Today I was in an awkward position… I found out where and how my competitors are being supplied. I saw their costs and was able to determine their gross margins. In some cases they are slim to none and in other cases they are disgustingly handsome. I was, for a moment… envious… and tempted to align with the same supplier… Those resellers are offering a very low priced alternative to my service but at a cost: The cost is uncertainty for the consumer. Their general shadyness is being demonstrated by non-disclosure of what might happen to their customers. The service that my competitors are offering is likely to result in a complete reversal of the service the customer paid for in a few months from now. They are either making no disclosure of this potential for reversal in their sales material or are hiding their disclaimers deep in their terms of service. I am finding reports of service reversals on industry forums and the complaints are slowly trickling in as the providers are catching on to the illegitimate method that they are using. I don’t want to go into detail yet as I have not yet released my own service but I want to talk about why I am choosing the path of righteousness by not playing in the same space.
I think that while I may receive fewer sales (in both volume and revenue) than my competitors, I will be able to serve a sizable and important niche – the skeptical consumer. Ramit has been successful because he offers a valuable product that he fully controls. I too, would have full control of my offering compared to my competitors who are reselling a service that they do not control. Ramit turns customers away regularly. He either turns them away because they are in credit card debt and he does not want to contribute any further to that or he turns them away from his blog and mailing lists because they are being annoying freeloaders. As I am drafting my copy, I think that it is best to ignore the cost sensitive prospects and that it is best to invite them to leave as I’ll never win them over anyway. I think that my target customer would pay for reassurance that when he pays me for the service, it will be performed, and it will not be reversed on him in the future.
Joanna Wiebe describes in Copyhackers book 1 that writing to the masses will weaken your copy and that its worth the risk alienating some in order to be highly desirable to a few. She also goes on to describe the importance of your messages being what the customer wants to hear and that those messages must be unique to your product. Her step by step approach in this book is incredibly helpful. By the way, this is the THIRD time I am reading this book. I read all of her books twice over for my first landing page and am re-reading it for the third time for my second landing page. I would be lost in the wilderness if it wasn’t for her book. If you are writing sales copy for the web, you are a fool if you do not have all of her books on copywriting and writing long form sales pages.
By sticking to these values to provide a quality service to a well understood prospect I’ll be able to stand proudly by my work and offer a guarantee that none of my competitors could ever fathom providing.
Forward march. Err… write.