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May 2010The monthly newsletter by Felgall Pty Ltd

My Word

One Time Offers

One thing a lot of internet marketers use to try to get more people to pay for a particular product is by using a one time offer.

What is a one time offer (OTO)? A one time offer is a web page that offers you a particular product or upgrade at a special price. Generally it will tell you what the regular price is and then offer to sell it to you at a reduced price but you must buy it now because you're never going to see it offered at that price again.

There are two aspects to a one time offer that I think provide a very good reason for NOT buying from that page when you first see it.

The first reason is that at the time the offer is made you have almost no information on which to determine whether the product or upgrade is worth buying at all. A one time offer is usually presented to you when you are part way through the process of obtaining some other product from the same marketer - either a free item or membership or something that is a lot cheaper than the product in the one time offer. At this point you haven't even seen the first product you are obtaining from this marketer and so you don't know if their products are good value for money or complete garbage. Why would you want to spend money on obtaining something else from tem if it turns out that all their products are garbage?

The only way to find out the quality of the products on offer is to obtain the product you went there to get in the first place and to study it fully before considering whether any other product or upgrade from the same source will be worth it. In many cases you will decide either that what you have already obtained gives you everything you need or that this particular marketer's products are not suitable for you. If you make either of those decisions then not having taken up the one time offer has actually saved you money since you have decided you didn't need it anyway.

The entire purpose of a one time offer is to try to get you to make a decision to buy before you have the opportunity to make the decision that you don't need that product/upgrade. They can make lots more money from their one time offer of they sell lots more of them at a lower price than they'd make selling a much smaller number at a higher price.

The thing is that with the way that the internet works there is no such thing as a true one time offer. If they are still making that one time offer to new signups at the time you decide that you wish that you had aken advantage of it then you will almost certainly be able to still obtain that price at the time you want to buy rather than paying the full price they threatened you with at the time they first made that offer.

This is particularly easy if the product you were signing up for in the first place was a free one and is still available free. All you need to do in that case is to sign up for the free product again. You may need to use a different email address in order to sign up the second time but in that situation it is extremely unlikely that they'd have collected enough information about you in the signup process to be able to match up the two signups as belonging to the same person. If they still show the same one time offer for each new signup then you will be able to deliberately choose to take advantage of it this time around since you have already gathered the available information to allow you to properly make that decision.

Where the original product you signed up for is not free (or was when you first signed up but isn't any more) then things are slightly more complicated but not greatly so. Usually the marketer will have at least some products that they give away free from time to time where they include a one time offer as a part of their signup process. If you get on their appropriate mailing lists using an email address different from the one you already used to sign up for their first product then you will eventually receive an appropriate offer from them which includeds the one time offer you are looking for.

The maximum impact that a one time offer can have unless they withdraw it completely and don't offer it to anyone any more is to simply affect how long you will have to wait before being able to obtain what you are after at the reduced price. You never know they may even lower the price further while you are waiting.

In almost every case if you decide to purchase a product that you previously saw in a one time offer you will be able to purchase that product at that price. Very rarely would you end up needing to pay the full price when the marketer has a one time offer that offers a lower price because despite its name there is no way the marketer can tell that you have seen their one time offer before and so you will be able to buy on the second or possibly the fifth occasion on which you see that same one time offer.

The marketer still benefits from advertising it as a one time offer as there will be a percentage of those who don't realise how easy it is to get the one time offer to display again who will buy the first time because they think they are saving money now even though it they will eventually discover that they actually wasted their money on something they didn't need. They also gain from offering a higher regular price since many of those who don't buy the first time and who subsequently decide to buy will pay that price rather than using a small amount of effort to gain access to the one time offer again.

Using a one time offer and a higher regular price is all to the sellers advantage. For the buyer who wants to properly consider their options first and then buy if appropriate, it just makes things more complicated for them. The biggest disadvantage is in being able to organise to get to the one time offer page again. Where accessing that page is too difficult you may reconsider and decide not to buy after all.

Then there is the matter of ethics. Just how ethical is it to claim that a price reduction is a one time offer when in fact most people seeing it will be able to see the offer again if they really want to. Just how ethical is it to offer a higher regular price when smarter buyers can manipulate things to get a lower price. perhaps the better deal is to just offer the lower price on an ongoing basis. Of course then you miss out on conning people into taking up the offer who don't need it and charging those who know less about how computers work a higher price than you do to those who understand computers better but there would be the satisfaction in knowing that all of your sales are legitimate and that you haven't pressured anyone into buying something they don't actually want.

On Site

For three weeks of the past month SitePoint have been running an online class they called 'JavaScript Live' and I was invited to participate. That resulted in my being so busy helping answer questions during the course, writiing a five page review of the course, and also writing a few articles and making notes for many more from ideas I got from the course that I haven't had much time to spend on new ideas for this site. One thing I do hope to start publishing in the next few weeks are the first few tutorials in a new series on writing PHP intended for people who already know JavaScript since it will mostly deal with the ways in which PHP works differently to the way JavaScript works.

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