Free Programs and Fine Print

February 11, 2011 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Monetizing Business Ideas

Yep! It happened again today. I was invited by a Skype friend to look into a free program. Their claim was that it was free to join and I would not have to pay anything to earn money. I’ve been around the internet long enough to not believe claims of overnight wealth and to distrust “free” joins but I indulged their request to click on the link anyway.

Non-English Landing Page

The first thing that I noticed was that the page was in German. I have a toolbar installed that allows me to instantly translate to English so this wasn’t a huge issue.

Analyzing the Offer

The first sentence on the landing page was a disclaimer:

This is no joke and no dream … You get paid money, because investors want to distribute funds.

If you have to begin by telling stressing the fact that your incredible program is really incredible and go on to suggest that investors want to give away their money, I’m immediately suspicious. Investors want to leverage their money by investing in things which will earn them money. At least that is what I’ve learned…

The landing page encouraged me to read the terms and conditions, although I would have done that anyway before filling in any forms. It’s called due diligence. 🙂

Free Isn’t Always Free

free-programs-and-fine-print-postThe second paragraph on the Terms and Conditions page said this:

Once you receive the gift, you have to pay into this program.

I didn’t need to read any further. Clearly, if payment is required to benefit from the program, it isn’t free.

I responded to my Skype pal by copying and pasting that text into our chat window. I added that I was a conscientious objector of cash gifting programs and that having to pay into it made it clear to mea that it wasn’t free. I thought that would be the end of it but they replied that I had misunderstood.

I re-copied and pasted the same text into our chat window and told them, in addition, that there was nothing ambiguous about the phrase: YOU have to pay into this program.

Denial of the Facts in Front of You

My Skype pal protested by saying that “no one had explained this” to them. I suggested that reading the fine print before joining anything, free or not, is a personal responsibility … and it is!

Are you entitled to a do-over if you sign a contract that binds you to a commitment you didn’t understand just because you expected it to be explained to you? If you are of legal age, the answer to that question is no.

I’ve worked in a business where contracts were necessary to proceed. I would spend no less than an hour going over the terms and conditions that my clients would be obligated to once they put pen to paper. I took pains to explain what their obligations were, as well as the authority they were granting to me as their agent. I never put paperwork in front of someone who might later claim diminished capacity because they had had a few drinks. I scheduled the meeting for another time and instructed them to hold off on the beers until after we were finished.

Not everyone will do this … especially if they are promoting a get-rich-quick-and-easy internet program.

Money for Nothing?

Call me old fashioned or jaded, but I’m not of the mindset that money will flow into your bank accounts without applying some effort.

When I was new to online marketing tactics, I got suckered into things. We all do. Once I abandoned the belief that the hype was more than it was and began to focus on things that I enjoyed doing anyway, which could earn income for me, my life has been simplified and I’m having a lot more fun too.

Many of the people whom I used to communicate with on a daily basis are still chasing the dream of instant wealth and fly-by-night programs. For them, and for those of you who pursue similar things, I wish you the best of luck and encourage you to return and post your results to my blog.

There are no Magic Wealth Pills. The recipe for business success is the same:

  1. List the things that you are interested in doing
  2. Analyze those things to determine if their might be a market for you to leverage
  3. Construct a plan for pursuing that business
  4. Devise a list of measurements you can use to validate your success
  5. Determine the best approach for marketing and promotion
  6. Follow your plan and monitor results
  7. Know when to revise or abandon the plan and try the next thing on YOUR list

Don’t Should on Yourself!

November 30, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Business Basics, Featured

A wise man with whom I worked during my earlier years once came up with a profound New Year’s resolution at our annual marketing support meeting.  The entire group laughed out loud when he said his resolution was to never say “it should work” again.

There does seem to be a resurgence of people not thinking through the answers to questions that are asked.  Responses like this are pointless:

It should have been there by now.” or “That should have worked.”

Normally, a long explanation about how the process is supposed to work follows comments like these.  All kidding aside, it almost seems like an assumption has been made that I wouldn’t have done something simple, like checking my spam folder or reading instructions.  As the support person drones on about how their process works, I’m thinking, “If your system worked the way you’ve described it, I wouldn’t have picked up the phone to find out what was wrong.”

Customer Relationship Management | GetIncomeBlog.comCommunicating is such a critical component of business.  Whether it is written or verbal, our phrasing has a lot to do with how the other side of the conversation receives our responses.  We need to empathize with the caller and, above all, treat them professionally.  Without our customers, we have no business.  This applies to ALL business models … assuming the business is legitimate.

Even though this may sound cliché, there really is no such thing as a dumb question.  Entrepreneurs who are operating a truly customer-facing business must learn how to respond appropriately to their customer’s questions.  Here are some suggestions for improving your customer communications:

  1. Smile before picking up the phone.
  2. Establish set time frames during work days for taking calls to ensure minimal disruption..
  3. Draft agenda topics for scheduled meetings and allocate time limits to the topics.  Distribute the agenda to all invitees in advance of the meeting.  Be flexible to requests to alter or rearrange the agenda and time frames.
  4. Don’t make customers wait more than 24-hours for a response to their email or voicemail.
  5. Set “office hours” so your customers are respectful of your personal boundaries.  Inform active customers of your vacation plans.   If you have a dedicated business line, update your announcement to reflect any extended time away from your office so potential new business doesn’t think you are non-responsive.
  6. Ensure that you understand your customer’s problem statement before suggesting a solution.  They’ve been immersed in it long enough to determine it is a problem.  Sometimes you must back them up to the beginning so you can be of better assistance to them.
  7. Remain calm and be empathetic.  Understand that your customer may have struggled for hours before calling you and that they could be tense as a result.
  8. Set expectations properly if your customer’s issue cannot be handled during the call.
  9. Publish an FAQ page on your website and refer people to it first.  Whether you have a product or service, if you’ve been in business a while you know what questions are most frequent.
  10. If your product is digital, prepare documentation that assumes the least amount of knowledge while making it complete enough for advanced users.

Most of this blog’s readers are aware that I have a service business and that one of my services is WordPress Website Development. Many of my clients are unfamiliar with the software and part of my service fees include one-on-one training.  I welcome client calls because I love teaching people things that will make them feel more self-sufficient and confident with the products and services they have purchased from me.  Because I also enjoy the clients with whom I work as people, I have to monitor the gab time with some of them because we have so much fun just talking.

Email Marketing and Your Business

Email marketing came of age after direct marketing practitioners realized that their methods of engaging customers with postal mail could be applied to the Internet.  For those who are unclear about what email marketing is, it is using email to promote offers and/or obtain new customers.  Reports have proven that this is the next best marketing technique after search marketing.

You can rent a list, purchase a list based on demographics for your niche, or set up an opt-in page to gather list members from your target market.  Even though it takes longer, building your own email marketin list from scratch is probably the safest and most reliable method to use.

No matter where you begin with your list building, a well-written email marketing message can gain a prospect’s trust by disclosing relevant information that helps them to make informed purchasing decisions.  Email marketing also has potential to enhance relationships with existing customers if you continue to provide valuable communications that facilitate repeat or referral business.

The major advantages of email marketing is that there are multiple ways to automate your scheduled or broadcasted communications and it is much more cost-efficient than postal mail.  In addition, your offers have potential to “go viral” because members of your lists can easily forward messages to friends and colleagues who they feel might be interested, which increases your opportunities to make sales and add new customers to your email marketing lists.

Get Income BlogWithin a relatively short period of time, a large audience can be identified and targeted.  Autoresponders, like Aweber, allow you to monitor the responsiveness of your list with email open statistics and click through rates on your embedded links.  They can also help you craft a message that won’t be filtered out by built-in spam catchers.

The sales ratios of your email marketing campaigns or inquiries from members of your list may lead you to new ideas for products and services.  Email enables you to engage your customers in dialogue that helps you to scope your new product development by inviting list members to take surveys or provide feedback on ideas that you are forming.  Talk about convenience!

How Much and How Often?

Loose statistics from direct marketing resources indicates that new customers may need to hear about an offer up to 10 times before making a purchasing decision.  Equally important is that your messages must be timed in such a way that your new list members don’t feel overwhelmed.  For example, I’ve enrolled in campaigns and opted out immediately after receiving multiple messages in quick succession or too many notes in a week.

In my opinion, more than one email marketing message a day is too many.  I’m also of the opinion that more than a couple (3 or more) email marketing messages a week is too much volume, particularly prior to conversion.  Setting up your campaigns to send email every 4th day, or so, keeps your offer on the prospect’s mind without seeming overly aggressive.  That is the whole idea, right?

If all of your all of your email marketing messages are pitching something, people will learn to ignore you.  Keep your email marketing messages relevant and brief.  Most folks are dealing with information overload when they peruse their email inbox so your subjects must stand out if you expect your email to get opened.  Using fantastic email marketing titles that compel people to open may work according to some people but it also can make you seem less trustworthy.    To earn and keep the confidence of your list members, stick to actual facts about your offer and try writing messages that DON’T require disclaimers in tiny print at the bottom of the note.  🙂

Email Marketing Can Have a Dark Side

Some companies collect email addresses of people illegally and send irrelevant mails to them, which can be very annoying.  To get past spam filters, these messages will often have many lines of irrelevant text below the offer with “safe” words in them.

Some hackers intentionally design an email that looks like an advertisement but, when the ads are clicked, malicious software is downloaded that creates headaches for an unsuspecting or naive end user.  I will never understand why smart people, like hackers must be, use their creativity and talent to wreak havoc on people!  Even though your email marketing message is not malicious, you need to understand that everyone with a computer and email has heard one or more horror story and this will affect the success of your campaigns … especially if you have purchased or rented a  list.

In my previous post, I discussed the highlights of the CAN-SPAM act of 2003.  Caution is recommended for any list you choose to join but this does not keep you from receiving unsolicited email marketing, just as postal regulations do not restrict sending demographic based mail to your home.

Since the CAN-SPAM act only applies to US businesses, it is legal to initiate an email marketing campaign from a purchased or rented list as long as a physical address and a functional opt-out is included in the message, and email marketers are allowed up to 10 days following the request to remove people, the CAN-SPAM act seems to protects marketers more than consumers.  Sadly, my single voice isn’t loud enough to get these laws changed anytime soon and corporate entities with much more influence than me are working hard to loosen SPAM regulations, not tighten them.

Most email clients and webmail systems have spam filtering capabilities that can help to keep your inbox clean but those algorithms aren’t perfect.  How many times have you found a legitimate messages in your spam folder?  How many legitimate messages have you accidentally deleted?

Email Marketing is Only ONE Marketing Channel

As the saying goes, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.  This is especially true for marketing and advertising expenses.  Email marketing is a great tool for building your business out there but you should also be testing other marketing methods and you should always be tracking the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Go forth and prosper, and make sure you use this marketing method wisely.

Are You Email Marketing or Spamming?

Email marketing is a proven method of developing a relationship with your customers and, if that relationship is properly developed and nurtured, a way to generate affiliate cash flow when you need it.  All that is well and good, but when your opt-out doesn’t result in being opted out, email marketing campaigns can result in driving business away.

One of the inboxes that I own began receiving email from Elizabeth Jackson.  Since I used to know an Elizabeth Jackson, I was enthused to see her name.  It was disappointing to find an advertisement for Work At Home jobs when I opened the email.

I used the option to unsubscribe, more than a dozen times during the past 3 months, and I continued to get email from Elizabeth Jackson from different email addresses.  Each time, I opted out again.  Further research today helped me deduce that Elizabeth Jackson is a fictitious name used to “protect the affiliates” who are promoting a certain CPA campaign offered by Clickbooth, to get income.  Clickbooth advertises themselves as the “exclusive CPA Network” who is ranked #1 by Website Magazine.

Ok, that is all legal but my question today is, who is protecting me, or others who didn’t invite these CPA email offers?

SPAM and the Consumer

email-marketing-or-spam-postPrior to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, I was forced to close a business email account that was being overwhelmed by no less than 50+ messages an hour in a language I couldn’t even read!  Things have gotten better, for sure, but it is possible to be in compliance of that act and still be doing nothing other than irritating customers or prospects.  Case in Point:  Elizabeth Jackson.

Here are some CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 cliff notes:

  1. It is an opt-out law and, for most purposes, permission of the e-mail recipient is not required.  If a recipient wants to unsubscribe or opt-out, however, you’d better stop sending e-mails you are at risk of being subject to severe civil and criminal penalties.
  2. Fraudulent or deceptive subjects, headers, return addresses, etc., are prohibited.
  3. Sending sexually explicit email without clear markings is a criminal act.
  4. Email marketers must have a functional opt-out system that is easy for consumers to use and is operational for at least 30-days following each mailing.
  5. Email messages should include a physical address of the company in the email.
  6. Spammers AND those who procure their services are culpable and both can be prosecuted.
  7. Personal emails, and perhaps non-profit emails, are not addressed by the act.  It applies to all US businesses who are sending commercial email of a transactional nature.

SPAM and the Business Owner

Looking over the guidelines again, a smile came to my face.  I do feel that some of the earnings claims in subject lines from a few of the internet marketing lists that I’ve joined are nothing other than deceptive, in spite of their disclaimers.  This is especially true when the click through leads to a product or service that was not developed by the sender.  But I am a perpetual student of marketing methods and completely understand that this is how affiliate programs work.  🙂

Email marketing is a good business strategy, especially for affiliate marketers.  At Flippa, sites with lists are worth more than other sites at the time of sale.  Thus, whether your motivation in launching a site is to build a Niche Empire or develop a site to later sell for profit, building an email marketing list is very important!

CAN-SPAM Loopholes

An apparent loophole in the CAN-SPAM Act, which is always exploited by senders of unsolicited email, allows email marketers have up to 10-days to complete an unsubscribe request.  Although those business owners are adhering to the letter of the law, I find it absurd.  All the autoresponders that I have ever used or recommended facilitate immediate removal from a list.

Pick Up The Phone!

In my desperation to stop getting three more months of unsolicited email from Elizabeth Jackson, whom I now know is a fake person, I was prepared to send a snail mail letter but I dug deep enough to find a phone number to call.  I did allude to the CAN-SPAM act during my call, which may have inspired them to be more attentive, but that remains to be seen.  Regardless, it was comforting to actually speak with someone who listened to my concerns and gathered up the email addresses that I wanted to eradicate from their lists.

The phone seems to have gone out of fashion but the truth remains that consumers sometimes need a phone number to call.  Business owners might conclude that including a phone number on your primary sales page footers or within the terms and conditions page at your site is a good idea for owners of affiliate programs.  After all, the program owner is equally exposed to the fines and penalties outlined in the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, and they are legally obligated to manage the affiliates who are issuing email marketing messages on their behalf.

Incoming search terms:

Zoom in on Zettabytes

May 10, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Communicating for Success

Most of us don’t think twice about what is involved in maintaining the platforms the Social Networking and Social Bookmarking potpourri of sites that we use each day in our online businesses.  These days, the focus is mostly on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.  Other useful sites are LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Flickr, MySpace, and Last.fm … to name a few.  Then there are he multiple free email accounts we have.

When it comes to our home computing environments, we unconsciously manage disk space every day.  If we have self-hosted blogs, we look for and choose hosting vendors who permit us to have unlimited storage for our websites.  Yet, we take the storage of our Tweets and posts for granted.

Every piece of content must be stored somewhere.  In the early days of email, I was part of a group who studied email etiquette with interest.  We discussed computing capacity issues, like storage, too.  A friend of mine, who worked for EMC, wrote a fascinating white paper about the exponential growth of data storage.  Her predictions have been exceeded by mounds and mounds and mounds of data.  None of us foresaw the advent of micro-blogging in 1985, let alone text messaging on a cell phone!  🙂

GetIncomeBlog.com | Zoom in on ZettabytesRecent research by IDC revealed that our digital universe grew by 62% during the last year alone.  The stunning amount of storage online at the time of the study was 800,000 petabytes, a measure better described at this link.  In short, it is one million gigabytes.  By the end of 2010, it is predicted that there will be 1.2 zettabytes online.  A zettabyte, incidentally, is roughly half a million times the entire collections of all the academic libraries in the United States.  Whew!  And I’m worrying about a few gigabytes around here.  😀

Computers and the internet have made our lives easier, much more public and availed methods to get income online for some of us too.  Pages upon pages of material sifted and listed, categorized and presented for our reading pleasure with a few keystrokes and a button click.  Since our content is cached and stored online indefinitely, one begins to wonder if our content will outlive our grandchildren.  Who can say?

Facebook Taking Heat Over Privacy Policy Changes

Social networking is a great way to connect with prospects and friends.  Over the past few months, there have been a lot of internet marketers advising that Facebook is a better advertising spot than Google.  When you must advertise, it is good to have choices where your ads will be targeted but has Facebook gone too far to serve up data for their advertisers?  It would appear so, if the US Federal Government has gotten involved.

In a nutshell, here is what has changed.  Previously, Facebook flushed personal information from their cache each 24-hours.  The privacy policy revision states that it will be held infinitely and that advertisers may use it for targeted promotions.  Many internet marketers have picked up on this nuance and developed products for sale to help people get more bang for their advertising buck.

facebook-privacy-policy

Although Facebook users have the privilege of opting out, the user interface is confusing and most folks don’t know where to look for the opt-out.  Heck, finding your public profile link can be an absolute chore!  I do understand the genesis of Facebook as being sort of an online yearbook for a university.  This may explain the unwieldiness of it  but it doesn’t forgive the fact that we should be able to easily locate all news and important links by visiting out own profiles.  In other words, the obligation to track changes to the privacy policy of any social networking site is not the user’s.

Many Facebook users won’t care one way or the other.  Still, there are those among us who don’t enjoy unsolicited advertisements.  I’m sure one.  When I logged into my account today, I found a dozen ads that were geo-targeted to my location.  Local shops, product providers, service providers, Realtors and bars.  I’d rather not be bombarded like that.  I looked for a method of opting out and I just couldn’t find it!  🙁

Facebook is not wrong to sell advertising space.  Their on-screen real estate is valuable and they must fund the site support.  All things being equal, Facebook ads are less expensive than Google Adwords.

The fact remains that nothing replaces good SEO with a solid keyword strategy.  In my online branding business, I never advocate that my clients use paid advertising.  I will provide some consulting services to help them learn the SEO ropes.  It isn’t a big secret or anything.  Most of the information someone needs to learn SEO is available online for free.  With interest, the ability to read, and the willingness to monitor results and experiment, perseverance will take your site where you’d like it to be.

PLR WordPress Websites … Turn Key or Not?

April 25, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Featured, PLR Products

PLR WordPress Websites are used by internet marketers as a way to get a site online quickly.  If you’ve ever worked with them in the past and have an interest in learning the underlying technologies that make a website work, the instructions and a little time are more than adequate.

Everyone working on the internet must be aware of the rising popularity of WordPress.   If you aren’t, feel free to contact me to learn more about how you can leverage this amazing software for your websites, beyond the traditional blog.

PLR WordPress Under the Covers

WordPress Websites require knowledge of more than simple HTML to set up correctly.  WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) that uses databases for content storage and PHP scripts to access that content for presentation on a website.  Learning how things all work together can be a rewarding journey if you like knowing how things work.  If you have limited experience with technology and become impatient when things don’t go as expected, your project can be less than fun.

PLR WordPressThe whole idea of PLR is that you can purchase content, slightly modify it, and put it up as your own.  This permits the ability to begin creating a web presence with a minimum of effort and can also save on expense of hiring someone who can adequately translate your vision into a functional website for a product or service launch.  If your goal is to monetize a site quickly and you lack the base technical skills you need to read into the instructions,  you are likely to be confounded by a PLR WordPress Website purchase.

PLR wordpress products will give you all of the information that you need about installation, usage and reselling privileges.  There are some generalized guidelines but PLR products do have differences so reading the license for your new software is advisable.

PLR WordPress Database and Security Matters

A simple WordPress installation creates 11 tables, at this time.  WordPress requires that certain things are set up in order for the software to operate correctly.  These specialized data are stored in various tables within the site database.  The list of items includes a site URL and blog URL, if it is different.

While reviewing the installation script for a recent project, I saw that the PLR WordPress Product had altered the standard WordPress Installation script, apparently in an effort to bypass the need to make these changes in the database.  All things being equal, uploading the database export to the destination database on my client’s servers was easy.  As I analyzed the data that was stored in the tables, however, I realized that the instructions lacked very important information for truly owning the site and its data.

Another observation that I made about the PLR wordpress setup script was that it didn’t follow secure WordPress Website installation practices that have been recommended for more than two years.  As we are all painfully aware, website security is critical … especially if it is a source of income for you.

A new user of WordPress, who may have been misled into believing it is a one-click install would not have known what to look for, let alone how to change it.

PLR WordPress Setup

No one that I know puts up a website, WordPress or otherwise, just for the sake of having a website alone.  At least I hope not!  🙂  The whole idea of having a website is that you want traffic to your site so you can share some specialized knowledge, build authority in a niche or campaign about products and services that you might be offering.  Once again, knowing what settings affect the visibility of your new WordPress website are the key.

The PLR wordpress software package that needed to be installed did not have the privacy settings nor ping list optimized for broad access to the new site.  Indeed, the website was up as predicted but nothing in the installation instructions addressed these critical and necessary changes so it could be found through organic searches and paid advertising campaigns.

The Virtually Marj Service team uses standardized procedure for optimizing settings, as well as a standard list of plugins for analyzing and improving traffic to the site.  This is our “secret sauce” so I won’t be laying all of that out for you here but if you’d like to know more about that, you can contact me.

To PLR or Not to PLR, that is the question

PLR WordPress Products are a great way to jump start your business and niche websites. I’m grateful that people take the time to create them.  As with all business decisions, choosing the “right tool for the job” is an important step along the way.  As for PLR WordPress Websites, they are not recommended for people who do not have the underlying wordpress skills that will allow them to read between the lines of the instructions or who don’t have staff to make them work properly as a business building tool

Increase your Twitter followers by eleventy-billion in seconds

April 19, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Business Basics

I didn’t create the page that I’m writing about today but I’ve been wanting to do someting similar for more than two years!  Because my site is G-Rated, I can’t put a link to it but if you don’t mind a little free expression, colorful language, and want a good laugh, I encourage you to search for the site using the title of this post to find it.   🙂 

eleventy-billion-twitter-followers-postIncrease your Twitter followers by eleventy-billion in seconds uses all the tactics that experienced internet marketers have ever used, so far as I am aware.  There is an animated roll down script on the corner of the page, a bodacious lead in claim, multiple rave reviews, and a purchase option.  It even employs a tactic that I’ve noticed rising in trends and don’t much like.  There is no price given on the landing page.  But they admit they aren’t selling anything, which is part of the fun. 

From an educational point of view, this is a great example of what NOT to do on your sales pages.  From a social media perspective, it touches upon another source of my dismay, which is the automation of friend finding on social networks.  I mean, if you have to automate relationships, what is the point to them? 

Oh yeah … selling something!  😀 

Recently, Michael Fortin had a much more politically correct post on the same idea.  Even a respected professional who has gained from product launch tactics sounds nauseated by them. 

The internet product launch formula needs a tune-up, I believe.  Maybe more internet marketers could try more honesty with a smidge of reality next time around.  Why not leave out the “hot spices” from the recipe so everyone can digest the cuisine without getting heartburn? 

I dislike citing problems without imagining possible solutions.  While I can’t say that I’ve been party to a huge product launch … yet … I certainly hope to see a trending upwards of these things. 

Forget the Bonuses 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that the worth of the bonuses is overstated if they are willing to give them away or sell them at 1/1000 of their supposed value.  A brief time spent on the internet will tell you that these products are approaching obsolescence.  Very few internet marketers have been up-front about the fact that they are clearing old product. 

Stand Behind Your Product 

This week, I listened to a webinar hosted by Frank Kern, who is working with Brendon Bouchard on a program called the Experts Academy.  While I decided against opting into their membership, I found their offer to refund all purchases, regardless of how far in the future the request was made, quite fascinating. 

This demonstrates two important things.

  1. They truly believe in their product
  2. They are genuinely concerned about customer satisfaction

Guarantees like that are the exception among internet marketers.  Clickbank products abide by the 56-day refund rule.  Sellers of software, that was misrepresented or has proven to be buggy or not working at all, have refused my requests for refunds less that 30-days after my purchase.  Although it is irritating, it isn’t worth the dispute and negativity it would create in my life to pursue it any further. 

Even with my desire to see product promoters offer extended refund policies, I do understand that the buyer of anything can’t just change their mind and claim something didn’t work for them.  If they’ve never tried the product, there is no flaw and no basis for requesting a refund.  If there is accountability coupled with lifetime guarantees, then it is fair for all parties involved. 

Don’t Promote … Campaign 

Something that Brendon Bouchard said during the webinar really made sense.  Even though the idea of a new product is exciting to the developers and they want as many sales possible in the least amount of time, the persistent promotion emails are tedious. 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  People don’t like being sold.  They prefer to use their best judgment and make a decision on their own.  Promotions are like putting the giant inflatable gorilla on the roof of a building.  They attract attention but they look silly. 

Build interest through a series of explanations about what the product overcomes or improves.  Leave out the links in the notes once in a while.  Request email inquiries and avail a mailbox that will be read and responded to.  People like to ask questions and to get answers. 

Real Testimonials Only,  Please… 

The FCC has endeavored to clamp down on false testimonials and paid reviews in the USA but who knows how that ruling is policed?  Do they prey on known offenders or randomly pick them out?  Either way, this ruling has as much “beef” in it as the anti-spam laws, based on the bulk email that I receive every day. 

When I see a plethora of testimonials on a page with no dates or full names, I cannot help but wonder about the vintage and credibility of the testimonial.  Since I am fully aware that many internet marketers give away copies of their products to their inner circle for trials before they are made available to the public at large, I feel that full disclosure would clear up any confusion.  Therefore, segregating raves given by people who got a trial version at no cost seems like a good idea.  It also would be wonderful if that round of reviews were updated within 3 – 6 months of the product launch. 

Say Thank You! 

Would it be too much to ask that the product owner take a little personal time to write a thank you email?  We are human beings, doing business with human beings, and someone has believed that our product was worth spending some money on.  Courtesy should not be automated. 

While we’re at it, is it to much to ask that follow up emails inquire as to how we are doing rather than continuing to promote more products for sale?

The Secret about The Secret

James Arthur Ray was featured on Nightline this week. It seems that some of the participants of his Spiritual Warrior Retreat, held in Sedona in early October, died in a sweat lodge exercise at the end of a grueling week of motivational activities. The sweat lodge exercise was mandated after the people had spent days in the beautiful canyons of Sedona, without food or adequate rest, to connect with their inner truth … supposedly.

Human physiology is fragile. It didn’t seem at all odd that some people might have been dehydrated and unfit to go into a sweat lodge for hours on the heels of their Sedona experience. I’ve wandered through the trails of Sedona. The trails to the vortexes are not paved and most of them involve a climb. As I listened to the statements on Nightline, made by survivors of this experience, as well as from family members whose loved ones had died, I pondered the huge industry that has grown around The Law of Attraction and The Secret over the past couple of years. If you are operating in this niche, you are well advised to monitor the progress of this story!

the-secret-james-arthur-rayDon’t get me wrong, I watched The Secret, in the fall of 2007, and the movie was nothing other than inspirational. The underlying message of this movie, and others like it, is that you have the ability to change your viewpoint, and in so doing, have an opportunity to change your life’s course. If you are under the tutelage of a charismatic leader, like James Arthur Ray must be, it’s probably easy to get swept into a belief system that causes you to want the success he says is so easily attainable. And, to his credit, he has a large following.

The fact that our mental approach to a problem can either resolve it or lead us further astray isn’t new information. In the United States, this was discovered by a couple of drunks as they commiserated with each other over a cup of coffee, so the story goes. The relief these two men felt led them to start a movement called Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) that has helped millions of people all over the world for nearly a century. AA text suggests “stinking thinking” is the source of emotional problems that lead people to make bad decisions, in this case, drinking. In fact, AA could possibly be the very first Law of Attraction program!

The big difference between AA and programs like James Arthur Ray’s is that AA doesn’t define its membership by the amount of money they have to spend to join. This is written into their 12 Traditions at article six, which is a spiritual tradition recognizing that money, property and prestige can distract an AA group from its primary purpose … to help people.

James Arthur Ray’s Spiritual Warrior Retreat was selling for a whopping fee of $9,695! This adventure built on a previous product offering called Practical Mysticism which sold for $5,295. The funny thing about reading Ray’s promotional materials is that they are merely sales letters, no different in psychology than the sales letters that compel one to purchase anything they’ve never heard about before. Personally, I doubt that Ray is any different than any other person who knows the truth about mindset; he’s just used his connection to The Secret to create a multi-million dollar enterprise.

One person might say this is clever. Another might say it is opportunistic. In the end, only James Arthur Ray knows his motivations and, in light of civil suits already filed against his organization after the Spiritual Warrior debacle, with the strong possibility of forthcoming criminal charges, the law will intervene to make judgment. This judgment could lead to a need to regulate the industry which will wash out a lot of self-help charlatans.

What disturbs me most about Law of Attraction practitioners-for-profit is the disparity of their words against their self-serving style. Last year, I observed this in a “joint venture” where the time I spent developing technology wasn’t recognized as having value and my “partner” asked me to pay for an EFT session. Without exception, every client that I’ve worked with who practices a “wealth attraction” coaching or information business has seemed to be the most tight-fisted and demanding client on my list for, when it comes to completing a project paying the final bill, they will always manufacture excuse after excuse for not producing a final payment when the terms of our contract have been fulfilled.

Is this indicative of the industry at large? One can only hope it isn’t…

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Stretching Your Mind Can Change Your Life

October 22, 2009 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Business Basics, Featured

Personally, I find it enjoyable when something occurs that seems synchronous to events in present time. The other night, such an event occurred. While rifling through papers in my desk drawer, an old fortune from a fortune cookie surfaced. It read:

One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.

Not only is this synchronous, it also is quite profound in its simple truth. Once we are introduced to a something new, and the idea takes root in our minds and inspires us, it is virtually impossible to operate as we did before we made our important discovery. Our eager minds pursue the idea and follow it through permutations and twists in the road. Through every turn, the core substance of the idea remains solid and the starting point to which you always will return, should you find a need to adjust your strategy.

Take Internet Marketing, for example. A few years ago, I decided that I would get income through online means. In pursuit of that vision, I began subscribing to newsletters and purchasing products that would teach me more about what people were doing online. Some of the methods that I evaluated are not ones that I use or would recommend but knowing what not to do is almost as important as knowing what to do, isn’t it? Due to my interest and attention, I am able to spot trends and, when it comes to opportunity offers, I have a pretty good system for separating the wheat from the chaff.

As I put my own business plan into motion, it became obvious that my time spent learning about internet marketing was extremely helpful to people who retained my services for Online Branding and wanted to get income online. Although my primary source of income is still from my consulting services, the fact that I am personally involved with my customers doesn’t imply that I am not an internet marketer. I source all of my business through Web 2.0 methods and enjoy working with people.  And, the best part is that my business is totally portable!

My mind was stretched by this self-induced learning. When I approach a potential business liaison or client, it is nearly impossible for me to talk merely about traditional means of sourcing new business. When I set up ecommerce websites, for instance, I make recommendations beyond layout, technology, and graphics. My degree is in business and that knowledge, coupled with the education I’ve received through personal learning, are assets to any project that I undertake and I’ve heard this repeatedly from my customers.

All things being equal, anyone who has a business website is an internet marketer. Here is the caveat; The prettiest site in the world cannot manufacture new business and cash flow. If you haven’t done so already, it would serve you well to either learn about, or retain the services of someone who knows about techniques that will improve your website’s visibility through Web 2.0 techniques that drive targeted traffic, as well as performing the time-consuming SEO methods that will get it listed and ranked by search engines. If you are in business and have no website, you are missing an incredible opportunity. Personally, I feel that it is sheer folly to be in business without a website. It is statistically proven that people look online prior to making any purchase decision.

stretch-your-mind-postimgEven though this is not business related, our minds can also be stretched by ideas that present themselves in everyday life. The ingenuity of a child who is working out a difficult “engineering” problem related to the sand castle they are building at the beach is a good example. It is not an unimportant side note to remind you to take time to relax your mind so as to re-charge your creative juices.  If we are fortunate, we retain our sense of awe about things that are remarkable and have nothing to do with making money, like watching swallows soaring high above us or witnessing the oceans that undulate through forces unseen. At times when you need to restore yourself, it is good to have easy access to those things that opened your mind as a child.

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