Allison Rapp

10 Tips on Ethical Bribes, Bonuses and Pricing Your Offer

Ethical bribes, smart pricing and bonuses can help you grow your list and make more sales. But there are pitfalls. Here are 10 tips from a company that fell into 10 pits.


Recently, I traded my email address for a “free gift” promising 6 hacks to learning Spanish. The website had a course that promised to make me fluent in 5 weeks.

What can I tell you? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  I’d love to be fluent in a language I  currently know only from the grocery store, and in a mere 42 days. It was irresistible.


A free gift is an “ethical bribe”

I am sure we both know this free gift was being offered in order to get me to hand over my email address.

And you won’t be surprised when I tell you that you need a gift that does that, too, because it builds your list.

But keep reading, because I’m also going to tell you NOT to do what these folks are doing.


You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression

Of course, I opened my ’38-page e-book, “6 Simple Learn Spanish Hacks” ‘ as soon as it landed in my Inbox, because
a. I love instant gratification and
b. I was avoiding doing having to notice that I wasn’t doing something more important—that I didn’t want to do.

A few pages in, making the point for the first ‘hack,’ there was a video.

Well, actually, there wasn’t a video.

There was supposed to be a video.

But instead, there was this big black box:

OMG. I don’t even have words for how bad this is.

My first impression is that this company doesn’t care about Intellectual Property Rights.

OR they don’t check their links.

OR both.

Any way you slice this, it’s a mess.

Either they don’t care whose work they appropriate or they’re sloppy.

Which language school would you rather buy a course from—the one that takes other people’s work or the one with the sloppy copy in the free gift that’s supposed to impress potential clients?

Hmm… I just can’t decide.

Tip #1: Show up as the professional you want people to believe you are.
Tip #2: Don’t use anybody’s Intellectual Property without permission.
Tip #3: Check your links.


Wait. Where have I seen this before?

By Hack #2 I was starting to wonder why what I was reading was so familiar… and then realized that I had already seen every “hack” in this book on their website—you know, the website where they were offering the book of hacks to get my email address.

In fact, all 6 of the hacks were on the same page on their website, under the heading “Discover the unique method that hacks Spanish learning.”

Tip #4 It’s not an ethical bribe if you trick me into giving you my email address.
Tip #5 It’s not valuable if you give it to me before I give you my email address… and then you pretend it’s something new when you send it to me.

If I just read it on the main pages of your website, don’t offer me the same stuff in an ebook as if it were something I hadn’t seen yet.

I am fully aware that you want my email address, but it’s over the top to trick me into giving it to you, and then expect that I’m dumb enough not going to notice that you tricked me.

Don’t get me wrong. Repurposing content is a good thing.

People will love you for taking a few blog posts on the same topic that you published over several years and compile them into one easy-to-access downloadable e-book. It’s all on one topic, it’s easy to access, and that has value.

That’s the real idea of repurposing your content and there are a lot of ways to do it.

You can also repurpose content into a podcast, a series of emails, a Facebook Live, a video, or as a chapter in a full-length book.

The list is limited only by your imagination.

But don’t confuse repurposing CONTENT with bundling all your SALES COPY into an offer in exchange for my email address.


You think it’s worth WHAT??

Speaking of OMG!!, let’s talk about their pricing structure because of course, where all this leads is to the page where they hope I’ll buy their course.

You’ve probably heard me say that you should consider all of what you’re giving people when you think about what you charge.

But here’s the thing: some things just don’t make good bonuses.

For example: Imagine you have a restroom and you let your clients use it when they come for a session.

Positioning that as a bonus is a head-scratcher at best.

And saying that it’s worth 3 times more than your session is just plain stupid.

Sorry, I need a minute to stop laughing before I unpack what this is about…

These folks are offering to teach me conversational Spanish so my trip to Latin America will be more fun–and they value the content that does that at $297. On the face of it, it doesn’t sound unreasonable.

Here’s what they’re NOT doing:

  • They are not offering to teach me professional Spanish.
  • Not telling me I can get a job translating documents for attorneys.
  • Not saying this is Spanish for academics who want to teach in Spanish at University level.

Yet, one of their bonuses is a Certificate of Completion and Badge for LinkedIn.

Based on a final test they created around their course.

And the value of this bonus? $899.

First, I don’t need a language badge to prove I can order dinner on my vacation.

Second, the ridiculous assertion that this is worth $899 simultaneously achieves 2 undesirable outcomes:

  • It devalues the course itself.
  • It makes me seriously question the sanity of the people who want my money.

If you think a graphic you made on Canva in 10 minutes is worth $899, what does that say about the content of your course—that you value at $297?

Altogether there were 6 bonuses. Another one that made me shake my head was the Ultimate Guide to Spanish pickup lines and insults.

Okay, let’s assume I don’t want to get picked up. But if I’m drunk enough to be unable to figure out that’s what’s happening without knowing Spanish, I doubt this guide would help me. And believe me, if I want to insult someone, I don’t need Spanish to do it.

Tip #6 Bonuses can be great. Or not.
Tip #7 Bonuses are worthless if they are not related to why I am buying the product.
Tip #8 Bonuses that are insanely inflated in value work against you.
Tip #9 Do NOT name your bonus “The Ultimate Guide” to anything.

I’ll bet you think 9 mistakes from one business is enough.

But wait.
Because right now, you can get all this for JUST $97… 94% off!


Tip #10 Don’t come across as desperate.

Just don’t.

Everything else you said was just diminished.

I could believe that you’re offering a special but 94% off does nothing to make me believe in the value of what you’re asking me to buy.

It makes me want to run away.

To my computer.

And write a blog post using you as an example of OMG!!


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