Something Jordan Cooper said last week during a live #BWEChat at BlogWorld has been on my mind. Our discussion was about Internet marketers and how people can determine who is on the up and up, and who may be using some fancy talk to convince folks they have experience, when in reality they don’t. Most people who are selling online don’t want to be seen as scammers. However, it’s difficult to determine who to trust, especially when some pretty big names are recommending we buy products without proving to anyone they’re effective.
Jordan, to me, gave the most important point in our discussion. Anyone who is hired for any job has to provide a resume listing experience, experience that is easy to prove. The same should hold true for anyone selling anything online.
Why I don’t buy info products
Now, I’m technically challenged. As a technically challenged person I can tell you that I would love to read an ebook or take a course that promised to fill my head with the most wonderful knowledge, guaranteed to take me from zero to hero in seconds flat. I’ve been tempted, oh how I’ve been tempted. However, there are a few things that keep me from buying:
- Price: Why am I going to spend $1500 for 90 pages, especially if it’s something I can learn during a Google search?
- Jargon: Lingo turns me off. There are no secrets to success, it’s hard work and anyone who tells me otherwise won’t get my money. I’m realistic enough to know I’m not going to make millions from any one info product.
- Reviews: I rarely see reviews or testimonials by people outside of the marketers inner circle. Why is that?
- I’m too busy: The main reason I never bought an info product is because I don’t have time to read ebooks, take courses or get on phone calls. If I am going to buy these things, the promises better not be vague and they have to teach me something absolutely amazing that I can’t learn anywhere else for a cheaper price.
- I won’t pay for a name: I don’t care how high your Klout score is or how many people blindly retweet you in an hour, your name isn’t enough for me to pay $1500 for your course. There has to be something behind that name.
The way I see it, there are two big problems with online marketing.
1. Tribe Marketing
So I don’t have a an issue with tribe marketing in theory. I think friends should support friends. We all like to help out buddies who own shops or sell crafts. We recommend our friends to others and shop at their stores when we can.The problem with tribe marketing is that there’s recommending going on, but we’re kind of fuzzy when it comes to the shopping part. If I’m going to review someone’s product or service and recommend it to others, I’m going to have to have used it for a while to know it’s effective. I’m not going to recommend said product, service, or person, if it didn’t do anything for me, and I’m certainly not going to recommend for the sake of recommending.
Members of the tribe aren’t putting out thousands of dollars. They’re receiving the product free, if they’re receiving it at all. So they’re not out any money and therefore have nothing to lose. People who receive products for free aren’t always inclined to review in a negative manner. Plus, it gets kind of incestuous. You know that if a certain person is releasing a product, the same friends will be around to help spread the word. And vice versa. After a while it’s pretty apparent there’s a tribe thing happening.
The wording used by those who are giving testimonials is interesting too because they’re not saying, “Here’s what happened when I used this product,” they’re saying “use this product and you’ll learn XXX.” Most of the time there’s nothing there indicating that the reviewer took the course or read the ebook at all. I want to know that the person who reviewed the product benefited from the product. If he can’t show me that, how can I trust the review? And here’s something else, most of the people who were in the above mentioned chat said they were afraid to call some of these tribers out on their this sort of thing because they worried about what would happen if they outed or questioned a big name.
2. Lack of proof of experience
Here’s the thing. Too many people are saying they can do something without providing proof. If you’re a marketing expert with Fortune 500 clients, I want to know who those clients are. I want to be able to contact those clients and say, “Marketer X says he worked for your company. Did he? Is he as good as he says he is?” If I can’t look into his past and see that he knows what he’s talking about, I’m not buying his info product. Moreover, just because someone worked for a company doesn’t mean she did a good job at it. Perhaps the person launching the info product did, indeed, work for a major name but maybe what that person didn’t tell us is that he was fired less than a month after being hired because he just didn’t know what he was doing.
When someone is telling me he’s an authority or expert and that what he is teaching me will propel me to the same success, I want to know that person is exactly who he claims to be. I’d like to see references from people who aren’t part of the tribe and it shouldn’t be too difficult to check those references. See, I’m not rich. I’m tired of being made to feel silly because I think $99 is too much to pay for an ebook and $1500 is too much money to spend on an online writing course. I have a mortgage and I have a family. Nothing would piss me off more than knowing I’ve been swindled out of money that could have gone to my kid’s college fund. If an Internet marketing type feels their product is so valuable it warrants serious bucks, they better darn well show me why.
Why I want to see a resume
It’s important to anyone who is buying an info product to know the person who is selling it is exactly who he says he is. I don’t want a bunch of random, vague experiences listed that seem to change from year to year. If you were once quoted on CNN.com eight years ago for something not remotely related to what you’re selling, I don’t want to see “As seen on CNN.com” listed on your info product sales page. If you say household name brands consult with you on a regular basis, I want to know who those brands are and how long you worked with them. It would also be helpful to learn why you and said name are no longer working together. Saying you worked with someone may mean it was a one off gig 20 years ago and had nothing to do with anything you’re selling. It could also mean you were fired and they would in no way ever recommend you for any gig, ever.
I wouldn’t mind knowing, in great detail, why you’re qualified to sell me this product. Having your best buddy recommend it to me means nothing, especially if he so nicely received the product for free. If you’re going to give me testimonials, I don’t want to hear from the same people every single time unless they can prove they used the product and it worked. It would be great if we could see testimonials from the lady who spent her last $500 on your ebook or the student who spent $1500 he really didn’t have in hopes your product was just the thing he needed to launch his career.
There’s a reason people who are looking for work create resumes, just as there’s a reason interviews are required before hiring someone for a job. The people who we’re paying big money to for a product? They’re also working for us and if they want our business bad enough they should make it their mission to create a bond of trust. If they’re exactly who they say they are it shouldn’t be a problem to to list details that are easy to prove or find people to do the reviews who aren’t friends or affiliates.
Who do you buy from online?
Do you buy from a person online who you really don’t know much about? How do you determine someone is trustworthy. Because someone blogs on a regular basis, does this make him an expert? Tell us about who you buy from online and why you trust that person. Also, would you ever publicly call out a big name for selling a shoddy product, or are you too afraid of the tribe?