Years ago I wrote ads for a very high-ticket item indeed. It was called the Airbus.
How much did I vary my approach? Less than you might think. I started with five thoughts.
1. I had to explain how it was different and better. So I explained how the two engines (rather than three or four) made it more economical.
2. I had to overcome objections. So I explained how these engines were just as safe — you could land with just one functioning.
3. I had to remember that people would be buying it. So I went about appealing to human emotions.
4. I had to remember that there would be many decision-makers. So I bore that in mind in my copy.
5. I had to remember decisions on expensive purchases take a long time. You don’t get up one morning and say “I think I’ll buy an Airbus”. So I didn’t say “buy now while stocks last”.
So, yes, high-ticket items are indeed different. But you are still just selling. Just use common sense and adapt your approach to how people buy — the process.
Besides the fact that you often have several decision-makers, and that they all have different motivations which you must address with differing messages, there is one very significant difference.
The greater the price, the harder it normally is to get a sale.
A low price usually means a one-step or maybe a two-step sale, without a great deal of reflection. Who broods over spending £5?
But a £1,000 sale — that may be different. And a £50,000 sale, even more so.
In those higher realms, there may be many stages. You run an ad, or send an email or some direct mail. You get a reply. Or maybe they go to your website or a special landing page.
You try to capture their names. You may phone them. You may have a salesman go and visit. You may invite them to a seminar.
Then, it may take you months or even years to get the sale closed.
Here are some things to bear in mind.
Long copy or short?
Good, long copy almost invariably beats short copy, anyhow. But this is particularly true when things cost a lot.
Let me give you a couple of examples: one of our clients sold a product that starts at £85,000. The average spend though, was £170,000.
Their sales process began with a one-page letter. So I rewrote it. When I had finished, it was four pages long.
Here’s the rub though: they said they wouldn’t send it out as “nobody will read a four-page letter”. But we persevered, and they reluctantly agreed to send it.
The result? Response tripled and sales doubled. You see, when you are asking people to spend substantial amounts, their neck is on the line – they’d read a book on the subject if they could find one.
Some timed later I wrote a six-page letter to sell a very complex online product to lawyers. It went to under 2,000 firms. I wrote variations to meet the needs of different people within each firm.
One firm splashed out over £100,000 just on the strength of that letter, another forked out over £50,000 within an hour of receiving it.
The mailing with one follow-up, an email, and a whole sales sequence produced over £1,500,000 in sales. We then created another series for that client. That produced over £2,000,000 in sales.
Remember, though, there’s a huge difference between being long-winded and being relevant. I thought my first letter to lawyers was a bit flabby, and made the second shorter.
Use individual sales points intelligently
Expensive products seldom if ever have just one benefit — usually you’ll end up with quite a list when writing your drafts.
Here’s what you should do.
1. Write a letter or email/landing page that encompasses all the points. If you miss any one out, you are missing a potential sale from readers who might be motivated by it.
2. Make sure you overcome all reasonable objections and fears. Again, any one omitted can lose you a sale.
3. Break the individual topics down into a logical sequence, then use them as the openings to a series of helpful messages to prospects. These can be letters, White Papers — whatever.
Such a sequence serves two important purposes.
Firstly, different prospects have different needs — and until you are further down the sales process, you won’t know what they are. So you have to cover every angle.
Secondly, you stay on their radar without sending out mindless propaganda. And prospects tend to hang on to useful, helpful information.
Another good reason for doing this is it’s very hard to stay in touch with prospects when you have nothing new to say and keep repeating yourself.
Mind you, continually sending out the same message to existing prospects is better than doing nothing at all.
Do not make the mistake – touted by some content marketing propagandists – of not asking for a response or sale. As long as you are polite, nobody minds. And some reply.
Continually qualify your prospect
Every so often, politely ask your prospect whether they’d prefer if they didn’t hear from you again.
This not only saves time and money weeding out duff prospects. Another real advantage is forcing your prospects to choose – to make up their minds and ask, “Am I interested in what you have to say and offer?”
Naturally, when you do this, you get more people than normal asking not to hear from you again. But at the same time you get more people letting you know their intentions and where they are in the buying process.
I suspect when you read the bit about long copy you muttered to yourself “Easier said than done”.
It’s true. So one good trick is to write next to each paragraph a phrase summing up what it says. Then you can see whether the sequence of argument makes sense.
Lastly, here’s a point you’ll know I’m very fond of.
Spend your efforts where they pay off best
Don’t ignore old prospects — always true but ESPECIALLY true with expensive items. As I said to start with, the decision may take a long time — sometimes years.
Most people apply far more expense, fury and energy into finding new prospects than converting existing prospects into buyers. This is just plain folly.
Generally, old enquiries are your best prospects. For one thing, you know they are interested. For another you have already been educating them about your merits.
If you do all these things properly you will be surprised and delighted to discover something immensely valuable.
The margins on very expensive products and services are infinitely greater. But the effort required to sell them is not.
Yes; it is more. But not that much more.