Don’t Make Your Copy All About Price -Even In Today’s Economy

by Sarah on September 20, 2010


In my freezer sits 10 gallons of frozen blueberries.  Every summer, we trek up our little mountain, rakes and buckets in tow, and spend the whole glorious day picking.

Even though my back and wrist gets tired, the pain quickly dissipates when I look up for a moment, munch on a handful of blues, savor the view and enjoy the prospect of blueberry pancakes in January.  The mountain birdsongs mix with my kids chatter as they learn the value of a good day’s work.

But I have to admit a little insanity kicked in this summer.  With my copywriting business booming, a few days before we were due to go berry picking, my mind leaped into a little calculation of how many hours I’d miss up on the mountain and what that would cost versus the price of 10 gallons of blueberries.

Thankfully, my noodle didn’t get too noodley.  I quickly remembered all the good stuff in each annual trek that had nothing to do with money. When the blueberry day dawned, I was raring to go.

But that brief moment enmeshed in dollar signs gave me a little marketing lesson.  It reminded me that even in these tough times, money is not always the big decision-making factor.

Because as Mastercard argued so deftly in its ad series, plenty of things you get with your purchase are really "priceless". And even when consumers are tightly holding on to dollars with white-knuckled fists, there are some experiences that are so desirable that they hardly note the price when they make the purchase.

And this is the exactly what we need to focus on as copywriters. We’re not selling a product.  We’re selling an experience. And the experience has very little to do with the actual price of the product.  In fact the better you sell the experience, the more irrelevant you make the price.  And the more irrelevant you make the price, the less resistant your prospect becomes to buying from you.

It’s the copywriting masters secret of "Transparency", a label coined by top copywriter Michael Masterson. 

No, this is not the same transparency talked about in social media – letting your prospects know you . . . This is the transparency of helping your prospects see right through the product to the experience you’re offering on the other side.  The product actually disappears – becomes transparent.

As Masterson explains:

Transparency is based on the recognition that the product you’re selling is not, in itself, what your prospect really wants.  What he wants is something more, something deeper, something closer to his heart. 

Great salesmen understand that people want more than mere things.  They want what they believe these things bring.

It could be the relief from the worry about cholesterol . . . It could be freedom to hike again despite a few rusty joints . . . That supplement or health book that got them to this point – and the cost – fades into the image they’re enjoying.  Your job is to make this image bright and clear. So bright that the price becomes almost inconsequential.

Here are a few ways to bring transparency into your copy:

1. Make your headline and lead focused on their problem and the solution you offer.  Not the product

Here’s an example from a web page I wrote:

Surprise Your Doctor…

It needles you each time you go to the doctor’s office. The fear that this time, he’s going to tell you, "Time to do something about your cholesterol."

For this cholesterol supplement, I didn’t focus on lowering your cholesterol, but on the satisfaction the person would feel that they had great test results.  Instead of feeling guilty or defensive that they still had bad numbers.

2. Good use of testimonials and stories

One of the reasons testimonials and stories are so powerful is that they can help your prospects see themselves experiencing the results.  It’s not a bunch of facts and arguments but a representation of the reality they want – embodied in a person’s experience.  Someone pretty much just like them! Put in a video or photo and you’ve made the image even more sharp and real to your prospect.

3. Close with a powerful image

This is one of the places I especially love to paint a picture.  The solid proof you’ve offered in the promotion has made the product sound like it works.  Show it. Help your prospect envision the results in their own life.

  • Remind them of how good it feels not to worry about bringing extra underpants on a daytrip because they don’t have to worry about incontinence with your supplement.
  • Nudge them with the image of being the person who stands out at work because of the energy they bring and the work they accomplish.

Use this clear picture of the benefits as a final solid push to buy your product.  Let your prospect really see how it will change their lives.

Ultimately, if you make a strong, vibrant picture of your prospects’ life improved thanks to your product, you make the price fade into the background.  It becomes a negligible hassle to get through in order to reach the results they want so much.


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