How focusing your written sales pitch can net you a 339% price increase.
The natural inclination of most sellers is to make ads appeal to as broad a market as possible. Homing in on the specific needs of a small group of buyers feels counterintuitive and scary. Here's a simple, everyday example of the difference targeted advertising can make on exactly the same product, with the same audience and advertising medium.
A while back I decided to buy a bicycle. I hadn’t cycled for years and I wanted to see how I’d go with a daily ride along a local beach path here in Melbourne. But rather than buy a new bike, only to discover that cycling wasn’t for me, I decided look for a cheap one on eBay.
Within hours I’d found one that looked just right – cheap and in good condition. Fantastic! I put in my bid and waited, heart thumping, as the final seconds of the auction ticked away.
“Yay – I won! Only $104 too, and I would have gone to $250!”! A bargain, or so I thought.
Excitedly, I arranged a pick up time with the local seller and jumped in my car.
A weak, infuriating sales pitch
Now I’m about average height for someone my age and nationality, maybe a bit on the short side – 5’9” (1.75m). But to be honest, I never really give it much thought.
Someone had actually posted a question on the auction page, asking about the size of the bike, to which the seller had replied "Well, I'm about 6 foot and it's fine for me." The saddle looked as though it had been raised in the picture, so I naturally assumed the bike would be fine for me too.
When he wheeled out the biggest bicycle I’d ever seen in my life – you can imagine my annoyance. I could hardly stand over the crossbar without doing myself a mischief. Why hadn’t he mentioned that his bike was made for a giant and an extra tall one, at that? He mumbled some feeble excuse and looked sheepishly at the ground.
"Well", I thought, “I have to honour my bid. You didn’t actually lie – but I’ll show you mate, you’ve made big mistake!” as I scowled and coughed up my $104. “...HUGE mistake! I’m a copywriter – you just watch me double my money on this piece of junk!”
My sweet revenge
A couple of weeks later I photographed it, did a little price research on the Internet, and put my own targeted auction listing up on eBay. My ad even included photographs of the scratches on the frame he’d conveniently forgotten to mention.
The headline and sub-header read as follows:
Nothing fancy in that – just clear and straightforward – but crucially, I tailored the ad to tall men. In my sales copy I also repeated the fact that it was a big bike. I also highlighted a feature of the bike that would help ease back pain (a common problem for tall people).
I even ended with: Please don’t bid if you’re under six foot. This is definitely a big guy’s bike – it’ll be too big for you!
The winning bid? $466.90 – not a bad return for an outlay of $104.
That, in a nutshell, is what targeting will do for your adverts.
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