RANT of the Week

"How DARE You!"

One of the complaints ezine publishers hear regularly concerns "exclusive mailings" - or "solo ads." These are emails sent to the ezine subscribers which usually contain an ad or other information. Frankly, I'm tired of hearing about it.

Let's think about this logically. I subscribe to TIME Magazine - and I pay for it. Yet, TIME makes their money mainly from advertising. They routinely send me extra mailings with special offers - in addition to the regular ads in each issue. Those are solo ads!

If I don't like it - they are not going to give me my money back. In fact, I would be lucky if I could make them stop sending the magazine before the subscription ran out.

Online ezines are published to build a mailing list. This is no secret. Most publishers don't do all that work out of the goodness of their hearts. They are in business! The subscriber base is a controlled list of possible buyers for whatever product/service the publisher is marketing.

For the most part, publishers try to give good - and valuable - content. Very few charge for their ezines so this information is FREE to the subscriber. Can you imagine what you would have to pay for the information you receive in a free ezine if you purchased it in training courses?

As a publisher, I have repeatedly refused to accept "Solo" ads to send to my readers. I only send out extra mailings if I believe it's something my readers really need to know about. However, I have no problem at all with publishers who DO accept solo ads. Advertisers want these ads because they are more likely to be read than a small 5 line ad in the middle of an ezine.

A couple of minutes of my time to read an extra ad sent by a publisher who is providing me with valuable information and/or entertainment every week is a small price to pay for what I'm getting without charge.

Putting out a good ezine every week is a lot of hard work! Expecting an ezine publisher to teach us and/or entertain us - then complaining about the occasional extra ad (or even "too many" ads in an issue) is like the people who go to a free Happy Hour buffet - eat 50 bucks worth of free food - then bitch because they have to serve themselves.

Ezines were not designed for the sole delight of the subscribers who receive this information for free - then complain about it. They were not designed by publishers to have something to fill up their time - make them crazy - and give them a lot of guff.

I saw a fairly new publisher having this problem, last week. Publishers don't need the, “How DARE you!” rhetoric from subscribers over an occasional advertising special mailing. Time to grow up!

An electronic magazine - as with any print magazine - is a vehicle for profit. The trade off with a free ezine is MORE than fair to the subscriber! You get the free information - the publisher gets the exposure for advertising. Extra ads are part of the deal unless otherwise stated.

Is there anything you can do about it? Sure there is. Learn to live with it, or stop taking the gift of the free information the ezine offers you.

Business Notes

Who ARE These People?

I was asked to take a look at two different marketing programs. One was Network Marketing and the other was an affiliate type program. One of the programs was offering a very hefty commission. Both of these programs are owned by people well known in their fields. Sounds like the "pros," eh?

We could only hope.

I went to both web sites to read the marketing material. Plenty of that! What I didn't find was any contact information - other than the names of the heads of these programs and some generic email addresses. Now - why is this a problem? If these people are so well known, why do I believe it's an issue?

Think about it a minute. Are you going to join a program - work your butt off to sell someone else's product - earn your commissions - then, not even know where your money is? Who is holding your fees? Where are they holding your fees?

If something runs amuck, how are you going to contact someone about the money that's owed to you? What if it's a lot of money? Are you going to call them? No phone number on the site! Have your attorney send them a letter? No physical address on the site! Not even in their member agreements! How legal is that?

One of the programs I mentioned above paid $225 commissions. If you sold one of these products a week, you would be owed almost a thousand dollars in a month. I repeat - where is your money?

It simply isn't good business to allow someone to hold that much money when you don't even have contact information. This would never happen off-line! Why would you put up with it online?

When you sign up for any online marketing program - remember this! Not only do you have a contract with that company. They have a contract with you! You have a right - in fact, an obligation to yourself - to know exactly who they are - exactly where they are - and exactly how to contact them by regular mail - and by telephone.

They certainly get that information from you! And, if you live in the USA, you may even have to provide your social security number. If they're a legitimate company (in the USA), they have a Tax ID number. Try asking them for it, and see what happens!

No one is such a professional that all they need to provide to their business associates is their name! No One!

Not even Oprah.

Web Sites that Don't Work!

Not making the money you'd like to with your web site? This might be a good time of year to look it over carefully.

Not only are the following god-awful irritating - these situations will never get my money. And, probably won't get much of it from other people, either.

For Instance ...

Don't ask me to "sign in" in order to take a look. You want a user name and password before I even buy or join anything? WHY? I'm not going to do it. I'm GONE.

A friend told me not long ago that he couldn't seem to access a site properly. He sent an email asking for a solution. The reply? He was to open his browser options and make changes!

WHAT? He had to set his options in a certain way just for this site? I don't think so! I'd pass. I'm GONE.

Then, we have the sites with code that won't work in all browsers. And, why would that site owner not make sure the site works in all versions? Guess they don't want the business. I'm GONE.

Flash presentations. Forget them. Unless, of course, you're more interested in showing off your artistic abilities than in selling product.

I never wait for a flash presentation to load. Same thing for a page taking 10 minutes to load over-blown graphics. I'm GONE.

Don't talk to me without my permission. And, spare me your pitiful acting and lack of education in delivery. If I wanted to watch an infomercial, I'd watch TV. Give me a button where I can choose to watch/listen, or I'm GONE.

And, of course, a lot of mis-spelled or mis-used words will turn me off immediately. People who don't have sense enough to have their sites proof-read aren't the people I want to do business with. An editor is called for on all web sites - even if it's your brother!

You'd NEVER get a book or article published off-line without an editor proof-reading, and maybe editing, it. Apparently, a lot of people don't even know they are mis-using words. I'm GONE!

Bottom Line ...

Don't tell me what I have to do to have the privilege of viewing your web site. Don't tell me I have to set a browser a certain way - use a particular browser - sign in - wait for your S-L-O-W flash show - or huge graphics to load - listen to stuff I can read faster or overlook your many mistakes. I WON'T.

You make your web site fit whatever browser I want to use - set however I want it set - and don't waste my time. I am the visitor. Do it my way - or you lose!

Why? 'Cause, I might have been your customer ... but, now, I'm GONE!

When "Freebies" Aren’t Free

It seems that "benefits" are not enough to sell your product or service. "They" tell us you must give away "freebies." Instant gratification and all that.

Now rather than get on a roll about what I think about instant gratification - and the babies who demand it - let's just assume that freebies are a necessary evil. Let's think about how to use them ethically.

I've written about jacking up the supposed worth of freebies before, so I won't be redundant here. Now, let's talk about whether your freebies are really free.

First we have something called "shareware." I don't know where this name originated. It seems to mean something that you get to use a portion of until you pay for the full version. Or, they share it with you for a limited amount of time - unless you pay for it. This is NOT free!

Then we have those freebies that I call, "hooks." You are offered something for nothing. But when you start to download or access it - you suddenly find the condition. For instance, you must subscribe to an ezine before you can actually have the freebie. You are paying a price, whether it's money or not. THIS is not free!

In fact, it isn't even honest.

Many ezines give away eBooks in exchange for new subscriptions. Subscribe to the ezine and receive the eBook. Straightforward and honest. The condition for receiving the eBook is right up front.

But when someone offers the "freebie" first, without mention of any condition - THEN demands the subscription before delivering - that's manipulative and dishonest. It's also insulting the intelligence of the visitor.

Please examine your "freebies" - and how they are "given" away. The very basis of professionalism is honesty, ethics and integrity. Don't play cute and think you're fooling your visitors. The word on underhanded methods will spread like wildfire.

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* dr. jl scott is the Founder of Chamber of Commerce - on the Web™ http://www.ChamberofCommerce-ontheWeb.com - and also the publisher of the Online Business Trade Journal™ - the blog that keeps you up to date with online business coming of age. Visit: http://www.OnlineBusinessTradeJournal.com

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