Steven Dux Marketing Psychology: How to Sell A $7500 Course
Online gurus generate millions in revenue every year by creating highly persuasive marketing campaigns.
These gurus have a deep understanding of human psychology and know how to motivate buyers to purchase their courses.
Steven Dux is a day trading guru who sells a $7500 course called the Freedom Challenge. After seeing Steven gain a lot of attention in the day trading education space, I decided to review his marketing campaigns to see what makes them so persuasive.
His sales page and other marketing materials are very compelling and you can learn a lot from the persuasion techniques he uses. If you’re considering purchasing The Freedom Challenge, I recommend reading this post before buying.
In this post, I’m going to reveal…
- Why The Freedom Challenge doesn’t have a buy button
- How sellers can gain the power over buyers
- A psychological bias that Dux uses to his advantage
- An effective technique for changing people’s beliefs
Who Is Steven Dux?
Steven Dux is a Chinese born trading educator, now living in the US. Steven moved from China to the US when he was 14 to study.
He claims to have turned $27,000 into over $5 million through day trading penny stocks. And he is one of the top-rated traders on Profit.ly, a trading platform created by Timothy Sykes. Steven now teaches others how to make money through day trading, with his Freedom Challenge program.
As of April 2021, Steven has over 226k subscribers on his YouTube channel, 83.8k followers on his Instagram account and his Twitter page has 52.6k followers.
Is Steven Dux legit? I haven’t personally taken any of his programs, so it’s difficult for me to say. If you search Steven on Reddit, you will find mixed reviews, some negative and others positive. Some Reddit users give him a lot of credit, while others say he’s a charlatan.
Steven’s net worth is estimated to be between $1 million – $5 million.
Why Doesn’t Steven Let You Buy?
You’ll notice on Steven’s sales page for the Freedom Challenge, there is no buy button.
In other articles, I talk about how other marketers use scarcity and urgency to push buyers into making a fast purchase.
The purpose is to capitalize while the prospect is in a buying state. After the prospect leaves the sales page, webinar or presentation, the chances of them buying drop significantly.
So why does Steven take a different approach?
Instead of a ‘buy now’ button, Steven has a ‘apply now’ button on his sales page.
Even after clicking the Apply Now button and submitting my details, I still wasn’t given the opportunity to buy.
Instead, I received an email informing me my application was being considered and that I would receive a 3 part video series over the following 2-3 days.
The following day I received another email from Steven, offering me the opportunity to pre-purchase a spot in the challenge. Even though my application hadn’t been approved yet.
I believe there are a few reasons, why Steven’s approach could be effective…
Increases Sense of Exclusivity
By not instantly accepting every student who wants to join, Steven is able to create a sense of exclusivity.
This is important because people automatically perceive exclusive products as higher value.
If people believe that this is truly an exclusive opportunity, they will feel special if they are accepted into the program.
The American Express sales letter below is considered to be one of the best sales letters of all time. It was credited for over $1 billion in sales during the time it ran.
The reason this sales letter was so successful is the sense of exclusivity the writer created. The writer made the reader feel special by inviting them to join this exclusive club.
We Value Things We Have Earned
People have a natural tendency to take for granted things they get easily.
But you will place higher value on something that you feel you’ve earned. This applies in business, dating and relationships.
Towards the end of his email sequence, Steven sends out this message to subscribers interested in the Freedom Challenge…
Steven informed me that I had qualified for the Freedom Challenge and reinforced that not everyone makes it this far.
The purpose of this is to make prospects feel like they have earned the opportunity to join the Freedom Challenge. If they feel as if they have earned the opportunity, they will value it more than if the opportunity were just handed to them.
Flipping The Script
In his book Pitch Anything, Oren Klaff talks about the importance of ‘prizing.’
Prizing puts the seller in control of the sale. In most sales, the seller is trying to win the prospect’s respect, attention and money. This puts the buyer in a position of power.
Making the buyer earn the opportunity to do business with you is a form of prizing. It flips the script. Now it’s the buyer who is fighting to earn the respect of the seller.
You can compare this to colleges and universities. While a university is the seller, they are viewed as the prize. This is particularly true for prestigious universities like Harvard and Stanford.
Harvard University has an admission rate of just 5.2%, with only 2009 out of the 43,000 applicants accepted into the class of 2023.
Students are happy to pay thousands in tuition fee every year because admission into Harvard is the prize.
Word of Caution & A Challenge to Steven Dux
Personally, I think this tactic of creating an application process can actually backfire if it’s executed poorly.
If the prospect realizes this it’s not a genuine application process and everyone gets accepted, they can easily feel like they have been manipulated.
I once attended an interview (well, a sales pitch disguised as an interview) to join a fitness coaching course. The purpose of the ‘interview’ was to see if I was a good fit for the course. At least that’s what they told me..
During this interview, I was asked a series of questions and then the man interviewing me left to discuss my application with his manager.
Predictably, he returned a few minutes later and congratulated me on being accepted.
I doubt he even spoke to a manager.
Obviously, the purpose of this was to create a sense of exclusivity, make me feel special and privileged to be offered the opportunity.
But because it was so clear that this was nothing more than a sales tactic, it had the reverse effect. Instead of feeling special, I felt manipulated and didn’t end up registering for the course.
If you’re going to make people apply to work with you, make it a genuine application. Maintain high standards and filter out those who aren’t a good fit.
Steven, if you’re reading this… why not implement a real application process for your program?
Give people screening questions as part of the application process and only accept those who you genuinely believe can succeed with your program.
Firstly, this would truly demonstrate you are more ethical than other gurus who will take money from any vulnerable person, no matter how unlikely they are to succeed. But it would also give the course a genuine sense of exclusivity.
Commitment & Consistency
There is one more reason why Steven doesn’t let you buy straight away…
His course is really expensive.
A spot in The Freedom Challenge is going to cost you $7500 USD. And that’s just for one year!
At such a high price, Steven’s conversions are going to be very low if he were to advertise this price on his sales page. To get prospects to a point where they’re willing to pay $7500, he needs to get them more invested first.
By having prospects enter their email to apply for the Freedom Challenge, it gives Steven the chance to get them more invested before revealing the price.
In his email sequence, Steven asks that students complete a 3 part video series, to be accepted into the Freedom Challenge…
With each video, he’s able to get prospects more invested into the program.
In his classic book Influence, Robert Cialdini talks about commitment and consistency bias. This basically says that people have a desire to act in a way that is consistent with their prior actions.
Each time the prospect opens one of Steven’s emails and watches one of his videos, they are making a further commitment to the Freedom Challenge.
When Steven finally invites them to join the Freedom Challenge, it would be inconsistent for them to not register when they have already made such a commitment.
Framing: How To Change People’s Beliefs
Framing is a method that can be used to change people’s beliefs.
This is done by altering people’s interpretation of an event or situation. It’s commonly used by politicians and PR companies.
In politics, you’ve probably heard the term ‘spin doctor.’ A spin doctor is simply someone who uses the framing technique to make people look at something differently.
Dux uses the framing technique to his advantage to sell his Freedom Challenge.
He knows that for someone to buy the Freedom Challenge, they need to believe day trading is a safe and effective way of making money. But most people are aware that day-trading is risky. Over 90% of day traders lose money.
Many people have heard that the best investing strategy is to buy and hold. So in order to sell to these people, Steven needs to shift their perspective on day trading.
In the screenshot above from this article on his blog, you can see he’s setting up the framing technique.
He’s getting the reader to begin questioning whether ‘buy and hold’ is the best strategy for them.
Then in the screenshot below, you can see how he starts shifting the perspective. He gets the reader to look at buy and hold investing as something that only works if you have at least $100,000.
Firstly, he breaks down an existing belief (that buy and hold is the best form of investing) by exposing the flaws behind this belief system.
Then he presents penny stock day trading as a more profitable alternative. He positions this alternative in a way that will appeal to his target audience.
By the end of the sales page, Steven has shifted the perception of buy and hold investing. The reader goes from viewing long term buy and hold investing and safe and effective. To viewing it as something that only works for wealthy investors.
In another article, I talk about how network marketing company, InCruises, uses the framing technique to draw people into their MLM.
How Steven Differentiates Himself
There’s no shortage of people teaching day trading online.
And many of them have developed a bad reputation. So how does Steven differentiate himself from all his competitors in the market?
To do so, he uses a concept I call “the one.” The purpose of “the one” is to make your audience believe you are the one who can solve all their problems and are superior to all other alternatives.
In another post, I talk about how ClickFunnels founder Russell Brunson uses The One technique in his $3.2 million presentation. I also explain the psychological reasons why The One technique is so persuasive.
As you can see from the examples below, Steven uses The One technique to his advantage. He does so by shedding light on the risks related to the industry such as lack of transparency and lack of trust.
Then he discredits the other “experts” teaching penny stock day trading and describes them as scammers and fake gurus.
Steven advises his audience to make sure they research who they are learning from before subscribing to any course.
He also qualifies himself as an honest educator who has good intentions and wants people to succeed in the market. That’s why he is willing to provide his students with exactly what they need at the right moment.
The words and phrases above are designed to give the reader the impression that this is the one. It communicates to the reader that Steven is different from all those other guys out there.
Of course, there is no guarantee that Steven really is any better than other day trading coaches. He may or may not be.
But simply creating the perception that he is superior to other day trading coaches makes his sales page extremely persuasive.
You can view the sales page for Steven’s Freedom Challenge here. It’s worthwhile looking at the page to see exactly how Steven applies the techniques I have discussed in this post.
The tactics I’ve identified in this post can be used to make your marketing much more persuasive.
If you’re in sales or marketing, knowing how to use the framing technique and differentiate yourself from competitors can have a huge impact.
Although I haven’t discussed it in this post, Steven also uses storytelling very effectively in his marketing materials. I discuss the power of storytelling in several other posts, including Diabetes Freedom and Leptitox.
Should you join Steven’s course? Personally, I think $7500 is far too much for a course like this. Short term trading is a very high-risk way to make money and you’re already down $7500 if you join the Freedom Challenge.
For those wanting to start earning a passive income online, check out this article. You’ll learn 12 ways to make money online that are much lower risk than penny stock trading.
If you want to learn how other ‘gurus’ persuade customers to spend thousands on their courses and programs, take a look at some of my other reviews below. I reveal the exact marketing psychology strategies used by these gurus to sell millions. If you’re interested in other penny stock gurus, I wrote an entire post analysing Timothy Sykes marketing strategy.
Have a question? Connect with me on LinkedIn.
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Dux copied the whole course structure from Tim Sykes(chatroom, alerts, DVD and challenge), who started this type of challenge service, so it is really Sykes who’s the marketing guru.
I was considering buying his freedom challenge package a few years back until I ran into a similar scheme, here is how mine went:
After I hit the apply button, there was an automatic email sent to me that said something along the line of “Sorry John, the Freedom Challenge membership is full right now, but you have been placed on the wait list, if any spot opens up in the future we will notify you”, and two days later I got another email from them that said something like “Congratulations, another spot just opened up and someone on the wait list backed out, so you are next in line, buy now to reserve your spot blah blah”, and if I remember it right, the ‘buy now’ link even gave me a small discount off the original price.
Anyone would have jumped on the chance after reading such statements, right? But I’ve never been a lucky guy in my life so this sudden change of luck left me wondering – is this thing legit? So I created another email account and applied for the freedom challenge membership again, I got the same “we are full right now” automatic email (but I thought a spot just opened up?), so I waited for two days, surprise surprise, the exact same email that claimed a spot opened up and someone backed out was sent to my other email urging me to buy the package with a discount.
His technique maybe legit, but this kind of marketing scheme seemed way too shady to me, and after reading your article I see that after a few years he is still using similar strategy to prey on people’s FOMO psychology to buy his package – we’re your potential customers, not your rivals in the market that you are out to take money from, and that is why I never bought any of his stuff, simply disrespectful to his would-be students.