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Better Business Idea # 29

Ugly Can Be Profitable!

© 1999 by Michael C. Gray

September 30, 1999

One of the points emphasized by Dan Kennedy and other experts in marketing information products is that it can be disadvantageous to have too "pretty" of a product.

The reason is people look for comparisons for value. For example, if you buy a nice business book at the bookstore, how much "should" it cost? Usually you would expect to pay from $9.95 to $49.95. Anything more than that is "overpriced."

But when someone sells a book by mail order of "Business Explosion Secrets" that is spiral-bound and looks like it was printed in the basement, the product is consistent with the story. Can a book for the mass market really contain "secrets"? The "ugly" book could be sold for $250 or more, because it is not being sold "as a book," but as valuable information. Of course, the customer must believe the credibility of the author of the "ugly book."

Jeff Paul has a fantastic story. He was living in his sister-in-law’s basement. His family was embarrassed to admit he was a member. He was over $100,000 in credit card debt. Then he turned his life around in direct marketing. His most famous product is an advertising course, How To Make $4,000 A Day Sitting At Your Kitchen Table In Your Underwear. This product sold like hotcakes through mail order. It was produced at a local Kinkos shop.

Then Jeff worked with an infomercial company to sell the product on television. It flopped. Why? The "spruced up, beautiful" appearance of the product was no longer consistent with the story of a real person working out of his kitchen in his underwear! The infomercial company even insisted that Jeff wear a suit for the infomercial! Jeff has sworn never to wear a suit and tie again except for a family wedding or a funeral.

Nightingale-Conant has established a guideline price of $10 per cassette tape. By making an "apples to oranges" comparison of what it would cost to get the same information at a seminar, other marketers are getting considerably more.

There is a lesson here to be applied in developing any product or service. Is the product or service and its packaging consistent with the sales story? Have you developed a persuasive sales story that really builds the value of the product or service? Is the message matched to the market you are addressing? When you resolve these questions, you may well find that ugly is profitable!

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