Thursday, 29 October 2009

Don't cut your prices. Increase them !

Seen the new ads for Marks & Spencer ? They say “quality worth every penny”.

Hooray ! At last, an advertiser selling products for their true worth !

To be honest, I’m getting really fed up with advertising that repeatedly tells listeners they can save money. In the Anne Robinson Watchdog age, even ordinary members of the public can work out brand owners cannot genuinely slash their prices all of the time. The public are also aware of how expensive advertising can be. Many will be saying: “Why do advertisers spend millions of pounds telling me they have cut their prices ? It doesn’t make sense !”

Advertising price cuts during a recession is obviously tempting. But as I have said many times before, people will only buy a product or service if they have a genuine need or want for it. Sure, price cuts can speed up the process, but they are not 100% responsible for creating that feeling of want and need.

I have just come back from a meeting with an old client of mine. Like many other companies, life has been tough over the last year or so. But he said to me today that at last, business was nicely picking up and that his company would definitely be stronger as a result of advertising heavily during the recession. Furthermore, throughout the slump, my client never promoted a single price cut. In fact, he didn’t cut his prices ! Words like ‘value’ made an appearance on the odd occasion, but ‘special offers’ were an absolute no-no.

The new M&S strategy, “quality worth every penny” shows that good things are still worth paying more for. In times when treating yourself is good for the soul, people will always spend a little more for a comfort fix. Perhaps that’s why sales of make up have actually increased during the recession ? (Incidentally, I love M&S including the word ‘penny’ in their new line. The perception is that their products only cost a few pennies more, rather than many pounds more !)

So how many radio adverts actually exploit the value of a product or service, rather than the price ? How often do advertisers focus on the huge emotional dividends the product or service will bring, rather than how much it actually costs to buy ?

A quick plug here: Go get yourself the book ‘Buy-Ology, How Everything We Believe About Why We Buy is Wrong’ by Martin Lindstrom. It covers the science of Neuro Marketing and how brands are discovering it’s not conscious logic that effects how and what we buy. It’s something a lot deeper. To find out what, read the book. It’s fascinating stuff and has confirmed to me that ‘price’ only has a small part to play in our purchasing decision process.

I really really hope that many radio advertisers start to wake up to the fact that there’s more to their brand than just price. A brand can be made priceless providing effort is invested in creating the perception that’s it’s worth...Every single penny.

John Calvert.

For radio commercials that really are the business, contact Airforce here.

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