But There’s a Catch…

(guest post by Alex)

We’re all paranoid to a certain degree.

Bombarded by endless sales messages and claims that seems too good to be true, our subconscious brains use certain mechanisms to steer us in the right direction.

One of those is figuring out what the “catch” is.

19th century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer puts an interesting spin on it in his essay “The Art of Always Being Right”. This applies more to conversations and debates but we’ll give it a sales twist in a moment.

So here is what Schopenhauer says, in my own words.

When trying to win an argument, attach lots of importance to something you don’t really care about. Make the other person think this point is something you won’t give up on.

Then let them convince you to change your mind. They will often reciprocate by letting you win the real debate.

The same is true when trying to sell something. People like a real reason why. A catch if you will. Something that turns off the “too good to be true” reflex that ends up blocking so many transactions.

For example, say a furniture store is having a sale, 20% off on everything. Big whoop. Only customers that are actively looking to buy furniture will be interested.

Even then, they will more than likely think the sale is just another gimmick to make them buy stuff. Most often it is.

Once upon a time, a furniture dealer had a “rain damage sale”. A whole array of couches and tables had been damaged because of a leak in the warehouse roof.

The owner discussed the situation nervously with his advertising copywriter, predicting big losses.

The copywriter, smart fellow that he was, saw this as an opportunity rather than a problem and came up with the “Rain Damage Sale”.

He ran an add for the sale giving a rebate because of the slight rain damage. The showroom was flooded with customers (no pun intended) and the dealer had a record day.

Why was this sale so much more effective? Because it had a reason. The catch was clearly explained. The sale even pulled in people that weren’t looking to buy furniture because the “reason why” excited their desire for a good deal.

When a vendor provides a whole list of benefits for their product and then states a minor flaw customers don’t really care about, the credibility of the entire piece is skyrocketed.

Selling something? Find a minor flaw with it or give a discount with a credible reason why. Answer your customers’ unspoken concern. They will be trying to find it. Help them along by pointing to it clearly.

This technique works like magic and smart advertisers creatively invent a flaw when they can’t see one plainly enough. Guaranteed to improve sales and conversions.

But there’s a catch, you have to make it believable for it to work.

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