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© Ugur Akinci
(A copywriting sample, 530 words)
The answer is Yes, and, No.
Obviously you can indeed “sell a price,” that is, sell a product by focusing exclusively on its low cost. That’s after all how Wal-Mart came to be the global retail megalith that it is today.
For standardized goods that show no product variation, you can sell the price — until the service hits such a low spot that the pull of the price advantage disappears.
For example, if you are selling canned pet food over the Internet, low price is very important because a certain brand and size of pet food can is the same product whether it is sold by a merchant in Alaska or Florida.
New cars fall into the same category. A new car is a new car is a new car. That’s why old-time salespeople are fast turning into order takers all across the nation.
But sometimes selling a price is the worst marketing approach you can take. Pushed to its logical extreme, sometimes “giving away” something is the surest way to lose a customer.
Take the recent LASIK eye surgery offer I’ve received in the mail last month. “Cheap price!” was splashed all over the well-designed multi-color mail piece.
Here is the eye-catching headline on the front cover: “Your best financing value on LASIK! Introducing Easy-Pay 18, No Money Down Interest-Free Financing for 18 months… As low as $41.94 a month with NO down payment!”
This all assumes that I can’t wait to place my eyeball under a surgeon’s blade.
More “price copy” from inner pages: “Interest-free Easy-Pay 18. $0 Down. 0% Interest. Easy-Pay 18 Months.”
Back cover: “Want LASIK? Need savings? Look here! As low as $41.94 a month!”
Yeah, I want LASIK but I want to be CONVINCED FIRST that it is okay for a medical school graduate whom I haven’t met before to cut my cornea with a laser beam!
And more text on how I can “s-t-r-e-t-c-h your payments” as though that’s the most important thing on my mind.
I hope this direct mail piece earned a lot of money for the LASIK surgeons but as far as I’m concerned, they’ll never get my money by just promising low price because they did not answer any of the objections I still have about the surgery itself.
Other category of marketing where a heavy emphasis on low price or low payments could be a killer is high-end consulting services like IT management or financial consulting.
Would you trust a computer network consultant who charges “only $19.95 a day, payable in 2 installments”?
Or what would you make of a psychiatrist charging “now only $9.95 an hour, for a limited time, FREE parking with validated payment receipt”?
When the price itself is a reflection of the quality, difficulty and scarcity of the good or service concerned, stressing the low price is the last thing you should do, not the first.
If Groucho Marx (who said “I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members”) was alive today, he might have said “I’m not cheap enough to buy a valuable service that I can afford easily” and he would be right on the mark.