Ryan Deiss, who is a friend and marketer I highly respect, didn't see eye-to-eye with me on some issues. One of them is certainly forced continuity.
However, just this morning he released a new report, entitled, “The Death of Forced Continuity.” I've read it, and it's a good report. I recommend it.
Granted, Ryan's intent in releasing this report is not 100% altruistic. After all, he is, like me, a diehard capitalist.
Ryan sells a course on how to create continuity programs, and he certainly makes the case for his own product in this report. However, noble or not, he did switch gears and noticed a dramatic improvement in his overall profits, which he shares in this report.
So read it because it contains a few very powerful lessons on the subject of forced continuity, and what you can do instead to make more money with continuity programs.
I believe in continuity programs. And I don't mind forced continuity as a consumer, either. But I'm not a fan of it.
However, there's a difference between using and abusing forced continuity. The latter is the one I have an issue with.
I personally wouldn't use it myself, but I do believe it is a legitimate sales tool. What I don't like about it is that it has such great potential for being misused.
It's being abused by a few unscrupulous marketers, who are deliberately poisoning the well for the rest of us.
That's when they hide it or “switch” it.
(My wife calls this “sleight-of-hand continuity” in her controversial report, “Internet Marketing Sins.”
Forced continuity is when a marketer sells product “A,” but in order to get it you must subscribe to product “B,” which is a continuity program. To buy product “A.,” you are forced onto the continuity program “B,” in other words.
This, in itself, is perfectly fine.
The issue is when product “A” is a veiled attempt at getting people on a continuity program. To a large extent, this isn't bad either. What's bad is when:
A) Product “A” is completely different and irrelevant to the offer. Usually, it's a big giveaway of tons o' free stuff, with a massive price tag, and one for which you only have to pay shipping or, at the very least, $1.
(If you have to pay shipping or even just a dollar, it's no longer free, in my estimation. But that's another rant for another day.)
Nevertheless, it can't be free. You have to pay this small amount, because they need your credit card to bill you on the backend for continuity product “B.”
B) The continuity offer is hidden or muddied in tiny print somewhere, often only in the last step of the whole purchase process — i.e., the order form or before checkout.
The reason I think this is slimy is because they are hiding the real reason they're making the offer — especially if it's a supposedly free one.
But many marketers will slide in the continuity in the backend as a bonus, usually a free trial (e.g., the first month, or 30 days, being free, but then your credit card gets hammered every month thereafter).
This sleight of hand (according to most laws, this is a version of “bait and switch,” which is illegal in most locales) not only leaves a bad taste in people's mouths, but the chances they will buy additional, backend offers are considerably lessened.
Why? Because once bitten, twice shy.
They may like your offer. They may like you. Heck, they may even like your product and the continuity program, too. But they know what they went through the first time. And chances are, they will think you will use this tactic again on them.
Besides, when marketers add the continuity on the last step of the purchase process, their prospects have just invested a ton of time and effort in reading their copy, in choosing to buy from them, and in trusting them thus far.
Abandoning the shopping cart at this point seems much less appealing, after all this emotional and psychological investment they've made.
(And forced continuity marketers who abuse the process rely on this. As my wife says, “They act as if they're ashamed of their continuity offers.” Or as my friend Armand Morin often says, “Why don't they just sell the darn continuity?”)
Ryan makes the case for optional continuity, and lists a healthy series of benefits on why it is far better than — and how he makes more money with it over — forced continuity.
I applaud him wholeheartedly.
In fact, in the report Ryan spells out the “take rate,” which at first may appear as lower with optional continuity, but on the long-term, makes more money.
To save space, I recommend you go download his report, and read why he changed his philosophy so drastically. (I think my wife had a hand in this, but I'm just guessing.) 😉
Chances are, someone who buys your product based on an optional continuity will be happier, more satisfied, and a lot more confident you won't pull another fast one when you make additional offers. So, you will likely sell more in the backend.
A lot more.
Besides, it's good ol' fashioned selling.
When I used to be in sales, one of the best techniques I was taught was “the assumptive close.” The logic in this technique is simply this: you assume the sale. You assume your prospect is willing to go ahead. And when you do, the likelihood is that they will.
For example, they say that, rather than asking a “yes or no” question, you should ask a “A or B” question instead. Rather than, “Mrs. Prospect, would you like to buy this car today?” Ask, “Would you prefer your car in red or in blue?”
If they answer “red,” or “blue,” then they've decided to go ahead.
This is what optional continuity, in large part, does. For example, if people are presented with just one offer, and they arrive at the order form where they see that the offer comes with a forced continuity, they may be tempted to leave and abandon the shopping cart.
It's either buy it or don't. Period.
But if you present them with two options, such as the main offer, and an alternative with an optional continuity, you are giving them a choice — rather than removing it from them.
Bottom line, by adding the continuity as an option, you also remove the potential of leaving a bad taste in your customers' mouths (even if it's only subtle and negligible), build a trustworthy brand, and undoubtedly increase trust.
To me, forced continuity, or any other “trick” marketers use is like spam.
A spammer will send out millions of emails knowing full well that only a small percentage of them will get through, get read, and get acted upon. Even though 80% of their emails are never delivered, it only takes 20% to make spam work.
Think of it like a can of spam you throw against the wall. (Yes, the canned meat version.) Most of it will fall to the ground. But little bits of it will stick to the wall.
Gross, I know. But that's just like email spam, isn't it?
And it's very much the same philosophy a lot of bad marketers have. They attempt to skim the cream off the top of the barrel, as much as they can. They may only get 20%, but hey, it's fast, immediate, and yes, “it works!” Right?
But they do this, with no care or attention to the fact that their real customers — that long-term, highly profitable, and most nutritious part of the “market” — is in the larger bottom 80% of the milk barrel.
A final comment.
Ryan did use a few examples in his report, but I think some of them were still wrong or slightly misleading.
For example, he used Proactiv Solution to illustrate forced continuity. It's certainly a good example of forced continuity. But if you look closely, the solution's main offer is for a bottle of Proactiv, and then you get a month's supply, every second month, billed to your credit card.
The fact is, it's still the same product!
Forced continuity? Yes. But it's not sleight of hand continuity. They are not offering, say, a free package of acne pads and, oh by the way, you also get a bottle every other month of this solution for $XX.XX thereafter.
Or even better, they are not offering something completely different or irrelevant, like a makeup kit, hairstyling products, or mama's Italian cooking recipes from the hillsides of Tuscany, in the front-end.
Even the Sports Illustrated example Ryan used is a tad misleading. Because, although you get the football phone, calendar with bikini-clad models, or whatever as a free bonus to subscribing to Sports Illustrated magazine, the main offer is still a subscription to Sports Illustrated!
The continuity program is the main offer, while the bonuses are… well… bonuses. Bonuses for joining the continuity program. Not a continuity program as a bonus.
Anyway, go read Ryan's report now. It's an easy read and only 35 pages.
I'm in no way affiliated and not getting anything from this recommendation. Not a single penny. Ryan Deiss doesn't even know I'm doing this. But I'm recommending his report because I think it's a good one with a powerful concept whose time has come.
Michel Fortin is a senior marketing specialist, renowned copywriter, and digital marketing expert. For the better part of 30 years, he's produced countless successful marketing communications and profitable campaigns that generated in excess of $300 million in sales. He's broken many industry sales records, including being instrumental behind the first ever “million-dollar day” online marketing campaign in 2004. He's worked with thousands of businesses and entrepreneurs around the world in a wide variety of industries on building their businesses, improving their marketing, and increasing their profits. He's a published author and often speaks at industry events. To connect with him, visit his LinkedIn profile where he is most active.