Believability in your copy

After reviewing a couple of lots of copy in recent days — one aspect which I noticed needed beefing up is the price “believability” factor.

For example, in one web-based sales pitch, a suite of 10 products were claimed to be worth over $34,000 (a specific amount was used, which was good to include) and being sold for just $47.

With such a discrepancy between the price offered and the value claimed, questions will immediately pop in to a prospective buyers head. Questions like …

Yeah right! Are you exaggerating? How do you justify $34,000? How do you justify making the cost only $47? Why are you selling it so cheap? Or is $47 actually more than it’s really worth? Is the whole package really worth $34,000? If you’re making this up, what else are you making up?

They’re legitimate questions you must address in your copy to persuade the buyer that your offer is genuine and trustworthy.

In the example above (the figures I’ve used are close to the actual figures in what I was reading) there’s also other benefits granted to the buyer, including Private Label Rights (to re-brand the products as your own), resale rights, the ability to give away the product. This creates more questions to answer to address a buyer’s fear about how many copies of the product will be sold (that will be competing against the buyer)… how quickly will they recoup their $47 investment?

Illustrating how this might happen — describing various ways they can make money (even by giving away your product) — can change the focus for a buyer from skepticism to seeing the income earning opportunities offered by this package.

In this case, no “reason why” justification was offered, nor were these questions addressed. If they were, I would predict the overall results would be better than they are now.

Whether you use a “reassuringly expensive” price or a highly discounted price, you need to use convincing copy about the value of the product or service to add believability.

Put an end to work on spec

I read tonight of a new online business venture which not only encourages work “on spec” but uses it as a model for designers. What a disaster!

Before I get into this post, so you know what “on spec” means, from No!Spec, the definition of work “on spec” is:

“Spec” has become the short form for any work done on a speculative basis. In other words, any requested work for which a fair and reasonable fee has not been agreed upon, preferably in writing.

Back to the story.

The site in question — which I have no intention of promoting with a free link — uses this approach:

by having bidding designers (at least 25 entries) submit completed concepts rather than just proposals in the competitive process

Why have they determined that this model of business is okay for graphic design? Why should a provider — in this case a designer — invest their time, equipment and skills in a project where they’re one of at least 25 submissions to the client. So they have a four percent chance of being paid.

You wouldn’t think of doing this in other environments.

For instance, if you’re building a new home, do you ask 25 builders to build you a house “on spec”, and then choose the one you want to pay for? Hardly! Would a hairdresser cut hair all day “on spec” in the hope that 1-in-25 clients likes them enough to pay for it? No!

Design is no different.

Now, if you’re a new designer (or copywriter, desktop publisher etc) then you might want to take on some “free” work — pro-bono — to build up a credible portfolio before you have a lot of successfully completed projects under your belt. In that way, it’s a legitimate way to build up your reputation by showing a client the type of work (and client) you are capable of producing.

And there’s certainly a difference between creating personalised marketing samples to attract a client and creating full projects you “might” get paid for as one of several or even dozens of potential skilled providers.

But that client then expecting you to undertake full projects without the surety of payment … makes no sense for the provider … so in the end it’ll make no sense for a client. It devalues the intellectual property skills of the provider, devalues their time and ultimately costs clients more money anyway as that lost time is compensated for with paid hours.

A better approach — which I use regularly — is to guarantee my services and involvement in a project. The risk is on me to produce something suitable, or risk not being paid in the unlikely event my work doesn’t fit the bill. But — other than for poor performance — my involvement in the project is paid for, not “on spec”.

If a client is asking for work “on spec” because they don’t know you — then along with a guarantee you could use samples, existing work and client testimonials to help prove your value. So there are certainly ways to persuade a client who isn’t aware of your capabilities of your suitability for a project.

Stick to these proven, persuasive approaches and steer clear of the “on spec” requests!