Recently a coaching client asked me if I felt it is ethical to do a forced continuity?
My answer is most definitely as long as the continuity is made clear on the page. If you’ve clearly explained that the person will be billed monthly until they cancel, then there isn’t a problem with it at all.
Note: Forced continuity simply means that if you buy a specific product you are automatically added to monthly recurring billing of some type. It could be a physical product or it could be digitally delivered such as a membership site.
I know why they asked the question.
It’s because there has been such an uproar over “hidden continuity” in internet circles lately.
Hidden continuity is when you’re added to monthly billing without it being made clear on the sales page. For example, there are many “Free CD” offers out there. On these offers you pay for the shipping of the CD (in the pricing for most of them the actual CD cost is included as well). Then you’re automatically added to some type of monthly continuity program.
Up to this point there isn’t a problem. The problem is that the ONLY mention of the continuity billing is in one of the free bonuses. You don’t see mention of it on the order form. You don’t see any mention on it anywhere near the order link on the sales page.
If you don’t read every single word of the letter…specifically all the bonuses…you won’t know about the monthly billing.
For example, recently I came across a site that sold a “free CD” with these exact words, “Yours Absolutely Free, Without Commitments, or Obligations.”
The only mention of any continuity is in one of the bonuses. There is no other mention of this continuity anywhere else you can find. The only reason I found it is because I was looking hard for it since someone else gave me it as an example of the “hidden continuity.”
If I wasn’t specifically looking hard for it, reading the whole letter 3 times, I would have never found it.
Yet, the statement, “Yours Absolutely Free, Without Commitments, or Obligations” appeared on the page at least 7 times that I counted.
I wonder what they would consider a “commitment” or “obligation.” Monthly billing is a commitment in my book. It didn’t say “no long term committments.” It said “no committments.”
I’m sure if I asked them they would say they tested this and the current form produces the absolute best conversion percentage. I wouldn’t doubt that one bit. It’s not a question of conversion.
It’s a question of fraud in that case. I’m not a lawyer so can’t say anything on the legalities of that method, but that’s not what we’re discussing here. The FTC does have a section of their site about continuity plans.
The say the plan must be presented “clearly and conspicuously” which I guess could be interpreted in different ways.
What we are discussing is you can use forced continuity ethically in your business to increase your profits and produce better results for your clients. I commented to one other marketer this week that his CD offer needed a mention on the order form about the continuity…which he quickly added in.
Continuity plans are a BIG benefit to your business if you’re not using them (just use them ethically). In fact, every business I work with, we try to get at least one if not multiple continuity plans in place.
What do you have in your business?
It could be as simple as doing an interview with an expert each month (which you send out in mp3 format or on CD). Or you could do a report each week you send out by email (similar to how Jimmy Brown does Membernaire.com). Or you could set up a membership using WordPress to manage your content and Amember.com to protect it (very good membership script that’s been around for years).
If you don’t have a continuity program, get one setup in your market. Just don’t “hide” the details!Related Entries:
- Continuity is King
- Internet Business Garbage
- Who Messed Up Your Jigsaw Puzzle?
- Which Membership Site Will You Start?
- Coaching Price Increase