The latest “automated” trend to take over the online course world.
I recently visited THREE different course sales pages by people I truly admire and was interested in learning from when, BOOM! A bar jumped up right at the top of the sales page, saying, “Hey! I noticed you’re from India. Please take 70% off my course fee.”
This gesture, while seeming generous and even fair, quite frankly reminded me of Julia Roberts’ Rodeo Drive experience in Pretty Woman.
Mayank and I discussed this and agreed that both of us felt downright insulted. Just because we’re from India, course creators assumed we couldn’t afford to pay the $197 or $997-course fee.
Automated parity pricing is almost like profiling with a supposedly pure motive.
Now I don’t want this to be a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” kinda thing.
I can see how course creators are trying to do right by pricing according to location.
But it’s a misguided attempt to create some sort of equality.
India or any other Asian country, for that matter, has a diverse population with diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Like the US, I’m sure.
To give you an idea, a 3-bedroom rental in the condominium we stay at is anywhere from $1200-$1800. Yep.
My biz partner, husband, and resident gearhead, Mayank reminded me that this was similar to what luxury carmakers thought when they dismissed India as not the right market for them.
Only to be amazed at the response when they did launch.
And even now, despite the year that was 2020, luxury carmakers, like Lamborghini reported a 100% increase in sales.
Not just that, when you price using automated parity, how are you being fair to folks who are making minimum wage but still want to take your program and live in say, Europe or Australia or even, America?
Isn’t that being unfair to those who actually deserve support while offering unasked-for-discounts based on what… our IP addresses?
[The more I mull over this the more I feel that the automated Parity Pricing bar is yet another way to show bias against Asians. I’m not speaking for other countries because I saw what I saw. Because I was in India.]
So what can YOU, as a course creator, do to create inclusiveness? How can you do it without making assumptions about the financial status of your prospective clients and students?
Automated Parity Pricing Alternatives: How do you create a truly inclusive eCoursesystem for your program?
True parity is not unasked-for-charity.
True parity is respectful and does not make assumptions.
It starts by considering what would make it REALLY easy for your perfect-fit prospects to enroll and respect their socio-economic conditions instead of shoving a discount in front of prospects who may not even need it.
1. Interest-free payment plans: Want to make it easier for people to enroll? Don’t penalize them for paying over a period of time.
We’ve been offering interest-free payment plans for both programs and services ever since we started our business and it’s always SO well-received by our clients.
2. Be flexible about discussing a longer payment plan: Another respectful way to make your program inclusive to everyone at different income levels is to be open to discussing a longer payment plan.
This could be done on a case-by-case basis, and no, it cannot be automated by popping up a sticky bar on your site. But, like us, if you believe in keeping the human element alive in your business, you should try it out.
Pretty much ALL our programs, INCLUDING Momentum Mise-en-Place, have had 1-2 clients who’ve needed a longer payment plan.
And guess what? They’re all from North America or UK. Just proves my point that country of residence doesn’t determine someone’s preference (or need) to pay over time.
3. Offer need-based or merit-based scholarships: Consider earmarking a budget or a certain number of seats that are awarded to clients who really need it. There are SO many ways to do this.
Alexandra Franzen, for instance, recently opened enrollment to her email newsletter writing course and offered a “pay nothing now, pay what you can later” scholarship. In fact, her business gives out 100 scholarships every year. That’s INCREDIBLE.
And what makes me cheer even louder is this, “In the spirit of equity, we give first priority to people of color, queer and non-binary folks, differently-abled folks, and other people who struggle due to unfair systems in our society.”
Please note, it says…”SOCIETY” – not a specific country. 🙌🏻
Now, while these THREE strategies are alternatives to slapping on a sticky bar and offering a discount based on IP address and calling it parity pricing…
Here are THREE additional strategies to create more inclusiveness in your courses for participants from countries, other than North America.
Because making it financially accessible is one thing, creating true accessibility is a whole other thing. And one that most course creators sadly overlook entirely.
1.Call timings staggered to accommodate different time zones: This is such a big one. Every single course (but one) and mastermind that Mayank and I have ever enrolled in has had call timings that were either at midnight or past midnight for us. 🤷🏻♀️
I understand logistics can be challenging and the process of setting personal boundaries might include scheduling calls at a particular time every week or month.
BUT with a bit of intentionality, there are ways to have calls at different times and still have that predictability for your own personal schedule.
We do that with Ready-to-Sell. Call timings are 9 AM Eastern and 8:30 PM Eastern to allow everyone to attend at least one of the two calls in a month.
Not just that, recently, we enrolled in Ryan Schwartz and Phil Powis’ pathbreaking program – Automated Intimacy, and it made SUCH a huge impression on us when we got the call schedule.
There were calls we could attend EVERY week because they were scheduled at 6:30 PM our time. Ry is in Montreal. Phil is in Florida. So yeah, it can be done.
2. Welcome gifts sent to everyone regardless of locations: Similar to call timings, welcome gifts are usually reserved only for those in North America.
More often than not, we’ve had mastermind hosts and course creators tell us that they shipped us something that we never receive because international shipping is a complicated, untrackable mess.
An easy alternative is to use local vendors. That’s the workaround we use.
We send gift boxes to clients in the UK, Europe, Australia, North America from vendors in those countries instead of trying to ship them from India.
3. Closed captions, audio downloads, and/or transcripts to accommodate different learning styles and abilities: Simple enough to do and makes a world of difference.
Let’s wrap this up with…
A nod to the fact that thinking about inclusiveness is great.
And at the end of the day, it is truly admirable to see course creators take intentional steps towards being more inclusive.
Because, yes… Inclusiveness, equality, and accessibility are definitely needed in the world of online courses and marketing.
But what would make this process truly empowering is approaching these core values with intentionality and purpose instead of assumptions and blind automation.
Like every value, inclusiveness is not a trend or a buzzword. This is not yet another marketing gimmick.
Being inclusive goes beyond automated parity pricing.
Treat your audience as humans.
Not I.P addresses.