97 Tricks

  • Jeff Gibbard
  • 4 min read

I have a new online course coming out soon called Hyperfocus that is a complete productivity system for people with ADHD, and I have a question for you.

Should I price it at $497 or $499?

On second thought, don’t answer that, I have another question…

I’m only planning on offering 3 licenses in the first 6 months, do you want to join the waiting list?

No, no, no, wait…don’t answer that. I know what I really want to ask you.

Why are these obviously scammy sales and marketing tactics still a thing?

Transparent Tactics

  • Go through the directory of all online courses and all online product downloads, and they often have a price ending in 99 or 97.
  • Look at most online courses or webinars and you’ll notice that despite being online and infinitely scalable, they often have limited seats and even more limited time to sign up before the deadline.
  • Watch any advertisement on Youtube for making money and you’ll notice they all follow the same script about someone going from rags to riches when they discovered this one simple trick.

With all that has been written about these marketing and sales tactics there’s no way that people are falling for it, right?

I’m not so sure, however, my gut tells me that even though 99% of us can see through the BS, that 1% still makes it worth it to continue playing these games.

99

For nearly a century, companies have been setting their prices at $4.99 instead of $5.00. For anyone left who doesn’t know why, it’s because of a psychological trick that takes advantage of our tendency to read prices left to right. By seeing a lower number at the left, the price appears lower in our minds even though we rationally understand the real price after rounding. Something $997 is really $1,000. Something $4.99 is really $5.00.

We all know it. And yet, we’re still doing it.

The trick is all laid out for us to see. As consumers, the most we can really do is be annoyed. As businesses, however, we can choose to respect our customers enough to round up and be honest about the price, choosing instead to focus on making the product or service worth the actual, honest price. No tricks.

Limited Time Only

Since at least 1984 when Robert Cialdini published Influence, possibly even earlier with the invention of the department store “sale,” or possibly even before that, scarcity has been a tool to move people into action.

We know it, but sometimes we still can’t help ourselves. When we see that Amazon listing shows “only 1 left in stock” we spring into action.

Unfortunately, we don’t know if that’s even true, as clever marketers everywhere realized that there doesn’t actually need to be real scarcity to use the tactic.

So, we continue to get campaigns that push and press on us to take action now before it’s too late.

Immunity

One of the things that I’ve gotten from a decade in marketing is a greater awareness of the tactics attempting to be used on me. Once I see the trick, it’s harder for me to be fooled by it. Part of Becoming Superhuman, as you learn and think, is developing an immunity to manipulation. For me, I’ve found that companies that take the alternative approach of being honest, are somewhat refreshing. I think a lot of customers are looking for a little more honesty in the world.

This is why, for at least the last 8 years, my prices have been flat numbers: $5, $50, $500, $5,000, etc.

As I release my products and courses in the future, I plan to make all of them flat round numbers.

So, as I finish off this short rant, I guess my final question to you is, what do you really think about these tactics?

  • As a consumer, do you still find yourself falling for these tactics? Did you even realize it’s happening?
  • As a business, do you think it still makes sense — amidst widespread adoption and bastardization of these strategies — to continue playing pricing games, creating artificial scarcity, and generally being dishonest with one another?

I look forward to your thoughts.

Becoming Superhuman
Becoming Superhuman
97 Tricks
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