How to stop big price tags scaring off potential buyers

Reducing the impact of high price sticker shock.

7 secrets to reducing sticker shock and landing big paying clients.

“I worry that clients will get sticker shock at my new price and say no.”

One of my Confident Copywriters was sharing her thoughts around a long overdue price increase and a new minimum $8K threshold for projects.

It’s a big price tag but when you consider how much she puts into her brand messaging package, it’s great value for money.

The sticker shock is real though.

Merriam-Webster defines sticker shock as the “astonishment and dismay experienced on being informed of a product’s unexpectedly high price.”

It’s the moment we think always leads to a

But it doesn’t have to.

A nasty surprise or shock can be softened or even prevented with some strategic copywriting.

It’s all about crafting the moment to ramp up excitement, demonstrate value and boost credibility before you present your price.

These techniques don’t just apply to your own offers, you should absolutely use them in your client copy too.

1. Share experience and credentials

Before someone will invest a lot of coin, they need to know you aren’t some fly-by-night-scam artist who will take their money and run. We’ll get to talking about outcomes in a bit but right now, you need to share your experience and credentials.

This is when a lot of people get a little shy thinking they’re bragging but this is no time to be shy.

A big price needs some big cred so cherry pick the juicy (or any) cred bombs and make sure they are in your proposal bio or sales page.

Some of those cred bombs might include:

  • Courses or programs you’ve taken
  • Degrees or certifications you’ve earned
  • Awards you’ve won
  • Media you’ve been mentioned in
  • Clients you’ve worked with
  • Results you’ve achieved for them.

Your goal here is to make sure you’re perceived as someone who has the skills to do the job and is worth paying more than Upwork prices for.

2. List all the inclusions

This post is all about considering the experience of a potential buyer before, during and after they see the price tag.

When you list inclusions of your service and explain their value before someone sees the price, you set more accurate expectations.

We often see this on course pages when each bonus has a Valued at price so readers appreciate these aren’t cheap ass freebies that are just being thrown in.

But you should also do this with your copywriting service description. For example your service doesn’t simply include copywriting and proofreading. It includes:

  • Copywriting briefing plus additional topic research
  • Using creative and engaging language that clearly (and quickly) explains exactly how you will help your visitors (300-400 words per page)
  • Maximum usage of your search engine keywords and phrases to increase the relevancy of your site in the eyes of search engines (= higher rankings)
  • Optimised title and description tags for each page included in this project
  • A copy deck that outlines relevant SEO linking and header mark-ups making your implementation easy
  • Two rounds of revisions to ensure you’re happy with the wording
  • Professional proofreading of the final version to make sure no pesky typos ruin your reputation.

As you can see from this example, you can also elevate the value of an inclusion by explaining what that feature makes possible for the buyer.

Your goal here is to make sure that when a buyer gets to the price, they already feel like they’re getting incredible value for their investment.

3. Give them a roadmap

Feeling anxious about a big purchase is entirely normal. Our vulnerabilities are exposed as we worry if our investment will pay off. In these moments, we’re looking for certainty and guidance. Explaining what comes next goes a long way to making new customers feel safe.

            After you buy, you’ll be taken to…

            When you join, you’ll get…

            When we work together, we begin by…

It could be a couple of sentences, a few paragraphs or a list of steps but giving buyers a roadmap of what happens when they work with you reduces the risk of a big price tag.

Your goal here is to make sure buyers understand that when they invest, they will be welcomed into a proven process that delivers results.

4. Anchor the price

Price anchoring establishes a price point that customers can relate to when making decisions. You can use this technique in a few ways.

Refer to something they’re familiar with, like the cost of a cup of coffee if you’re creating a price comparison. Or their commute to work, for a time comparison.

            For the price of your Grande Starbucks…

            In the time it takes you to drive to work …

Your goal here to help your buyers equate the investment with one they’re familiar with (and already making).

You can also compare prices against different values to make the price of your offer seem more appealing. Like, comparing the (high) “valued at” price with the “retail” price, then finally the “actual” sale price – which will feel like a steal to your client.

            Valued $3500. Retailing at $1999. Grab it today for just $750.

Your goal here is to set their mental expectations of the price much higher than the actual price (we usually compare the price we pay with the first price we’ve seen).

5. Link to their future

This technique is essential before, during and after a solution is presented, to put the potential buyer into their future self. The future where their big sticky problem is solved and they’re living their best life.

In copywriting, we call it future pacing.

Include big picture outcomes as well as smaller advantages they’ll experience along the way.

A big picture outcome might be the financial gains from more effective copywriting while the advantages along the way will include saving time and hassle by outsourcing it to you.

We go deep into this in my copywriting program, The Inkubator.

Your goal here is to get buyers more invested in that outcome before they see the price as having it within grasp makes them more likely to take action.

6. Drop lots of proof

Most buyers will experience some sticker shock when they see a big price tag. It’s normal, but with the techniques I’ve outlined so far, you can make sure the prevailing narrative is “That’s a high price but it sure seems like good value… and I want it.”

We don’t need it to be a no-brainer. We need the investment to seem viable.

The ultimate technique to soften the blow is dropping proof that your services (or your client’s solution) will deliver on the promises being made. I’m talking about testimonials, reviews and quotes that boost your cred even more.  

Match testimonials and quotes to your buyers’ objections and fear, desires and outcomes. Make sure you place the outcome-focused quotes around the price so when buyers see the price tag, their eyes are immediately drawn to someone talking about the results they achieved.

The more measurable those results are the better.

You can also become a lot more strategic about how you present the possible outcomes and results.

When you’re looking at quantitative (measurable) outcomes like income earned, conversion rates, click throughs, etc., you can make even small results seem more impressive by using a percentage.

            10 people bought (from a list of 25)


            40% conversion rate

            Charging $10 more per hour


            A 372% increase in monthly invoiced amounts

This technique could be used to mislead buyers but I’m going to assume you’re not an evil genius scrolling the internet for manipulative marketing techniques you can use to trick customers.

Don’t these results look incredible?

But here’s the thing about incredible numbers… they are impossible or at least difficult to believe. That’s the definition of incredible, and it can work against us.

Whether it’s the total value of the bonus list (Total value: Eleventy BILLION dollar-bucks) or the number play we do, we need to make sure the numbers are real and believable.

Your goal here is to make sure buyers see tangible proof that the outcome they’ve imagined is really possible because others have achieved it (with you).

7. Use them in all pricing copy

These techniques are useful whenever you’re guiding a buyer to a price, big or small. The bigger the price, the more you should use them.

When you intentionally and strategically craft the moments before you present a price tag, the shock factor of a big price is lessened. By the time they see it, buyers expect to pay (almost) anything to get the value and outcomes they’ve seen, delivered smoothly by the expert for this job.


2 Responses

  1. Great post ! I am going to apply them while pricing my cooking workshops. Thanks Belinda for always sharing some great content so much learning.

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