“Buy my book and get a bunch of cool bonuses worth over $4,000!” This was a recent post in a Facebook group I belong to.
I have no idea what the title of the book is, nor whether or not the bonuses have anything to do with the subject matter of the book.
I was somewhat amused by the post and yet, felt a twang of “ain’t it a shame” for the new author who posted this.
Obviously, some “expert” told her that if she got a bunch of people to each contribute a bonus to those who purchased the book, not only would her sales skyrocket, she would also become an Amazon.com bestselling author.
This is a strategy from times gone by. There was a day this strategy worked great. Albeit, short-lived success ensued. It wasn’t the most sustainable marketing and sales strategy unless you had a back-end plan in place.
Actually, I used to teach clients how to effectively use this in their offers, but it’s been years since I’ve done so.
Authors could actually sell hundreds, if not thousands of books in a very short period of time, while watching their book ranking on Amazon rise to the top.
It was the same with product launches. Entice buyers with a boatload of bonuses, regardless of whether or not there was any correlation to the product being sold. People definitely bought the “thing” to get the bonuses.
In the past it often worked like a charm. Today, not so much. Why? Because people are busier today than ever before.
Additionally, we are on information overload. And…today, more than ever, people want a solution fast without having to wade through a bunch of stuff that has no real significance.
To find out what others felt about this, I went to my Facebook community to check the “temperature” on this issue.
Here’s what I posted on my wall… “The days of piling on bonus after bonus to entice someone into buying a book or program are somewhat outdated. What people want today is the fastest route to a solution, not a bunch of stuff they have to wade through to get to the answer. The busier someone is; the less time they want to spend on fluff. Agree or disagree?”
In no time at all, dozens upon dozens of people responded. The overwhelming majority of people agreed that bonuses for the sake of bonuses are not at all appealing.
However, if the bonus, or bonuses, are a compliment to the book or program, the buying decision can be influenced. With this, I’m in total agreement.
Take my program, Speak, Sell, Profit. It’s an eBased course that teaches experts how to find speaking gigs, make an offer to your audience in order to make a substantial profit. Under the umbrella of speaking gigs are teleseminars, webinars and those where you are face to face with your audience.
This program comprises 20 years of my knowledge and experience as a professional speaker. To “sweeten” the offer, anyone who invests in the program gets The Power and Profits of Telesummits. This is a program that specifically teaches the ins and outs of how to make money with telesummits.
In this case, there’s a direct correlation. Speaking is an aspect of telesummits. If I were to “throw in” bonuses on health and fitness, remodeling a house, dog training or any other subject matter that has nothing to do with speaking, I would be making a huge mistake.
Again, it’s not that bonuses don’t work. They definitely do, but in context.
I digress. Back to the responses on my Facebook wall.
”Totally agree – just give me the value so I can get on.” Jenny Brennan
“Totally agree – just tell me what I need to do and how to do it. I’m not a fluff kind of girl, just give it to me straight.” Deborah Hutto Bateman
“AGREE – AND: you never know what that one thing might be that someone wants, so I’d rather see a page with, say, 5 very specific things on it that I can choose the one that I want. Plus, as a marketing tool, it makes more sense to have free gifts from the author more than from a bunch of other seemingly random people who the author is friendly with.” Felicia Slattery.
face“Agree with a caveat — unless the bonus makes the book itself more valuable (i.e., an audiobook or ebook version, workbook or cheat sheets, access to the author through a q&a call, etc.)” Bridget Weide Brooks
“Agree. And seeing quite a few “Selling the farm to attract the sheep” models where content is FREE FREE FREE – well, guess what? – once you get on their membership site or email list, it’s silly to think you won’t be pitched left & right with what they sell.” Elspeth Misiaszek
“Wholeheartedly agree!” Sandra Martini
“I don’t know that I always agree. Although I’d like to think that people would rather buy the solution regardless of the “bonuses”, countless webinars I’ve hosted have proven that “bonuses” still work. Then again — the product I’m selling is software and the bonuses are training. I have tested this many times. Consistently the webinars with bonuses FAR out-convert the ones without bonuses or with one small bonus.” Tim Paige
“Test. Then judge your actions based on what people actually do, not on what they say they will do. Focus groups, for this reason, are mostly a waste of time.” Robert Coatesgeneric_lead_capture
AUTHOR’S NOTE: One thing about you Tim… is this; your bonuses have a direct correlation to the offer your company makes. It’s not a “thrown together” offer. There’s a meaning behind all you do. I’m proof in the pudding that your bonuses work. I invested in and love Lead Pages.  I often recommend Lead Pages to my clients and colleagues.
“Agree, and I’m limiting the number of bonuses I’ll be offering for the April launch of Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World.” Shel Horowitz
“Totally agree. Occasionally there is truly added value, though that rarely is the case. Piling on “bonuses” makes it feel like we are being SOLD something rather than being offered something interesting and/or valuable. It feels like driving sales to benefit the seller rather than offering solutions to the buyer. It downgrades the value of the thing being offered as if the seller doesn’t really have faith in what they are offering and needs to pile on stuff to give the illusion of value. Perhaps the key is to use them judiciously and make certain they truly add value, not fluff. “ Anne Fowler Wade
“I agree and am glad to hear you say it.” Dina Eisenberg
“I think it depends on the market. I feel like less sophisticated business folks still like stuff. In my experience entry level offers (at least to my market) work better with stuff attached.” Mike Linville
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Good point Mike. The more seasoned the buyer the less time we have to wade through “stuff.” Knowing your market and what appeals to them is essential to whatever you are offering.
“Agree! No fluff get to the point is my opinion.” Tina Ortez-Castro
“I certainly agree — I get a headache when I see too many bonuses.” Michele Pariza Wacek.
“Totally agree. I ignore bonus stuff. I really do.” Wendy Fisher
“Totally agree. The bonuses are the quickest way to lose me from a mailing list, because it’s all just fluff. Give me information that I can do something with and I’ll stay forever grin emoticon.” Kimberly Morris Gauthier
“Agree. Too many bonuses (especially with suspect $$$ values) send me running away.” Kat Sturtz
“Kathleen, OMG YES! Screams desperation to me! Makes me wonder about the value of the product or service. I also don’t like the discount after discount after discount – I think it’s okay to discount sometimes, but not to excess. It’s like say “Oh please buy my stuff, please please please!” I think it’s like an icky used car salesman!” Taylor Kay Stephens
“Following this carefully because I know a number of successful online marketers who do this quite well and raise/earn hundreds of thousands of dollars doing it. What are they doing right?” Yvonne DiVita
AUTHOR’S NOTE: The “secret sauce” is that the bonuses have a direct correlation to the offer. Yes, bonuses can, and do, work. But always keep in mind, how do they actually benefit the end user. Do the bring added value? Will they cut the learning time? Have they been thought through? Or did they get thrown in a huge pile of “stuff” just to make it look like they were there to add value?
“Amen Kathleen Gage….been that way for quite a while now for me! Cut to the chase….no slogging thru…” Stevi Sullivan
ellen“Yes…more than one bonus for a product or program is too much! And even that one bonus had better be good.” Ellen Britt.
“I agree! I am coaching authors to consider offering a multimedia bonus…so readers can consume content in a variety of ways…cool and innovative and makes them stand out from the crowd..(that’s what I do!)” Elizabeth Harrington.
“OMG – totally agree! Cut to the chase. Its about efficiency and productivity thru action, not stalling or procrastinating!” Dana Earhart Litif
“Agree. Please don’t overload me with distracting material.” Patricia Buchanan
“I have actually found targeted bonuses — those that solve specific painful problems your prorobspect just can’t seem to solve — to be quite useful in boosting sales. If they solve the problems quickly, I have found them to be very useful.” Rob Schultz
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Spot on Rob. Targeted bonuses are the answer.
“I’m so tired of bonuses on everything under the sun. In 2016 all bonuses should be edible instead. Give me free snacks and coffee to enjoy while I read the new book or program, that’s a bonus! tongue emoticon.” Loretta Oliver
“The bonuses are used to help the prospect justify the purchase to his/herself. It breaks down sales resistance. The reason you see promotions like that all the time is they work. All of the largest marketers use bonuses.” Robert Coates.
AUTHORS NOTE: You are right Robert. And… the more specific the bonuses are to the purchase, the better.
“I somewhat agree. Gone are the days of piling on a bunch of unrelated bonuses in order to sell your own or someone else’s product. I still see some marketer using crappy PLR materials as bonuses, hoping that by giving away a bunch of “stuff”, they will get people to buy from them.
On the other hand, as several people already mentioned, targeted bonuses that are relevant to the product you are selling still seems to work.
The bottom line is that online marketing has gotten much more sophisticated. I think we will be hearing a lot more about EBM (Education Based Marketing) this year. There’s already been a shift away from using eBooks as lead magnets to using short, consumable, useful items. What many of the big marketers are doing now is providing a short bit of free education as the lead magnet, then as they take you through the sales funnel, all the offers are related to the thing you just opted in for instead of just being a mis-mash of random upsells.” Ellen Martin
“People never even came back for the bonuses. That era is over.” Harlan Kilstein
brian“Indeed, however when it comes time to buy something, people shop.” Brian G. Johnson
“Totally agree. A bunch of bonuses just makes me think, “Yuck!”” Denise M. Michaels
“OMG tried to tell this to a well-known coach on her recent launch, that you know very well too. The more stuff that got added on the more I shrunk away. It was just too much to digest. Solve one problem, quickly, then move on to something else. So glad you posted this.” Pam Stogsdill McCall
“Totally agree! I spent time this morning cleaning my hard drive deleting free downloads of complete programs I never opened.” Kathie Nelson
“Completely agree! Though it always sounds great when it’s offered, I never get to it. So the guilt piles up because I’m not reading it.” Randi Destefano
“Totally agree. Preach it, sister.” Debra Mars
“Related bonuses work well and encourage sales in my opinion.” Roz Fruchtman
“People will pay more for less if it takes them exactly where they want to go in the shortest amount of time. Everything else feels too overwhelming. The business owner or consumer with money to invest is likeliest to have healthy boundaries around their time. Respecting that time in a product reaps the greatest rewards.” Theresa Pridemore
There were plenty more comments on the thread, but you certainly get a sense of how people feel about bonus offers that have no rhyme or reason.
Truth be told, I recently purchased a program where one of the bonuses influenced my buying decision. Yet, the bonus was directly, and I do mean directly, related to the main offer.
Would I have bought the “thing” regardless of the bonus? Yes, I definitely would have. What was interesting about the situation though was this, the bonus was offered by an affiliate. Actually, during the product launch, there were several affiliates promoting it.

  • One affiliate offered nothing.
  • Another affiliate offered a non-related, low end bonus.
  • The affiliate I purchased through offered a juicy, well thought through bonus with a real value of $1,000. How do I know the real value? I did my research.

Which brings me to another point. When you offer a bonus, avoid an inflated “street value.” This is another thing that can really tick off a potential buyer.
Key takeaways:

  • Offers with bonuses may or may not work. The bonuses that work are those that have real added value to the main offer.
  • Avoid throwing a bunch of “crap” into the mix. This is an insult to intelligent customers.
  • Most people are over-the-top frustrated with bonuses they have no interest in or need for.
  • People want real solutions, not stuff that clogs up the computer, their mind, and their productivity.

Before you jump on the “give ’em a boatload of bonuses” bandwagon, consider how people will respond to what you’re offering. If it’s added value, true added value, then go for it. If not, don’t. It’s really that simple.
What’s your take on the topic? Agree or disagree? Comments encouraged and welcomed.
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