The Value Trap

by Elaine Berry - Date: 2006-11-06 - Word Count: 658 Share This!

No doubt you are familiar with this scenario.

You receive a sales letter trying to persuade you to buy an e-book package for $97. The letter contains a list of attractions contained in the package, but you feel sure you've seen it before somewhere, perhaps offered as a freebie or a bonus.

You are skeptical. Nothing in the letter really tempts you to cough up $97 of your hard-earned cash. If you are going to part with that much money, you need to be sure it's going to be worth your while. The letter has not convinced you of that.

You have just experienced a "perceived value deficit"!

The next day, you find another sales letter in your inbox. This is for a package costing $147. But it consists of a bundle of intriguing looking products, none of which you have seen before. They sound like products that will seriously benefit your business or personal life. As you read the letter, you become so excited that the $147 seems like a bargain.

The writer of the second letter has pulled off one of the most vital tasks of the copywriter - to overcome resistance to the price of the product. It is done by creating PERCEIVED VALUE.

Have you ever wondered why so many people are willing to pay up to 10 times the cost of an economy fare, to fly First or Business Class? They are on the same plane, doing exactly the same journey, as the economy passengers! The answer is that the airline has successfully convinced them of the PERCEIVED VALUE of the First Class experience.

In England you can travel on the Great North Eastern Railway (GNER) from York to London for as little as £25. Yet many people choose to pay up to £297 to do the journey in a first class carriage. Same journey, same train! The GNER has convinced them of the PERCEIVED VALUE of travelling first class. Whether it's comfort, privacy, peace or prestige, it is worth that much TO THEM.

George Washington showed how well he understood human nature when he made his famous comment, "It is not things as they are, but things as they are PERCEIVED, which is important." This is true in most aspects of life and especially so in the area of value.

So if someone THINKS your product is worth $1,000, that's how much it is worth. Because that's how much they will be prepared to pay for it. If it appears to them to be worth $1, you'll never sell it for more.

Do you see how this shows the crucial importance of learning to write compelling sales copy? It is your job as a copywriter to convince the customer of the value of your product, if you are to have any chance of making a sale. You do this by creating PERCEIVED VALUE. This overcomes any resistance to the price.

Don't get me wrong. We are not talking about deception here. If your sales letter proves to be a load of hype, selling a load of junk, your reputation will be mud in a very short time. Perceived value is what sells the product, but there must be real value behind it. You don't get many people demanding a refund on a First Class flight to Hong Kong, unless the plane actually failed to take off. They usually FEEL they got what they paid for.

Have you been wondering why your sales letters haven't been resulting in many sales? Check them out for "perceived value deficit"!

The only way to get your prospects to reach for their credit cards is to get their eyes popping, their mouths watering, at the benefits your product is promising. Seduce them, hypnotize them, until they realize they can't possibly do without the product. If you really do this successfully, you can ask almost any price you want!

But after all that, make sure you provide them with genuine value. Otherwise, any success you achieve will be very short-lived.

Elaine Berry is the owner of Bizwrite, the only one-stop-shop for writing services. Bizwrite not only provides copywriting, ghostwriting, article writing and proofreading services, but also provides help and tuition in all aspects of writing. Visit for a FREE e-course on copywriting.

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