Success Stories and Mooch Marketing
January 05, 2007
Posted in Ken's Blog
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I've been thinking a lot about Mooch Marketing since I first posted on it. One of their favorite techniques is "the success story."
These success stories/testimonials are either "false impressions" or "true but tricky" (they are the success!) Let's talk about the latter in some detail after a quick review of the former...
False Impression Success Stories -- most "testimonials" are either...
- untraceable ("A.K. from Phoenix, Arizona"), or
- part of an unscrupulous cross-selling group ("you do mine and I'll do yours"), or
- success stories that are failures.
"Success stories that are failures?" Yes, this is a favorite ploy of the large Web hosting companies. They show you a pretty site, with well copy-written stories. Pretty home but the lights are out. Here's how to do some proper due diligence...
Take the time to examine the so-called "success stories" of Yahoo!'s or 1&1's or any large Web host's small business section. Check the traffic ranking by entering the domain into Alexa.com. A ranking over 1 million, and certainly over 2 million, is not getting much traffic (here's how to really use and interpret Alexa well). Once you check the Alexa traffic ranking, cross-check with the Google PR.
You'll be amazed at how poorly these sites are doing. They generally rank over 1,000,000 at Alexa, often over 2,000,000 and are even unknown to Alexa (which means not a single toolbar-user has visited in 90 days!). Google PR? Also often dismal.
But who has time to check these things? These companies are betting (bluffing really) that the answer to that question is... not you! Instead, though, small business people are wowed by the brand, by the insulting offer of a free domain or even free hosting (so limited as to be useless). And so...
They rush to purchase, apparently eager to join the 99% of small businesses doomed to pay Google for advertising if they ever want to have any traffic. That "free domain/hosting" starts looking awfully expensive one year later... a year of life wasted, Webmaster fees, Google ads. And it all added up to failure.
The second form of the so-called success story? Ah, this is a tool of the the Master Mooch Marketer ("MMM"), the "True But Tricky Success Story"...
The MMM usually features its own excellent success story as part of "the marketing story." The sizzle is all about this incredibly successful company selling this red-hot new software, or expensive coaching, or system/strategy (from mini-sites to co-registration to automated-content-creators to link-building-networks, etc.).
You get so caught up in the sizzle of their success story that you forget to actually check out the product itself. And don't get me wrong. Their success story is all true -- these folks are enormously successful... at fooling people.
Thank goodness they don't sell a "how to fool people" product, revealing how they manage to fool thousands of people into parting with thousands of dollars. Make no mistake about it -- THEY are the success story. Not you. In a year, you'll only be poorer.
But they are incredibly talented... brilliant at orchestrating a Web-sizzling launch. They write copy that could not only sell ice to the proverbial Eskimo, but that could then upsell the freezer to keep it in.... and the solar panel to power the freezer. They've mastered the high-skilled, high-pressured art-and-science that gets folks to their sites, gets them drooling, and gets their credit cards.
There is just one problem. They are not teaching you to be as successful as they are. What they sell does not work, or is a trick that has stopped working for them. The "customer success stories," upon due diligence, are shoddy, short-termed, and only show any activity due to the intense promotion itself.
The "system" doesn't work. The "coaching" turns out to be a huge letdown. The product turns out to be bogus. And what do most good folks do? They chalk it up to experience.
I hope this post keeps you from having to pay for that lesson.
Master Mooch Marketers who promote dishonest and spammy schemes and products want to mislead you into buying poor products that make money for them. They have no sense of accountability, no ethics. (SiteSell experienced this first-hand -- threatened by the integrity and value of SBI!, some "Make Money Online" gurus had their followers fabricate made-on-demand negative "site build it scam" reviews. Google subsequently banned their unscrupulous splogging schemes.)
When you do come across one of these hot-button, hot-buzz promotions, remember...
It's not relevant how much buzz they create, nor how successful they are. These master manipulators really are brilliant -- brilliant at taking your money. They create the false impression that they can make YOU just like THEM, and then they seriously underdeliver. For example...
We have an employee who once paid a Mooch Marketer $8,000 for one-on-one Web success coaching. The sales person was absolutely brilliant, inspired great confidence, and the company was exploding in growth. THAT is what he thought he was buying. The actual coach who called with Lesson 1 knew less than our employee. Never got his money back.
We tend to trust others. And we all would like to believe that it's easy to get rich quick. Combine that with great copy and master manipulators and you could find yourself out of $8,000 just as quickly.
So be careful of the hot story. They won't teach you what they really do, which is fooling people and taking your money. The actual product or service for sale is, in fact, often available for free with some online research, rather than paying thousands of dollars.
Heck, if there is any real validity to it, one or two techniques marketed for thousands are even boiled down (the information is publicly available, just needs solid researching) into articles in our Tips 'n Techniques HQ, a private SBI! collection of up-to-date articles on marketing and monetizing techniques.
We would all love to be Tiger Woods. (Well, I would so maybe that's just me!) But you get the point. These Master Mooch Manipulators are "the Tiger Woods" of selling stuff at ridiculous prices to mooches (who just can't say "no" because "what if it's real" -- it's not!).
Their "hot story" creates the desire to rub shoulders with "Tiger." They show you Tiger Woods, but they aren't teaching you how to swing like Tiger (and none of us has that type of talent, anyway). All they'll selling is a shiny but broken putter for $3,000.
Tiger Woods leads into my next post...
Play Within Yourself in Golf, Business, and Life
But I'll stop now before I get going on that one. :-)
All the best,
P.S. If you really want to understand how small business people make buying decisions, and it can be a long and winding (and misleading) road, read this amazing thread in the SBI! Forums...
If you are not an affiliate or SBI! customer, you can enter the forums by asking an SBI! owner for a private password or by joining the 5P Affiliate Program.
It's an invaluable education for anyone who is serious about reaching and selling ethically to the small business person. You'll see how people bounce from one marketing ploy to another, until they discover Site Build It!. That's when they stop bouncing, and start succeeding.
That thread also mentions our Case Studies. No doubt about it, success stories are powerful. When they are true, unpaid, verifiable and totally do-able by the average person, they become what a great success story should be... quietly convincing.
SBI! owners even started to send in updates in the Case Studies site, totally unexpected and not at all requested. Where have you seen anything like that? Or for that matter, where have you ever seen videos like these?