Researchers at Ohio State University have discovered that we just love big numbers. In fact, the bigger the better it seems.

The study has important implications for anyone in business – particularly online where people are looking for the prices of your products and services rather keenly.

Here’s what the study showed. We all know that £1 is the same value as 100 pence. But we also know that 100 is bigger than 1. So, it appears we perceive 100 pence to be more valuable than £1 – even though they are identical.

This can be used to your advantage when trying to sell. Let’s imagine you sell a workshop at £250 per person. One of your marketing techniques may be to offer a 15% discount for “early booking”. But 15% of £250 is £37.50 – a bigger number, hence a more attractive one to use. Perhaps even better would be to sell the “early booking” discount as a “3750p” discount. That sounds a whole lot more massive than a mere “15%…!

Equally, if your service is likely to help people save money – say £10 a month on their phone bill – tell them instead it will save them “12,000p” a year. The bigger saving (even though it is identical) will appear better.

We have known for years that our ability to immediately understand numbers is pretty limited. We perceive odd numbers to be lower than even numbers, for instance, which explains why we can think 99p is less than 98p….! We know it isn’t – it just sounds as though it is during the fraction of a second we look at a price.

There are all sorts of ways you can experiment with numbers in online selling. But this latest research shows us that perception is an important consideration to make – over logic. Make your potential customers perceive a higher value – even if it is identical to a more usual representation of a figure – and you are going to make it more attractive to them.

I predict lots of web sites now with discounts showing in cents rather than dollars or percentages…!

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