Scams Snake Oil And Angels

The recent publication of Sylvie Fortin’s Internet Marketing Sins 2 has led to a lot of people taking stock of how they do business online. To be honest I have been waiting for a response and the recent Pansy Report by Matt Bacak is as close as I have seen so far.

I received an email this morning from Frank Kern with the subject line “an open letter to the idiots”. The content was, as is usual from Frank, very concise and read:

This needed to be said:
I support it 100%.

Basically the link goes to Matt Bacak’s Pansey Report and the sales page is about his right to sell and make money using whatever methods he feels is appropriate and regards himself as a 100% ethical marketer. Ethics are of course very subjective and what one feels is justified another may have issues with – that’s life.

This is not a “Knock Matt and Frank” post by the way. I have never sunk beers with them and I don’t have any of Matt Bacak’s products so I have no business commenting on those aspects. After Googling Matt, it is apparent he has been around a fair time and knows how to make money.

What does come across from the Pansy Report sales page though is the obvious strong belief that Matt is 100% right and needs to justify himself and his business practices by mentioning the huge $30K+ donation he made to charity, (with a clickable link for proof), the $250,000 tax bill and his happy and rich employees and affiliates.

It looks as if the charity donation was planned into $1 product launch[es] with Matt matching every dollar.

His Pansy Report attack on the “lilly-livered Forum Fearmongers”, “their whiny, bitchy posts on the forums (or on their tiny, pathetic little blogs)”, demonstrates just how strongly he feels about people who he considers haven’t “got it”.

Here’s a couple of extracts from his Pansy Report but remember to read his page in full so as not to have a biased viewpoint.

“Just sitting back and being all nice and “Web 2.0”-ish and hoping the money will just “show up” if we watch “The Secret” enough times ain’t gonna cut it.”

“This is the marketing business — not the marketing playground. It ain’t all ducks & bunnies.”

Well, I have to agree with him here, it’s a business after all, but people have a right to run their business the way they want and a whole lot of people don’t pay $250,000 in taxes and earn a lot less than Matt but, if that’s what they want to do and not use the upsells, downsells, continuity, scarcity ploys because that’s how they feel comfortable making their mere 100K per year, then that really is up to them.

They will never be invited to hook up with the ‘good ol’ boys’ and it just won’t worry them because, believe it or not, there are people who could think of nothing worse than “networking”, back slapping and listening to all the “How Great Am I” stories. It doesn’t make them losers.

Another quote from Matt:

“Follow me on this and see if you agree…
The people who bitch about marketing tactics are not marketers — at least not successful ones. And what’s worse, they don’t want you to succeed either.”

Well you’re not wholly right Matt. I don’t think that Sylvie and Mike Fortin can be accused of “not” being marketers and they have highlighted several issues with the marketing strategies mentioned in the Pansy Report.

We all need to make judgment calls on how to run our business and for sure it is frustrating to read whining posts in forums from people who obviously have nothing better to do than knock other people and complain about how badly they have been treated in life. The anonymity of the Internet makes lions out of every one!

The thing to remember about IM forums in particular is that, for the main part, they are frequented by people who don’t know very much at all but feel the urge to give advice on matters they don’t understand. There is one very popular forum where one of the moderators just doesn’t understand there is a difference between Adsense and Adwords and she is giving out “advice” on a daily basis.

I really can’t find anything which suggests Matt B to be a scam artist. Of course there are a few disgruntled customers but this happens in any business as you can’t please everyone all the time.

The complaints I have found against Matt are about his use of forced continuity where he didn’t make it clear that there was going to be a recurring monthly payment of $29.95 with his $1 offer. This a complaint, together with a ridiculous amount of upsells, that is manifesting itself time and time again.

Mike Filsaime, Stompernet and more recently Joel Comm have all gone the “pay only for shipping” route with the continuity payments not being made crystal clear and many people are very angry over it. Whether they are right or wrong and didn’t read the sales page properly is not really their fault. The reason for me saying this is that Stomper makes a huge thing about eye tracking and they say their free Site Seer software tells people exactly how their website is being viewed by visitors.

So perhaps it’s reasonable to expect professional marketers to make sure their customers can see and understand the relevant information. They are, after all, the professionals who are teaching people this stuff.

Whatever the rights and wrongs we have to accept one undeniable fact and that is that continuity payments that are not explained with 100% clarity are a cause of major discontent. Even the word “continuity” is starting to have “evil” associated with it.

From reading blogs, forum posts and comments, it does appear that the perception is that some of the major players in the IM niche consider themselves untouchable and are free to do pretty much as they please and treat their customers anyway they want. Even taking away a percentage of the normal complainers, that still leaves a heck of a lot of serious folk with serious views making serious comments.

Which brings up the question of responsibility. A final quote from the Pansy Report:

“‘Don’t use ‘forced continuity’ on me!'(One of the most ridiculous complaints of all… there is NO SUCH THING as ‘forced continuity’ because you can always choose NOT TO BUY!)”

It’s really difficult to argue with this factually because it is always our choice to do whatever we want. Nobody is forcing anything down our throat – or is this viewpoint a bit simplistic?

Top marketers ALWAYS use the buy on emotion not logic principle. Their entire sales letter is devoted to making you buy right now and the subliminal message is that unless you have this product today you are pretty much worthless and are going to fail.

So, is this great marketing or simply preying on the weak and uninformed? I don’t want to come across as someone with “whiny, bitchy posts on the forums (or on their tiny, pathetic little blogs)” as Matt has written, but it’s a point worth considering.

If you walk into Walmart or any other physical shop do you walk away with anything that you are confused about having paid for? If they are offering a recipe book for a dollar and there is a continuity program to buy every other book in the series with a monthly payment, you don’t walk out of the shop not knowing what has just gone down. In fact it wouldn’t be allowed to happen. You know upfront the terms of the deal and make your decision.

Upsells, as we all should know, are just part of everyday life from McD’s Apple Turnovers to a cars Connely Leather seats.

The fact is that no matter how much these marketers defend themselves there must be an issue or there wouldn’t be such an uproar. Exactly when is the line of “marketing gamesmanship” crossed?

The question is, should consumers just wise up and stop bitching or should the top marketers have a closer look at their ethics towards their customers?


PS Personally I love all the “How Great Am I” stories because it gives me a great excuse to get out of the house on a “business trip” and sink a few beers more than I probably should πŸ˜‰

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Most Commented Posts