,000 more from your ad, isn’t it worth it? Now, how many people want to buy this at $99.95?”

The hands go up and now two-thirds of my students want the Think Tank. Certainly not as many as wanted it at $19.95, but quite a few more than wanted it without my explanation. In short, I had to do a lot more selling as a result of the higher price point and I still ended up with fewer purchasers.

At this point I explained to the class, “We have just learned several important marketing lessons. At a very low price, you don’t have to say much about the product. Just present the product. If people understand what the product is and the perceived value is far greater, there will be people who will buy it whether they need it or not. No need for long copy, no need to explain much of anything. Just let greed do its natural thing.

“But raise the price without providing proof of value and the response drops dramatically. Do a sales job justifying its purchase, you can bring up the demand—but interestingly, not to the same high level as at the $19.95 price point. Greed truly wins out.

“Notice that as we raised prices, the response rates dropped. When the price of a product goes up, the number of units sold goes down and more effort to educate and persuade is required to sell the product. But drop the price and show tremendous value, and greed will alone drive the sales.”

You should recognize greed as an important factor when selling your prospect. By providing more value than your prospect expects, you will enhance the power of this valuable trigger.
Trigger 13: Greed

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