Business-focused topics from Jason and Kim. We’ll discuss deceptive business tactics like perpetual sales, strike through pricing that isn’t real, disabled plugin features until you “upgrade”. We also talk about a new product idea for a global “Out of the Office” settings app that Kim had (and Jason isn’t excited about!).

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Transcript: Season 2, Episode 9

Welcome back to that talking thing. I’m Kim I’m Jason. This is episode nine, season two, and it’s a business topic episode, and I’m stealing the show. I’m going to ask the only questions today and I hope I don’t catch you off guard. No anything. So my first one is kind of a controversial thing. I’m ready to dig into this and name names and feel it because it’s affects us.

It affects our business. It affects our team. So it’s based on deceptive business tactics. What do users think about it? How do we as other developers of WordPress products, how do we observe these deceptive tactics? And does it even matter? Is it worth engaging in. The number one deceptive business tactic that a direct competitor of ours uses is a perpetual sale.

I was on a call with Patrick, our team member, and he said, don’t you just wish one day they got their come up. And that users realize that this is a total lie. This isn’t an opportunity to buy something at a discount. Their actual price is their discounted price. And I said, sure do I sure wish they would.

That would be revealed, but it hasn’t been, so I guess it’s two part, let’s talk about what are some deceptive business tactics? What have we tried in the nature of testing deceptive tactics and what do users actually think of those things? Yeah. I’m not so sure that. Folks like MemberPress you said name names who have perpetual sales and by the way, like they’re not the only website it’s super common.

Yes. Are trying to be deceptive. Um, a lot of marketing is kind of psychology, behavioral modification type stuff. So when does it cross the line be high and like crossed a line? You know, just nudging the person, the buyer in a direction to really being deceptive or, you know, what we would consider a bad practice, but I always thought like, don’t lie to your customer.

So that’s kind of a line, right? So it feels really simple that I feel that the customer. So even if they’re little lies, they subconsciously pick up on these things over time. And they just get the sense of like, they’re not serious. And that is one that interests me when I see that, you know, it’s, it kind of, it makes me just feel like, why are they doing that?

Or is it not really worth something or there’s something wrong here. Um, but I also think folks who use those kinds of perpetual sales and I don’t, maybe we didn’t even describe what it is, but you’ll see. It’s like a banner at the top of the page saying you have three hours to save temporary. Oh, it’s for four hours, three hours, 53 minutes or something.

Yeah. I, and then, yeah, it’ll, their price will always show up as strike through because like people love getting a deal. And I think the philosophy behind that too. People come to your website, they might be comparing you to other options, or maybe they might get the thought to compare you to other options, some point during the checkout.

But if they feel like, oh my gosh, I have to make the decision. Now this is like FOMO, fear of missing out, encourages people to like, yeah, go ahead. Do it. You should get, you know, you got hurry up. Just kind of nudges people towards buying, which to hurry up is okay. But it is like, is it just, it’s kind of lying to say this is a sale now.

I, I actually, I literally know that those folks would say, because they’ve said it back to me when I was like, isn’t that weird? They’ll say, well, it’s not actually false. Like it’s programmed for the sale to stop after four hours. I mean, it’s tied to a cookie. That’s gonna refresh every four hours also. I dunno, like they’re fooling themselves a little bit.

I think some countries maybe have rules around these, but also a lot of online stuff. Countries have rules that are like very kind of this gray area. And if you really tried to adhere to every cent, you would have to, you know, have 20 engineers just to figure out. I see in this. And I think it’s something we may be starting to do ourselves for our plugin.

Paid memberships. Pro is cripple where, or the idea of features that aren’t enabled until some other thing is active. So whether that’s a licensed key, a pro version or some other companion plugin MemberPress who owns exact metrics, is that what it’s called? Has another plugin that is free and we’re trusted monster insights that is free

And it has tabs of settings that are all disabled and grayed out and not able to be used until you you’ve added an upgraded to a professional version of the plugin. And we do this subtly in our plug and we have. Links that say to, um, expand on expiration date options, try the set expiration dates out on with a link to that add on.

So we’re doing it kind of subtly. I think we’ve thought about ways to do it more overtly. Do you feel that that’s a deceptive business tactic, like including things that don’t actually work, but they’re turned off now? I think it it’s, it’s an interesting way to show them how to use. You know, like, Hey, we have extra stuff that you have to pay for.

I think that’s okay. From a user’s perspective, how do they feel nickel and dime? Do they, do they feel like they’re using a lesser version and incomplete? And so, yeah, I don’t think it’s that part of things is deceptive of like showing features that they may not have yet and they have to pay for, but I do, I do think it’s a bad experience.

Sometimes with another product, there was a form plugin, there was free templates and paid templates and I used a free time. To build something. And then I realized I had to pay for something else, another feature. So I paid an upgraded and then the free template, like disappear. Like I couldn’t use the free template with the paid version.

And I was like, oh, and I’m sure they would want to do this. This is development. They would want, you know, all the free templates to also be included in the premium. But I was like, I had to switch to like a premium template and like rebuild something I did. And I was like, that’s silly. Like, and it’s because they’re trying so hard to like do those things, but I get it.

It’s hard. Um, Yeah, I guess always think is being honest with the customer. You can have core base values. Um, I, I realized that we’re not timing as well as we usually do. We don’t have the timer ready and we try to stay on topic. I was like, do I need to wrap it up or not? Uh, well, behind the scenes, um, another deceptive tactic is like an over promise, which.

We don’t do, but it’s, um, in subscription products, especially there’s this promise of make money when you sleep and become an overnight millionaire and the ease that some products yeah. Explain how profitable you can be from starting from nothing by using their product. And you’re selling this promise that most people will not get.

Yeah. I’m almost turning around on that one too. Okay. This is kind of like superlative language. Like we’re the best membership plugin. Like we were doing some copy and I was like, yeah, like I, like, I honestly think we’re in the best. Like we should actually say that. That’s like, like I’m being honest. Um, and I don’t like being a little bit okay.

With some of that. Now that’s your purlative language. If it’s just flowery and doesn’t mean anything is going to be an effective anyway. When you really are like, yeah, we’re actually way better than these other plugins at doing X. Just you should, we should lean into it and say it. Um, it’s not an over promise.

It’ll be a millionaire tomorrow. Yeah. It’s an over promise, right? Or like it’s easy or, yeah, we I’ve struggled with, you know, some of the users of our products are like, wantrepreneurs like they, they want a business. Actually do the hard work or like they’re like reading about business and trying, and kind of like cost playing, being a business owner, like setting up a website and putting a price on it.

Um, and it’s like, I always I’m like, that’s not like our real customer. We want people who are serious or really have potential or are doing things. And, and so we try it. I think that lines up with them sometimes, you know, it’s like change your life in a big way. I think. Maybe like the fear of spreading that net and catching all those entrepreneurs who weren’t going to be serious and we might get their money.

And then we feel like, oh, we’re getting their money, but it’s not really helping them. Cause like, I dunno, I think that’s just going to be part of it. Cause I think we’re also missing people who really are excited or they want to start a business because they want to change their life. So that same, it’s weird.

It’s kind of like how like Gary Vaynerchuks kind of message. It’s very. Like often over the top and people will call them out to like, cause he’s publishing every day. So every day it’s like, you know, if your ass and do something and you could do it and people kind of get worn out by it. Um, but cause I’ve met Gary in person a while back, like I’m like, no, he really believes that stuff.

Like he’s not, he’s honest. And he really wants people to feel. You know, stuff, they buy garage sales, it’s a more money to like start themselves on a path to financial independence and related sounds like it’s just like, like a stick and a story to wrap people in and get them to buy his books. But I think he really believes it.

And so, I don’t know. Yeah. Like there’s plenty of how there’s a way to be earnest about, say the same thing, but it’s like your intention, an unpublished blog post in setting in draft. Starting a membership site is hard or this is hard, or this is, we had some technical difficulty, but we’re recording again.

Um, we were talking about deceptive business practices in general, or just using some over the top language and how it feels a little icky. Uh, I was talking about how we have this draft blog post that says this is not easy. This is hard and trying to be upfront with it. So it’s interesting to hear that you have.

Found a way to be encouraging and motivational, to cast a wider net, to catch people that are enthusiastic. And I don’t think we need to say it’s easy. It’s there’s zero work involved. There’s probably a version that’s a little bit, uh, somewhere in between the two, I guess I would say. Yeah. Yeah. I think users want to be motivated and they want to have a cheerleader.

They want you to be their cheerleader. They want you to believe in that. So the more harsh you are with your language, the more straightforward you are with your language, the less of a cheerleader and enthusiastic. Yeah. And I feel like the general tone we’re trying to take now is not, this is really hard, so it doesn’t seem like you’re cut out for it, give up and stop wasting my time.

It goes through my headset. Okay. Yeah. That goes through my mind a lot. Yeah. But I’ve been trying instead to say, Hey, this is really hard, but we can. You know, like it’s gonna take some effort, uh, read these things, watch this video, do this thing, wait for us, you know, we’ll get back to you in a day setting expectations, but like taking the tone of, you know, we’re here to help.

Um, which also means like we’re here to spend a lot of time helping you. So we need to figure out how to like streamline all of our work and get enough people to actually be able to spend that time. But that feels like the path we want to take. I’m excited for it. Yeah, next topic. Sure. I had this idea because we just took a trip and I realized the number of places that you have to update a vacation message and update that year away.

So now there’s a lot of parties, certain party services that we all use and Zapier that does automation, would it be cool if there was a central way to set a autoresponder vacation message and out of the office? That all of your platforms would know about. So it would respond on your Facebook messages to your page.

It would respond to your Twitter, DM. It would respond to your email with a vacation reminder, it would update your slack status. It would update your discord status, all the services you use, it would block your calendar and your Calendly, and it would turn itself off and on, on the schedule that you set, right.

Does that exist? How could that product be built? Is that cool, man, we could have done research. It feels like those things exist, but I still want to talk through it. Huh? I don’t have this problem because I don’t update. I don’t answer my email. I don’t, if vacation responders have auto replies, um, people don’t, I’m never away for more than a week and people don’t usually expect an answer from me with.

Except the people who know I’m on vacation. So yeah, I’m not the target market. It’s hard, but I can think about this. It’s, it’s neat to think. Hey, one place you turn on and it automatically updates all this places. It’s also, it’s usually, yeah, it, I don’t know if all these apps have APIs for setting them, so it might be pretty difficult to, you know, push it out, turn it on and turn it off.

Like, is there a Gmail API end point? I think that’s the secret sauce. Like if it, if. Nobody would use this. Yeah. W so first we have to validate whether there’s an API for Gmail to set a vacation notice. I guess it’s not. Yeah. Google apps. I guess what I was thinking is you, and you could find a way to get around that you kind of program it in a box to click the buttons, but it has to know your Gmail password.

Then, then it’s like, I have to trust a single my Gmail password, just to update my vacation message and everything else. It’s kind of like a lot of control you’re giving this company and I think. I wouldn’t want to start this business. Cause it sounds like it would be a lot of effort to stay in like Gmail updates, certification message.

And now like your system breaks and you’ve got to like scramble to fix it. It’s like the gateway problem we have, but like times however many servers, like, like they get the gateway is built to facilitate payments and subscriptions and they update that and we integrate and then we have to update it.

You know what I mean? Like it’s meant to be used and we still have to spend a lot of time keeping it up. So if there’s like an API that’s like Dell, like we don’t actually have an API for updating vacation messages and we’re people are hacking it to do it. And then that breaks, like, you know, the developers, you know, someone in a room at Calendly is like, what if they’re using the, you know, single vacation message app that hacks its way in, and this is going to break and they’re like, nah, I don’t care.

Like this calendar can post. Is that B R can post two years of Google calendar. Okay. So Zapier could at least create the calendar out of office and Calendly respects that. So that is possible. Yeah.

It would be like a Zapier app linked to assess if someone’s. Wait Calendly. You can set your would say that again. Kelly can set you up. It looks at your Google calendar and only makes availability based on block you off things. Not at the time. So if it blocked off your Google calendar, Calendly blocked as well on vacation, maybe not slack status.

Yeah. It was like a lot of work though. Huh? It would be cool. I, it would be a kind of killer feature for a digital virtual assistant. So there’s different versions of these. Google again, is working on stuff like this, where they did a demo a while ago. I don’t know if it works like on my phone. If I say the magic words, that’ll make my phone stop.

And then say like, book me, you know, dinner at Juliana’s at 6:00 PM. Like it’ll try to call them and book it and do all that stuff. So that kind of virtual assistant, it would be pretty cool to say, Hey, set my reminder away and do it everywhere. Um, It will happen one day, but yeah, it feels like it is. It’s funny, like all their recognition of like voice recognition and figuring out what to do is kind of really difficult, but it kind of a solved problem, but it’s not, it seems to my head, at least not as hard as, you know, integrating with potentially a hundred different API APIs that aren’t really, you know, happy that you’re hacking away to change the reminders or different things on source, but maybe.

All right. Next episode, I’m going, I’ve done a little bit of research and then I will give you a status update on this topic, but yeah. Yeah, maybe there’s maybe there’s something else. Cool. Alright. Until next time. Thank you. All right, bye.