📊 ClassNotes 009: What is scam-proof pricing?

📊 ClassNotes 009: What is scam-proof pricing?
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Can you spot a scam by its price?

That's the question I had that led me to create the chart below.

By the end of this newsletter, not only will you recognize the “scam zone,” but you’ll also have the data you need to price your offers to sell.

pie chart for online course prices
These results are based on a study of approximately one hundred filtered search results on Google. Designed by Ilya

While writing the ‘How to Spot a Scam’ portion of the report Value By Design, I kept bumping into the same bad actors using the same sketchy methods to hurt customers — one of which was pricing.

Value by Design: A positioning framework for course creators
Online education is about to get a whole new look.

I decided to see if I could find pricing patterns among scammers.

One method I used to find this data was the wildcard (*) search operator in Google. This allowed me to conduct broad searches related to the keywords “course” and “scam.” I collected and sorted the top 100 most relevant results and began my analysis.

This method is imperfect because there are so many factors that go into a page ranking on Google. But overall, I think the data does a great job of answering our question.


All things being equal, how likely will your price lead someone to Google "is [blank] course a scam?"

  • Courses priced in the $500 - $999 range were the most likely to raise suspicion among potential customers.
  • $997 was the median and most frequently seen price point in the search results.
  • The average was a bit higher at $1,297.
  • Courses priced below $100 raised almost no red flags with consumers.
  • Courses priced above $2,000 had the next fewest results. However, there are fewer online courses at this level, which is a factor worth considering.
  • The $100 - $499 and $1,000 - $1,999 price points had nearly identical results, meaning people consider courses in these price ranges to be 30% safer or less suspicious than ones in the $500 - $999 range.

Practical Applications

It's important we begin by clarifying that just because you price your course at $997 or in a suspicious range does not mean your course is a scam. It only means that people will be more wary about purchasing it.

If you're a newer creator or have yet to find your traction, go for the easy wins. Get sales for a product priced below $100 to build credibility and cash flow. Then, graduate to the next tier and sell something for under $499.

Causing less suspicion indirectly means generating more trust. And ultimately, trust is the only currency that matters in business.

For established creators with larger audiences, don’t be afraid to go above the $1k mark for your offers. Test the $1,000 - $1999 price range with your audience, and even the $2,000+ one, depending on your niche.

Price is one of the few elements that is 100% within your control. Use this to your advantage and create something people love buying.

1. Pricing influences how people feel about your product.
2. Pricing low can help you build early trust, while pricing high can help you maintain it.

Next week, we'll investigate which digital products are most popular — and how this info can help you reach your income goals in record time.

— David

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