The Marketing Word | Differentiation Marketing

TAG | Endless Referrals

Cost, Price and Proving Value

Sometimes all the stuff swirling around in my brain (yes, like the proverbial running toilet) comes together and I realize that I’ve been storing information, waiting for a few more pieces to fall into place resulting in a flash of brilliance – or at least a strong boot in the pants.

A trip to a new dentist was the final chunk in a puzzle that had been swimming in my head for the past week.  It started with a Bob Burg seminar on referral marketing (His book Endless Referrals is a marketing classic – if you don’t have it, get it.)  Bob does perhaps one of the best Zig Ziglar impressions in the speaking industry and he tells a story about overcoming the objection of cost.  When a prospect says that your price is too high, Zig says to respond with “Are you concerned about the cost or the price? Because price is a one-time thing and cost is a lifetime thing.  Don’t you really want the best possible, lowest cost?”

Another way of saying that is, “You get what you pay for.”  You can buy a cheaper item, but will it last?  Will it cost you more in time wasted on future repairs or replacement?

Now for my trip to the dentist.  I found this dentist through an ad in a local free magazine.  They have a number of locations and a very large full-color ad.  I had a first time visit for a checkup, cleaning and x-rays.  The office had a lot of high tech equipment and every patient area (not individual rooms, which made me glad they weren’t gynecologists) had a huge 50” flat screen HDTV.   The dental tech did the x-rays and some checking, the doctor came in and poked around for five minutes.  Turns out my beautiful smile is hiding some gum disease, a cavity, a crown that needs replacing and all sorts of stuff.  In fact, by the time they were done talking with me, I was scared my teeth were about to fall out of my head.  FORTUNATELY, they had this really nifty software that gave me a computerized printout of all the recommended work which came to somewhere in the neighborhood of $8,500.

Once they had worked me down off the ceiling, and I had worked out several things I could do with $8,500 (rehab a kitchen, buy a used car, spend a month in a villa in Italy with a twenty-something pool boy), I told them I might be back but I needed to get two more estimates.  (Hell, I was a rehabber, I ALWAYS get three estimates for large jobs.)

But here’s the real problem:  I didn’t have any trust in this dentist – it was a first time visit.  The dental tech caused me physical pain while the estimate caused me physical, mental and emotional pain.  They used fear tactics, which may or may not be justified, as a motivator.  And they asked for a not small amount of money.  Now, in the grand scheme of things, $8,500 for all that dental work may be a great price.  But for someone planning to spend a few hundred dollars, it was a bit of a jump.  (And I would still rather spend the money on a villa in Italy and a pool boy.)

Here’s where it fell into place for me:  I charge a lot of money for what I do.  Not as much as some people; not nearly as much as others; but more than average.  I am very good at writing manuals and courses for people.  I am fortunate in that most of my clients are referred to me and that I have built a good reputation in my particular niche industry. HOWEVER, if you do not know me or my work and you hear my stated price, your heart may skip a beat or two.

The trip to the dentist pointed out the flaw in my own marketing and positioning.  The work I do is extremely subjective.  It takes me, on average, 4-6 weeks to create a manual for someone.  I write manuals in a narrative style.  My manuals read a bit like novels. I do my best to capture my client’s “voice” and they are written in very “me to you” tone.  I have a system that I use and it creates a solid product.  But, there is the chance that the client won’t like the work I’ve done.  It’s very subjective and as in many things, when it comes to writing, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

So, as a marketer, how do I justify my price and prepare my clients for what their end result will be?  It really comes down to communicating my expertise and the time involved and this is where I think the dental office made its mistake.

There were no testimonials from patients anywhere in the office.  No pictures of the dentist (any of them) with a happy teenager on the day she got her braces off.  There were no diplomas on the wall (if I had seen an Ivy League diploma hanging on the wall, at least I would have known I was paying off some school loans).  No articles about the doctors or the office.  There was NOTHING in the office that told me why this dentist was different from any other dentist in town and why his prices were at least twice as high as other dentists.  In fact, I had the distinct impression that the dentists rotated through the various offices much like temps.

I’ll pay for quality work.  So price really wasn’t the issue.  I like my teeth; I want to keep them.  But there was nothing in my experience in the dental office that made me feel like I could trust that I was getting top quality dental care, care that was over and above what I could get literally across the street for a lot less money.  In fact, I will not be sure I need all that recommended care until I see a second dentist.  My trust level with that office is non-existent.

When you are selling anything, especially high ticket items, you need to build trust with your prospects and build value into your presentation, be it a web page, an ad or face-to-face.  What makes you different from everybody else out there?  Do you have references (testimonials) from credible third parties?  What are the future costs that you will save people down the road?  How does using you (and paying more money) benefit your client in the long run?  Until you can answer those questions, your prospects are going to shop you on price.  Learn to speak in terms of cost, not price.

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This is actually one of my tips of the week, but it bears repeating.  OK.  Really, it's just working my last nerve this week.  (If you're not getting my tip of the week, look to your right ---> and sign up there.)

It has come to my attention that people have no concept of plagiarism.  At first I thought they just had no conscience – stealing other people’s materials was just their way of doing business.  I realized that the average plagiarist is not malicious – they REALLY DON’T KNOW WHAT PLAGIARISM IS.

As a writer, this freaks me out a bit.  I spend a lot of time carefully choosing words (OK, most of the time I am choosy – sometimes I just rant), so my writing is concise, specific and clear.  To have someone just walk in and pass my words off as their own – well, it really cheeses me off.

So, let’s go over a few basics.

Anytime you use someone’s words verbatim, you should give credit.  Reference the person and the source.  For example, “All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like and trust.”  Bob Burg, Endless Referrals.   I use that quote a lot.  And every time I do, I go to Bob’s website ( to make sure I have it right.

Anytime you paraphrase, you should give the person credit and mention that you are paraphrasing.

If you use an article distribution service such as to find articles to use for your website, blog, newsletter, etc., you must give the author of the article credit by including the author’s resource box with their bio and their links.  That’s your part of the agreement under the Terms of Service.

If you hire a freelancer to write articles for you, you are buying the exclusive rights to those articles and you may put those under your own name.  You will want to have an agreement with the freelancer that those articles will not be re-sold to anyone else.

If you are using PLR articles, ebooks or courses, you don’t have to change a word.  Just put your name on them. The author sold his rights to you.  You bought the rights to pass this material off as your own.  That being said, most article submission sites will kick your PLR articles right back to you.  They know what’s on the market and put articles through filters to weed out duplicate PLR material.  If you have bought PLR articles that you want to submit to article distributors you will need to re-write substantially – at least 40% is the number I have heard and I would go with 50% - 60% to be safe.

If an article appears on someone’s website, in a newspaper or magazine, it does NOT mean anyone can grab it and use it.  I actually had a client say to me, “Well, it was on their website so we can use it.”  No, we can’t.  A WEBSITE IS COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL!!!!  Sorry.  Sometimes I have to scream.  Just because you find a book in a public library doesn’t mean you can copy the whole damn thing and put your name on it as the author.

Deep breath…  OK.  Here’s what it comes down to.  If you didn’t write it yourself, hire someone to write it for you, or buy the Private Label Rights, you must give credit to the proper person.  If you want to reprint someone’s work or reprint the majority of a work, whether it’s an article, term paper or book, you must seek permission from the person who holds the copyright, either the author or the publisher.

So, hope this clears up a few questions for you.  I just feel better getting it off my chest.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect.  But it should be your own work.

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February 2018
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