Top Business & Life Lessons Learned Part 2: Creating the ‘BIG’ idea & Selling at premium prices
So let’s start where we left off, talking about “Making More”…
Maverick Rule #1 says:
It’s got to be a BIG idea that you, your team and your customers can “get” in seconds.
Creating The BIG Idea
Before we get started with the how – let’s talk about the why. Why do we even need to worry about creating some kind of hook, angle or big idea for our product or service? Easy answer is because there is so much frickin competition! There’s just too much noise in the marketplace (in just about every marketplace) that you need some way of sticking out.
If you don’t have a big idea you simply fade into the background like every other ‘me-too’ product or service. Actually it’s not always even about having a proprietary product/service. This is really more about positioning and the immediate reaction a prospect has to your deal the moment they hear it.
That’s on the key elements of the BIG idea – gut reaction. If you want a real interesting insight into this get the book “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell. You’ll see exactly how much our attitudes and perceptions are based on what he calls “thin slicing”. With our world’s being busier than ever – people usually don’t have all the time in the world to explore absolutely everything about a product or service. We’ve got to use shortcuts for our decision-making. And the clearer and more poignant you can make a distinction for your product or service the better you’ll do in the crowded marketplace.
Let me cover some real-world examples and then you’ll have a little better notion of how to create the same kind of hooks and angles for yourself. I’ll start with a couple products from the consumer world and see if you can pick up on it…
“100 Calorie Packs”
“8 Minute Abs”
“101 Nights of Grrreat Sex”
“The Real World”
All of these consumer products broke out and created serious financial windfalls for companies involved.
- Uncrustables are a pretty silly idea but they work. Create a pre-made PB&J sandwich, remove the crust and seal it together so the bread is a little pouch. Then put in your freezer and stick in your kids lunch bag to thaw for lunch. (Side note: We buy these a lot! Missy absolutely loves uncrustables herself. I’m the one who loves 5-star meals at fancy restaurants with great wine, while she could go for a grilled cheese sandwich any day of the week.)
- 100 Calorie Packs are from Nabisco and now have grown to a bunch of different varieties. Anything from Ritz crackers to Oreo cookies – but they only have exactly 100 calories per pouch. That’s the big idea – you don’t have to count calories because we’ve done it for you. You know that with each snack pack you can’t eat 18 portions because we’ve put less than 100 calories in there for you.
- 8 Minute Abs – the name says it all. That’s all you need to hear to know exactly what you get and how long it’ll take. It’s specific and very powerful – enough that on the strength of this concept hundreds of thousands of copies were sold
- Time Shares – it’d be almost impossible for someone today not to know what a time share is – but in the late 60’s and early 70’s this was a breakthrough concept. You could simply purchase a week of a hotel/condo instead of buying the whole thing. The concept first debuted in Europe and quickly spread to the US in Florida and Hawaii.
- 101 Nights of Grrreat Sex – I absolutely loved this concept when I saw in bookstores. It was so different. This is a paperback (mass market, bookstore) book by Laura Corn that has 50 sealed activities for men and 50 for women. You just rip out a page and away you go. You don’t have to think too much because it’s all there for you. The other point that I absolutely love about this book is the curiosity factor. You simply cannot “browse” the book like you typically would in a bookstore. All the pages are sealed and you only get little tantalizing hints like “Sucking the Mango”, etc. Laura is a fabulous marketer and constant promoter – she smartly has charged a premium price on her of $29.95 (way more than most paperbacks).
- The Real World is probably the first reality TV show and was a major breakthrough because there were no actors and no script. MTV concocted a recipe to whip up mega drama from a bunch of strangers all living together. Hey, I watched it. I still remember season #1 in NY. This concept is so strong that they are still going years and years later. Of course, reality TV has gone haywire in the past few years and really exploded. TV viewers will watch just about any kind of reality show if Flavor Flav is any indication.
- Club Med started the all-inclusive concept for vacations in the 50’s. This was a BIG idea since previously you had to pay for meals, drinks, activities, etc. all separate.
- 24 is the TV show that I haven’t seen copied yet. It’s got a unique format of every episode occurring in an hour of real time. And the entire season occurs over exactly 24 hours. Missy and I were totally hooked on it until about Season 5 or 6. If you watch this show – you know what I mean when I say we can’t believe some of the twists and ridiculous turns the writers put in there – but we go along for the ride.
Okay I’m sure many of you picked up on some of these BIG ideas but I want to make sure nothing is glossed over because this is critical and means the difference between a “base hit” or a “home run” product.
There are 5 major things I think about and keep in mind when coming up with a BIG idea or hook for something I’m doing:
#1: Give Them the FISH!
I can’t over emphasis this idea and I can’t remember how long I’ve been telling this to students. People are downright lazy – cater to it! Everyone knows the saying about if you give the man a fish you feed him for a day but if you teach him to fish you feed him for life. Let me give it to straight here – that’s complete and total B.S.!
People want the fish handed to them on their plate, grilled perfectly and with some seasonal vegetables on the side. Look at Home Depot – the world’s largest “do it yourself” company in the world. Why did they suddenly start buying up companies left and right and provide the service for consumers? And why does their CEO think the “done for you” services will eclipse their current sales? Hmmmm….
I’ve had big success with giving people the “fish” including the first online product that you’re probably sick of hearing by now – Instant Sales Letters. The whole hook behind Instant sales letters is in the headline on the site – “In Only 2 ½ Minutes You Can Quickly and Easily Create A Sales Letter Guaranteed To Sell Your Product Or Service…Without Writing! Looking To Increase Your Business? Just Fill In A Few Blanks And PRESTO… You’ve Just Created A Powerful, Money-Making Sales Letter!”
That hook has been responsible for me generating $1M+ with a little $40 – $50 product.
Another big success story using the “FISH” concept has got to the Public Domain Goldmine package created with my partner, Michael Holland. After the success of my Public Domain Riches product where I covered how to find and profit from public domain works – I realized many people didn’t want to go through the trouble of finding the public domain works and analyzing markets themselves. Here’s the big idea:
I’m going to hand you 35 different public domain works on a silver platter with nearly EVERYTHING done for you and ready to start making you money. We’re talking all the market research, competitive analysis, keyword analysis, locating back-end affiliate revenue sources, finding potential joint venture partners, clearing the copyrights, etc. – All for a TINY fraction of the time and money you would have to spend if you did it all yourself
That hook was enough to make sure all the volumes released so far have instantly sold out. Giving people exactly what they want handed to them in a done-for-them concept is so powerful.
As I look back, I’ve been doing this since I started selling information in ‘98. In fact, one of the very first successful products was a pre-done newsletter for cosmetic surgeons to send to their patients already written for them. Here’s how very simple and straightforward the letter selling this product started:
“How To Write A Patient Newsletter…Without Writing”
Are you too busy to write your own patient newsletter?
You know you need a newsletter, but if you’re like most doctors, you just can’t find the time to ever get one out. Coming up with interesting articles and compelling stories is hard, hard work, and unless you have lots of extra time on your hands, it’s easy to keep putting off publishing a newsletter until “someday”.
But of course, we all know “someday” usually never comes…
Oh sure, there are a couple companies that will do it all for – but they’ll charge you an arm and a leg. And since they don’t really know the first thing about compelling offers and killer copy it probably won’t get too many patients to actually call you (which is the whole point of putting out a newsletter).
Well, all that can change starting now…
Announcing The Pre-Done, Ready-To-Go, Camera-Ready, Just Plug-In Your Name and Phone Number, Patient Newsletters
One of my previous students, Lisa Preston, had been struggling with the information marketing business online until she took the “FISH” concept to heart. She launched “Instant Niche Emails”, which provided an easy way to get 52 weeks of follow-up autoresponders for just about any niche. It’s a great concept and she quickly saw her sales explode because of the big idea. And this isn’t just for info products – if you look back over the examples I originally gave you, I would put “Club Med” into the “FISH” category because they provide you everything you need to gave a wonderful vacation for one price. I’d also put “Uncrustables” in the “Fish” category since Moms and Dads just need to chuck one of those sandwiches into the little tykes lunch bag and they’re all set.
I’d possibly put “101 Nights of Grrreat Sex” in this since each torn out page gives you exact specific instructions but they don’t give you all the props, etc. 😉
Okay on to the second way to develop BIG ideas and hooks…
#2: Make Your Promise Specific
Specifics are so important but usually completely overlooked because it’s much easier to make a generic promise. However, a specific promise or a specific target market makes your marketing that much more powerful.
One of my best selling products (since 2001) has been “33 Days to Online Profits” that I co-wrote with Jim Edwards. I firmly believe that “brand” has been kept alive because of the very specific claim or hook. Originally when Jim and I first began discussing the idea behind this ebook it was going to 30 Days to Online Profits – but we decided on “33” because it was specific (and credible). The other unique aspect of this product is that each day you are given a homework assignment so it’s a step-by-step, day-by-day course for 33 days.
I have no doubt in my mind if the title was “30 Days to Online Profits” it wouldn’t be as successful.
Here’s another example from an actual critique I gave to a student when they submitted an idea that they wanted to create an info product for Stay-at-home-moms….
Here’s what I told them in the critique: “Stay at home moms are a great category – you need to get specific on it the moneymaking info. How about something like “233 Ways Stay at Home Moms Can Make an Extra $200 Every Month” Now that’s different, specific and has a nice hook to it.”
You can see from my comments how much more powerful this would make the concept. Specifics also apply to things like “1001” compiled resources. However, I don’t like “typical” numbers so I’d use very specific numbers like “233” or “33” as I mentioned.
Looking at the first group of examples I’d obviously put “8-minute abs”, “100 calorie packs” and probably “101 Nights of Grrreat Sex” into the specifics category. Side Note: Notice “101 Nights” is in both categories and I firmly believe you can create bigger and better hooks by having not just one of these factors in your BIG idea. Stack them on top of one another!
Another good example of specifics selling the big idea is the success of “5 Hour Energy”. I found this a few years back when I needed an energy boost before my Hockey finals. I went to 7-11 and was sitting there trying to decide which energy supplement/drink/powder/doohickey I should buy. I saw this little bottle called “5 Hour Energy”. I read a tiny bit on the back of the bottle and grabbed it. Yeah it tasted like crap but it worked. Not only did it give me more energy (we won the championship) but it worked from their marketing standpoint.
A point-of-purchase product like that really depends on you being able to make a split second decision whether or not you’ll get it. (Fact is, many decisions are made like this from a quick emotional, gut level but we don’t want to admit it to ourselves.) So using #2 – a specific promise of “5 hours of energy” they were able to get my business. Now just recently I saw them advertising their site – www.5hourenergy.com on TV which to me means the product has become pretty successful in a marketplace filled with competitors (like Red Bull, etc).
#3: Go the Opposite Direction
I love this. However, I don’t suggest being different just for the sake of being different – however – there is a lot to be said for ‘zigging’ when others ‘zag’.
My biggest example of this is the “Underground” concept I developed
Don’t you think there are more than enough Internet seminars going on all over the place? Some good. Some not so good. It’s real tough to create a stir in the Internet space unless you have something different. Which is exactly why I didn’t want to do another ‘same-ole’ Internet seminar. Of course, the easy way (and trust me there is nothing easy about putting on seminars) would have been to just gather up all my buddies and have a seminar – but that would be too similar to other established events.
My big hook (which was true) is every year I bring in a lot of unknown speakers who were really making it in the real world online. It wasn’t the same usual suspects you’d see at other events. I took it all the way with making the promotions ‘spy’ themed to stand out. Sure, some people emailed us and said it was silly. But a lot more people got into it because it was different. It really worked! Each year the event has SOLD-OUT weeks before the event took place (just as a comparison most other events will get the bulk of their registrants 2-3 weeks before the seminar and most will take registrants up until the event.)
[Shameless plug: This year’s Underground® 6 event has an incredible line-up of speakers and we’re just about to announce 2 really big keynote additions. The very best bonuses including the VIP networking dinner and lowest ticket prices expire on January 20, 2010. Click here for details!
For a broader example of going the opposite direction, think about when VW Beetle first came to the U.S. with their “Think Small” campaign in 1960.
It was the era of big cars and automakers were trying to outdo themselves by building bigger and bigger cars for the American public. But the VW Beetle quickly became a blockbuster because it went in the opposite direction and even highlighted the fact it was small. This campaign was so powerful that AdAge magazine named it the #1 in it’s Top 100 Advertising Campaigns list.
#4: Move to a New Application
Many times you can create a great hook by simply taking one successful hook from one industry or place and moving it somewhere else.
A great example of this is the successful Time Shares concept I already mentioned to you and moving it to other industries. The time share concept has been successfully applied to private jets (think NetJets), exotic cars, luxury second homes, yachts, etc.
Or on a smaller level, one of my friends and former Underground® II speaker is a great example of this. John Alanis’ site is www.WomenApproachYou.com and the whole hook behind his info products is to get women to approach you instead of you having to chase them.
Great concept – however it’s not even close to original!
Both John and I would credit Dan Kennedy with being a tremendous influence in our business. And one of Dan’s most successful products is “Magnetic Marketing” – with the big idea of not chasing business but having it come to you.
See any similarities?
#5: Being First
Sometimes the most important thing you can to is simply be the first. From our example list “Time Shares”, “Club Med” and “Real World” qualify since they were the very first in their category.
If you are moving into a crowded marketplace you can actually “slice” off a piece of that market to be first. For instance, Dan Kennedy talks about his foray into helping dentists and chiropractors with their practice marketing. He would say his company was “the single biggest provider of practice building information for the dental & chiropractic profession”. And that’s because nobody else was serving both. 😉
Or how about this one?
Hedonism (owned by SuperClubs) took the concept behind all-inclusive resorts from ClubMed and geared only towards singles or adventurous singles. But that wasn’t the end because another smart company niched the all-inclusive concept again but only for romantic couples with “Sandals” resorts.
If you start thinking about these points for creating the BIG idea or a hook – you’ll action begin to notice ideas everywhere. Plus, you’ll also see how successful products/services are in many ways take-offs on other successful concepts/ideas that came before them.
Zak likes their songs and surprisingly (or maybe not) I now know all the words to the songs on his Wiggles CD. The Wiggles have become a huge hit by following BIG idea method #4 and #5. So huge that according to Business Review Weekly magazine, The Wiggles were Australia’s highest grossing entertainers for the year 2005, earning more than AC/DC and Nicole Kidman combined.
2 of the Wiggles started off in a regular rock bank called “The Cockroaches” and had some modest success. It was only after deciding to move to a new application (#4) and being first (#5) did they have their massive success.
For moving to a new application they took their same popular rock sound and moved to kids music. Most kids music pretty much stunk but the Wiggles aren’t bad. Now moving to a new application they didn’t need to compete against tens of thousands of other hopeful musical acts trying to go big and mainstream. They went for kids and cornered the market. According to Wikipedia one of their hit songs came from reworking a few of the old Cockroaches tunes into children’s songs. For example, “Do the Monkey” was originally a Cockroaches song with different lyrics. Another Cockroaches song, “Get Ready To Wiggle”, inspired the new band’s name.
Then the other portion of the BIG idea used her was (#5) Being First. Now, they were not literally the first children’s entertainers but they took this combination of CDs, live performance, videos, and characters to develop a sticking point in the heads of little rug rats everywhere.
The more you can incorporate a BIG idea or hook into your product – the easier it’ll be to write a kick-ass sales promotion for it. It almost writes itself. The times when I’ve struggled writing copy is because I didn’t have enough of a big idea behind it.
Maverick Rule #3: You must charge a premium price so you have a large margin to provide an extraordinary value & experience.
About 2 years ago I conducted a $10,000/person workshop on “How to Sell Super High-Priced Information Products and Services” and I’ll share a few insights here…
If you boil down my biggest profit windfalls in my business (and the most astute marketers I observe) it has come down to selling premium products and services at premium prices. That’s how my business has leapfrogged from 6-figures to 7-figures and now multiple 7-figures a year!
Personally, I’ve sold everything from $5,000 workshops to $14,500.00 “Apprentice Programs” to $20,000 MasterMind groups and even a $40,000+/yr program for cosmetic surgeons.
First, let’s say you want to make an extra $1M this year – then you’d have to sell 20000 copies of your ‘doohickey’ at $50. Or it could be 2000 copies at $500. Or better still 200 copies at $5000. It’s a lot easier dealing with 200 customers than 20,000. Think of all the customer service and infrastructure, etc.
Once again before we get into the “HOW” let’s discuss the “WHY”…
Reason #1: More Profits
Okay no surprise here. When you sell for higher prices you make more profits. Very few companies have been able to sustain a “low price” position in the marketplace. Sears couldn’t. K-Mart couldn’t. And now it remains to be seen what Wal-Mart does with that position. (Actually if you study Wal-Mart you’ll notice they are bringing in some significantly high-priced, high-margin products.)
Reason #2: Better Customers
Price qualifies your customers more than you might realize. The ones that pay $7 for an ebook are going to be the ones that whine and complain the most! They’ll tax and strain your customer support team. But in comparison the customers who spend significant amounts of money are surprisingly easier to deal with and less demanding.
Think about the last time you gave free advice to someone – what happened? That’s right. Nothing. But if you had made them pay you for consulting – they would have taken it to heart.
Reason #3: Psychology of Price Works In Your Favor
This is a big one! We’ve always been taught “You get what you pay for”. It’s not uncommon for a prospective customer to discount a product or offering because it’s “too cheap”. If the price is not in line with what it should be you’d think there is something wrong.
Reason #4: Can Deliver More Value
Ultimately the value you provide will dictate the profits you receive from your customers. Increase the value and your revenues go up. By high-profit products with high-margins you have lots more wiggle room to deliver sensational value. You can really “WOW” your customers and buyers. Not only can you throw in high-value extras but you can afford to deliver truly unique unadvertised bonuses and follow-ups.
Reason #5: Some Buyers Will NOT Buy Low-Priced Items
It sounds crazy but some customers are only premium buyers. If you gave them a discount it would actually decrease the response. Plus, some customers are only comfortable buying in the high-end range. I was shocked when I discovered with my first high-priced offering. My Apprentice program was $14,500 and at the time this was head and shoulders above any other marketer.
I thought my best prospects for this program would be customers who had already bought from me and were happy. Surprisingly about half of the people in this program had *NEVER* bought anything from me before. Their comfort level was for a premium offer.
Reason #6: You Will OWN The Marketplace
I think this is the biggest reason of all…
This means you can afford to pay more to acquire a customer. This is huge! If I’m in the same marketplace and I’m competing against someone who only has $100.00 product at the end of their funnel and I have a $10,000.00 offering – there’s going to be almost no contest. I can spend more on Pay-per-click, more on advertising, more on affiliate pay-outs, more on offline follow-up, more on testing unusual advertising places, etc..
And I can make bad results work for me. If I’m direct mailing for a high-priced product I only need a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the response for a low-priced product to make me money.
Fact is, the business owner who can spend the most to acquire a customer will WIN.
Period. End of story.
Most people are undercharging for what they provide. My rule of thumb and one of my values I look at it every morning in my planners says “I get rich by enriching others 10x – 100x what they pay me in return”.
That’s a big deal for me. If you pay me $1000 for a product – I want to make sure it delivers $10,000 in value for my customers. I suggest you consider something similar. If your product isn’t good enough for you to raise your price on it – make it better!
And that’s the first step at the “HOW” to double or triple our prices…start brainstorming the value you provide.
Step #1 – Brainstorming Additional Value
Either find a trusted advisor, work with your team (if you have one) or just grab a blank yellow legal pad and start coming up with answers. It doesn’t matter how crazy they are. Just write them all down. In fact, the rules of brainstorming should be used:
- Rule #1 – No criticism allowed (turn off your left brain)
- Rule #2 – The wilder the better…everything’s possible
- Rule #3 – Quantity
- Rule #4 – Jump off and “Plus” others ideas
You want to start with a blank slate and just “blue sky” questions like these:
- “How can I provide 10x-100x the value to my customers?”
- “What can I do that will absolutely amaze them?”
- “How can I get my customers the end-result they want on a silver platter?”
- “How can I ‘do it for them’?”
Step #2 – Your thinking
Next, setting higher prices begins inside your head. People are usually too slow to raise prices and it’s more about confidence & self-image than the actual value delivered. Get Maxwell Maltz’s book “Psycho Cybernetics” and consider your self-image. We all have self images in every single area of our life and if you are not charging a premium it’s usually more to do with what’s in-between your ears than the actual marketplace. Which brings me to my next point, never allow your competition to set your prices. Just because someone else charges $x dollars – that does not mean you have to charge similar prices. There will be always a very profitable spot for businesses at the premium scale who deliver what’s perceived as exceptional products and value.
Step #3 – Targeting the right marketplace
Another mistake I see a lot is going after markets who cannot afford to pay premium prices. There’s no reason you cannot have another division of your business go after customers who have already shown they will pay premium prices for products/services. For example, I have a giclee of a painting by Thomas Arvid in our dining room at home. I believe we paid about $2500-$3000 for this work. Now in case you are unfamiliar with the term a giclee is really just a fancy print. This one being on canvas. I can most certainly assure you there is a high margin in this piece.
Why would I and many others pay such a premium for it? Well, the artist’s originals go for $25,000 or more now (if you can even get them) and he chose a subject that buyers would pay a premium for – namely high end wines. Also, it’s a limited edition piece (something we’ll discuss in greater detail shortly.) Arvid only specializes in hyper realistic wines paintings. They are absolutely beautiful and the first time I saw his work in Carmel, CA I was blown away. (You can see for yourself at www.ThomasArvid.com) Arvid paints high-end wines like Opus One, Silver Oak, Caymus, etc.
And the people who are passionate about these high-end wines will pay a premium for wonderful art. He stumbled onto this by accident when he started painting and found that a red wine painting was snapped up immediately. Very astutely Arvid learned more about wine and which ones to paint so that customers would open up their wallets.
And the final aspects of creating a high-priced offer are the psychological ones…
We’ve talked about the psychology of scarcity previously in this post. Human beings have been hard-wired to want what is going away. Many more people are motivated by the thought of potential loss than potential gain. You see this used all the time in marketing and it works *IF* there is truth behind or we perceive there to be truth behind it. Here’s one example from a company I buy a lot of wine from that really illustrates this point (combined with ‘reason why’):
If you have trouble reading the text in the email – here’s the main part (underlining is my own):
WINE ALERT: As you probably read in the news, our friends at Silver Oak experienced a terrible fire at their winery earlier this year. At that time, there were rumors that they had lost most of their past and current vintages. Hence, the winery ceased new sales of their prized Silver Oak 2001 Alexander Valley Cabernet – – Robert Parker’s highest rated Silver Oak since renowned 1997 vintage – – to the great disappointment of thirsty collectors across America who have made this wine the #1 selling Collector Cabernet. However, today the big news is our friends at Silver Oak just found 15 more cases of this wine + several BIG bottles including an extremely rare 6L quadruple magnum (details below) safely tucked away in their private cellar and have made an exclusive offer to Porthos Insiders on a “first come, first sell” basis. These are the last cases and only big bottles of this prized vintage that will ever be available for sale so don’t miss this insiders-only offer!
Some of you know I bought the 6L quadruple magnum (that’s equivalent to 8 regular bottles). I really like Silver Oak anyway so I wouldn’t have bought this just because it was so scarce (or at least I tell myself that). I’m planning on popping this bad boy for some big celebration.
With this information the only thing stopping you from raising your price is yourself. But if you want to just try it out – you can always start small by offering a “Deluxe” or “Gold” version of your existing product/service and see what happens. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by adding some of these elements to your marketing how you can easily double or triple your prices and still provide an incredible value.
Okay that wraps up part 2 – part 3 will cover creating your own MasterMind group and authentic connections, leave a comment and let me know what you think.
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