I had a very disturbing experience yesterday. And it got me to thinking about the state of things on the internet, in particular, marketing on the internet.
And I boiled my concerns down to one basic question:
Is this the Internet that you want?
We think about the internet as being some intricate web of information and entertainment that is out there. But we need to take a step back and realize one very important fact.
We are the internet.
More than any other medium in recent history, individuals like you and me have a say in what goes on in here. We write the news. We create the stories. We build the relationships.
So if the internet is a sorry mess, who do we blame for that? Google? Microsoft? Q?
A Bitter Taste
The experience I referred to in my opening paragraph was a bit disconcerting. It was a site the promised traffic. And we all know that traffic is the life blood of earning a living online. It was recommended by someone who’s list I’ve been on for a long time. Someone who I have a certain level of trust in. Well, had might be a more appropriate way to phrase that.
So I signed up, even though they wanted a phone number. What the heck for? I hate to admit it, but 999-999-9999 is not really my phone number 8=)
Immediately I’m presented with a garishly coloured site. Tiny text crammed everywhere. A chat screen in the middle and two live video feeds — one of which is someone calling out my name. “Watch the video and then come back here” they said.
Very off putting to say the least. I watched the sales presentation for their upgrade. Apparently this presentation was a recording of one of the top guys, but not the founder. I found the presentation to be okay. I felt comfortable with the guy presenting.
But afterwards, the video calling out my name, trying to get me to sign up. I haven’t even seen what the site is about and already they’re pestering me to upgrade. When I was balking at jumping on this fantastic offer, the founder himself (in another video window) jumped in to talk to me.
Things went downhill pretty fast from there. Apparently I’m a loser because I won’t jump in with both feet simply because he says so! Looking around, doing some due diligence on the site (which turned up bad when I did do it) makes me a loser. I don’t know if these guys are a scam (I doubt it) but they are definitely overly hyped. And their tactics could use a breath mint.
Well, I’m pretty happy being a loser if that’s what he thinks I am. But unfortunately, because of sites like this, we’re all losers. We lose the trust of people out there because of charlatans and high pressure hucksters.
I’ve seen this type of sales pressure in the offline world before. Usually with scams masquerading as the next big MLM opportunity.
What Can We Do?
That’s the next question. I hope that you are with me in wanting to have an internet that you’d be proud to have your kids visit. But the next step is how do we do it?
I don’t have any quick fixes or pat answers for you. I’m hoping that we can all dig together and come up with some ideas. Here are some general ones to think on:
- Don’t be part of the problem. Make sure you don’t act dishonestly and don’t promote anyone who does.
- Educate your friends and family. Help them to know what a scam looks like. Help them to learn how to filter out the hype. Show them where to find marketers of integrity.
- Spread the message. Write blog posts about integrity. Teach people how to use scarcity without lying about it. Help them understand the power of building and maintaining trust.
Fight the Bad
Do we need a way to call the bad guys out on the carpet? I don’t know if that has any affect. There are several sites that have reviews of the offending site, pointing out their flaws. But people are still promoting and signing up to it.
One thing I like to do is send a private email to someone when the do something I think hurts their integrity. I don’t do it every time and many will either ignore you or attack you (I’ve experienced both). But some will realize you’re only trying to help them. And they may even change their tactics.
Support the Good
One way that I have found to support good marketers is through IMTrustWorthy. I don’t know if it will be the answer to the problems of trust and integrity, but it is a step in the right direction.
Becoming a member gives you the right to put a badge on your site, like the one you see in my sidebar (check out the site by clicking my badge if you’re interested in learning more). But it isn’t just a badge. It actually links back to my profile on the site. And other members of the site have the right to rate me and even make comments. It’s kind of like StumbleUpon for marketers.
I’m sure that there will be imitators and those that put up fake badges. And there is always the risk that the site will be gamed by unscrupulous marketers. But it is a start.
Another way that we can support one another is to speak up for one another. If you see someone doing something impressive, tweet it, plus it, blog about it.
So here’s a challenge. How are you making the web a better place? How are you setting the example of an integrity marketer?
Share your story in the comments or write a post at your blog and let me know. I’ll add links to this post as they come in.