“Best Value” can be a useful label, but it’s a lousy claim if you can’t back it up.
“Best value” makes a bold promise. It says to your website’s visitors, “I’ll prove to you that my product/service/whatever is worth far more than the asking price.” If you’re going to make this claim, you’d better have the proof waiting for them on the product- or service-description page.
Don’t be shy, though. If you can prove the “best value” claim, it’s a great way to simplify the customer’s selection process. High-speed decision-makers (Spontaneous and Competitive types) will likely read “best value” as your attempt at saving them time. For slower-paced customers (Methodical and Humanistic types), it helps kick-start their quest to find the very best value.
Whatever the visitors’ temperament, they’ll expect you to prove your claims, so before we talk about how to substantiate “best value” claims, let’s review the elements that evoke “value.”
As Roy Williams explains,
“The value of an item – in the mind of a consumer – is simply the difference between the anticipated price and the price on the tag. When the anticipated price is higher than the price tag, it’s a ‘good value.’”
“Best Value” should be supported in two steps:
1) A detailed description of the item — (build up the anticipated price)
2) The actual, lower-than-expected price — (surprise the visitor and entice them to buy)
Do BOTH parts well and you’ll be golden. Here’s how:
Since “value” is subjective, you’ll need to support it with an objective, factual statement. Don’t tell me your hot chocolate is a great value because it’s the “richest and most flavorful.” Tell me it contains 70% cocoa powder — twice as much as any other brand. Don’t tell me your pizza is the “cheesiest.” Tell me you use a full pound of genuine buffalo mozzarella flown in from Naples for every large pizza. You get the picture.
Then, after substantiating your product’s wonderful qualities, show me that the price isn’t much more than a typical hot chocolate, pizza, or whatever. Do those two things and people will be persuaded to click the Add-to-Cart button or fill out your lead form.
The problem for most companies is that they don’t do BOTH well: Either they don’t do enough to persuade customers of the product’s value, or they price their high-quality item even higher than what they’ve been able to substantiate to the market.
Most businesses don’t offer higher quality at slightly higher prices. They offer higher quality at proportionally higher prices, then try to sell it to us as “value.” But value is actually the ratio of (Perceived) Quality-to-Price. So, higher quality at a proportionally higher price doesn’t represent better value.
If I’m considering a cheap-o $10 knife and you offer me twice as much knife for $12, that’s a good value. If you offer me twice as much knife for $20, your $20 knife may not feel like a bargain.
The way out of this used to be to stress the intangibles of the product. Not long ago, the copywriter would build perceived value above and beyond the substantiated value by talking about, say, the fact that the knife was professional quality. That it was the same knife used by Charlie Trotter, Emeril Lagasse, or the like. The copywriter might wax poetic about the balance of the knife and its feel to the hand. He’d stress the added pleasures of using a more expensive knife over time. He’d hint at the increased social status that only brand-name cutlery can bring.
That used to work very well. But thanks to our depressed economy, our heads are hardening by the day, and those sorts of value-added extras no longer add as much value — not lately, anyway.
In this type of climate, you’ll have to prove that the value added by your product provides genuine Return on Investment — (show how jeans last 2x longer and, therefore, are worth 1.5 times as much) — or you’ll have to master yet another two-step process.
Now, before I get into that, I want to emphasize that I’m NOT preaching a discount or price-cutting mentality; on the contrary, I’m recommending you substantiate your product’s value and maintain your profit margins.
Only when your best efforts have failed should you consider Plan B:
1.) Increase the saleability of the product rather than its perceived value. In other words, allow your value-building efforts to increase the number of people who are willing to buy at a lower-than-usual price, rather than trying to use it to increase the price you charge.
2.) Decrease the buying pain enough to cause a favorable “anticipated vs. real” pricing structure. This could mean price-cutting, resizing portions, restructuring payments, reducing surcharges, etc.With any luck, doing both of these things will increase sale volume and keep you from having to lower your prices as much as you otherwise might. That’s probably not what you want to hear, and, as a copywriter, it’s not necessarily what I want to write, but it’s the truth. If you’re used to charging a high premium on intangibles there are going to be fewer people willing to pay the usual premium to get such things in the coming year.
Copy can’t fix everything. Each business must decide where to draw the line.
Show your value. Prove it. Convince hard-nosed customers. And if that stops working — or isn’t an option — go for Plan B.
In the meantime, read the other deadly claims at your own risk:
[Editor's note: Want to improve the value of your website? Join us on March 28th in San Francisco for the first-ever West Coast edition of the Persuasive Online Copywriting seminar, our popular Web writing crash course. Jeff Sexton and Holly Buchanan will be your instructors. Class size is limited so that attendees can get real advice and actually learn something.
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