Years ago, when The Tonight Show ruled late-night TV and when all the guests weren’t celebrities promoting their latest book, movie, or TV show, host Johnny Carson interviewed the Girl Scout who sold the most cookies that year. This young lady, Markita Andrews, set a cookie-sales record that has yet to be broken. What was her technique? In addition to hard work, she used a framing strategy to make her customers view the purchase as a trivial expense:

During the interview Johnny asked: “What’s the secret to your success?” Markita replied, “I just went to everyone’s house and said, ‘Can I have a $30,000 donation for the Girl Scouts?” When they said ‘No,’ I said, ‘Would you at least buy a box of Girl Scout cookies?’ [From Success Magazine - How to Win More Sales 5 Lessons I Learned From the Best Selling Girl Scout in America by David Rivers.]

This isn’t unlike sticker price framing, where the list price of a product greatly exceeds the sale price, making the latter look like a bargain. In Markita’s case, though, the strategy was a little different. By throwing out the $30,000 number, she made the few bucks for some cookies seem trivial. (I’m sure the fact that the message was delivered by a no-doubt charming little girl helped as well.)

Even if you aren’t a precocious 8-year old, there’s a real-world neuromarketing strategy here. If you can introduce a large number into the sales process, a much smaller purchase price will be cast in a better light. Try it out. You won’t get on the Tonight Show, or even Letterman, but you might close a sale.

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