Dollar bills 370.
(photo credit: Steve Marcus / Reuters)
Value is relative. Anyone understands why a glass of water in the middle of the
desert can bring five dollars or even $50, while a glass of water in a room of
free water fountains would not sell at all.
Value has to do with demand
and availability and the return on your investment in time, money and
So why on earth is a book of 30,000 words that says “fiction”
on the back cover worth $13.99 while a similar sized book by the same publisher
which says “nonfiction” worth double or triple that amount? What makes one book
more valuable than another? Some people may think it’s because fiction is
theoretically easier to write (although many fiction writers actually spend a
tremendous amount of time doing research to make sure that the background and
historical setting accurate), or the fact that a good work of fiction can sell
many more copies than a nonfiction book.
But value to the consumer is not
really about the cost of bringing the book to market. Value is always about the
impact on the reader and their life or business. It’s more intangible than
The tremendous price differential in fiction versus non-fiction
for the businessman is that the work of fiction may make you giggle, but the
non-fiction book can make you real money.
Would you pay $10 for an
enjoyable book to read? Probably. $20? Well... Maybe. How about $150? “What?!” I
can hear you shriek as you read this. “Are you nuts? I’d never do that, no
matter how much money I have sitting around!” But when it’s non-fiction, it’s
another story, because the price has nothing to do with the cost of writing and
producing the book. It has to do with the value to the reader, the information
on the pages. Would you pay $100,000 for a guaranteed treasure map to a chest of
gold worth $1 million? Of course! But it’s only one page, not 300. It’s not the
product. It’s the value of the product to you.
Depending on what you do
for a living, a $150 information product can be an easy sell. “This information”
you reason to yourself, is high value. “If it makes me not the $22,000 the ads
claim I’ll earn in increased revenue, but even only another half that – it will
be the best business investment I’ve made in a long time!” Copywriting works in
a similar way. Getting proper copy written is the same idea as buying another
new truck to deliver their goods with; it’s not about the time it took or the
number of words. It’s about what the copy will accomplish and how it will
persuade the reader to do something that translates into a “Kaching!” at the
Anyone can write a letter to Amazon. Not everyone who
writes to them gets a response, or at least not the response they want. Knowing
what to write to Amazon then becomes a skill that has value. For instance, I
once wrote a letter to Amazon of behalf of a client to persuade the senior
management to take a certain position that would benefit my client. It could
take many hours, many letters and even a call or two to get the response if you
don’t understand how to communicate well.
The email was sent to one
person, one time and Amazon responded positively. That meant that the money the
client spent having that letter written as best as possible was a no-brainer. It
had value to them because it resulted in a desired outcome.
a client and I recently pored over together resulted in a jewelry order from a
chain of over 400 shops to carry his line of necklaces. He could have spent a
lot of time, effort and money to send mass mailed letters to every store and
courted every owner and invested months and even years to get the same result.
But he recognized the value of “knowing which bolts and screws to turn” and
didn’t focus on the cost, but on the value.
It’s the intangible
knowledge, the experience, the insights, the years of experience that make any
As I saw in a Facebook post from Dr. Harlan
Kilstein: “Have you ever wondered why the most successful companies in the world
pay the most for good copy (Agora, Boardroom, Weiss) and the least successful
companies in the world either want to do it themselves or hire by who’s the
cheapest? Good copy doesn’t cost you money. It MAKES you money.”
new office chair be more productive then a persuasive piece of copy that reels
in clients? There’s a good reason top companies pay for good copy while many
small business owners try to do it themselves.