Common sense marketing

There seem to be two schools of thought in the Internet marketing world.

The first I call the “rape and pillage” school. These folks don’t know their customers and they don’t want to know their customers. They just want to get people to their site, convert them, and get their money.

False advertising, forced continuity, less-than-zero customer service…anything and everything goes. It’s all OK to these folks.

Then there are people who want to build businesses that provide real products to real people. They want a business that will last more than a few months. They want customers who come back again and again and tell others. They focus on the long term work of creating an asset as opposed to a temporary income spike.

Unfortunately, the “rape and pillage” mentality dominates what passes (laughably) as Internet marketing education these days. It’s too bad because the naive folks who try to emulate so many of today’s Internet marketing “success stories” are being set up for failure on two counts:

1. The “rape and pillage” crowd NEVER tell the full story of how they really made their money (assuming they made as much money as they claim.) They always leave important parts out because if they told the WHOLE story, no one in their right minds would want to model them.

2. The “rape and pillage” method while it might work for the short term – and “might” is the operative word – is almost guaranteed to end in failure, personal and financial.

Here’s a newsflash from a recent study published by the DM News: the online businesses that provide the best service (Netflix. Amazon, QVC) also enjoy: 1) more repeat purchases and 2) more free word-of-mouth advertising.

It’s just common sense, isn’t it?

But when you read (and now watch) the latest Internet “sure-fire” money-making scheme, this kind of common sense is always absent from the story.

– Ken McCarthy

P.S. For over 25 years I’ve been sharing the simple but powerful things that matter in business with my clients.

If you’d like direction for your business that will work today, tomorrow and twenty years from now, visit us at the System Club.

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4 Responses to Common sense marketing

  1. Dan Kubb June 18, 2007 at 3:54 am #

    Ken, would you care to elaborate on the problems you see with forced continuity? (recurring charges until the client tells you to stop)

    For ongoing services where the seller can’t provide lifetime memberships (like where there are ongoing costs for support and maintenance for the seller) is there a reasonable alternative?

    For example when I join a membership site with a monthly fee, I expect that fee to be charged automatically, on whatever schedule I agreed to. I would not want to have to take action to maintain membership: charge my card until I tell you to stop.

    I find recurring billing to be more of a convenience for myself, since it frees me from having to take action to continue receiving the service. Its also more convenient for the seller too since they don’t have to deal with collections, except when payment is declined, which is usually the exception not the rule. All around its better for everyone.

  2. Ken McCarthy June 24, 2007 at 3:14 pm #

    That’s simple Dan.

    Here’s the problem:

    When consumers are scammed into signing up for these programs and either aren’t aware of what their action is obligating them to or don’t understand the terms of the deal because it’s been presented in a confusing matter.

    That’s what I object to.

    Yes, you can make a ton of money doing the above. You can also make a ton of money seling crack. I recommend people find an honest line of work.

    Continuity programs are not the problem. Even forced continuity is not the problem.

    Playing games with a customer’s trust is a VERY BIG problem. I don’t think you have to look to hard to find violations of the Golden Rule on this one.

  3. Katie Cummings June 26, 2007 at 10:21 pm #

    I hate the recurring thing. You end up getting crap and even after you call and cancel, you get charged two months later. I think this sends a bad message to your customers. It seems to say you don’t trust them. If you don’t trust them, they won’t trust you because trust is a two way street, right?

  4. Dan Kubb June 28, 2007 at 1:53 am #

    Ahh Ken, I understand what you mean now, and I agree with you completely.

    Tricking someone into paying on a recurring schedule is no better than not making shipping fees or taxes crystal clear — something that I think is probably even more common.

    Also the point Katie brings up is very valid too. A large majority of people selling things online that use recurring billing aren’t doing so responsibly. They use systems that aren’t reliable, don’t follow-up on declined/expired credit cards (and make it worse by trying to “catch-up” on the missed charge by doubling up the next month) or they don’t immediately cancel recurring charges when notified.

    Anytime you don’t deliver exactly as promised you risk damaging the customer’s trust in you.

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