OK… I just can’t help it.

I wrote a post about the new FTC Rules and Guidelines from an affiliate marketer’s point of view today. I tried to give my take on it in a professional manner. This turned out to be more difficult than I had anticipated. I couldn’t focus on the task at hand because my mind kept wandering to the real root problem and why these rules had to be created in the first place.

In short, a rant was forming in my mind the whole time and I just couldn’t get rid of it. So after much struggling to finish the first article, here’s what I really wanted to say! 🙂

I don’t apologize for being an affiliate marketer. As a matter of fact, I’m proud to be an Affiliate Marketer. It’s a tough business that takes honest work and continuous learning. Anyone that tells you otherwise is lying.

If the FTC is listening, here’s my MO when affiliate marketing.

I don’t promote or review any product I haven’t bought and/or used myself. This isn’t to say that I don’t get freebies from time to time in the form of Joint Venture offers. On occasion, marketers send me a link to their product for free in hopes that I’ll review or promote it. Guess what? Sometimes, if the product is truly has value and can help my readers, I do!

However, 99% of the time I review and/or promote only products that I have bought and USED to generate income. In other words, I do not under any circumstances promote something that I haven’t tried and at least had some success with. What I mean by “some success” is at least getting my purchase price back plus a couple hundred percent for my time.

But this really isn’t even enough for me to start promoting a product or course in Internet Marketing. There has to be true value in the form of online marketing education mixed in there somewhere. In other words, as the old proverb goes, teaching someone to fish instead of giving them a fish.

I market ethically. I only promote products, systems, and courses that I believe in.

The only way to be truly successful in online marketing is to learn continuously. I have purchased thousands of dollars worth of Internet Marketing courses, instructional videos, scripts, and all manner of learning tools regarding IM.

Have I been burnt? Of course. Am I going to “run to mama” and report these unscrupulous marketers to the FTC? No. To me it’s all about taking personal responsibility. But I guess in this day and age personal responsibility is an outdated ideal.

It could be my age… it could be the way I was raised. It could be as simple as getting burned when I was a young boy by the X-Ray glasses and Amazing Sea-Monkeys that I bought from the back of a comic book. I couldn’t wait to run home and look at the amazing cities that my sea-monkeys (brine shrimp) had built while I was at school looking through my magic glasses seeing right through my second grade teacher’s clothes. (Hey, she was gorgeous and only 24!) That’s a disappointing lesson that stuck with me for life. 🙂

Back then we didn’t have an easy way to discover whether these products were real or not unless we had a friend who was as stupid as us that had already purchased them. Of course, half the time they wouldn’t admit to buying them and would actually encourage us to buy because they didn’t want to be the only one in the “I’m so Stupid” club.

Now we have the Internet.

The easiest way not to get burnt when deciding to purchase any type of “make money” product or system is to do a little research. How tough is that? Take the product name and add “scam” to it in a Google search and see what you come up with. Hit the marketing forums and see what others (preferably whom have already purchased it) are saying about it. Then do a search on the Author’s name and see if they are respected in the associated community. How tough is that?

In my opinion, anyone who doesn’t do at least a little due diligence is asking for what they get. Anyone who believes that they can get rich by pushing a button should know better. The fact that we have to police the Internet and protect people from their own stupidity is appalling to me. Do we, as a society, truly believe that most people are so stupid that they can’t even protect themselves from obviously hyped advertising? Are we, as taxpayers, required to protect lazy people from themselves?

Maybe this isn’t as much about protecting consumers as it is about generating revenue. Sure this is a cynical view, but it definitely wouldn’t be the first time rules were put into place with this, if not direct, certainly indirect goal.

So what are these new rules going to accomplish? Now, as affiliate marketers we are required to disclose that we make money if the person buys from our links. Also, if we display testimonials, we have to also include what typical results are.

I’ll tell you right now what typical results are for any Internet Marketing product. Over 90% of the people that buy a product or system for making money on the Internet will do absolutely nothing with it. They won’t even read it! 4-5% of the people buying the same exact product will make their money back and then some. 1-2% will take the system, work it as instructed, add some of their own ideas and experience, and make a fortune!

Nothing is stopping those 90+% from doing the same thing as the 1-2% except for laziness, lack of self discipline, lack of confidence, or lack of time. (There are obviously other reasons but these are the main roadblocks.) Should the advertiser be fined because of these reasons? Or should the purchaser take responsibility for their purchase and deal with it?

Here is some new sales copy that adheres to the new FTC guidelines for your promotions… feel free to incorporate it into your sales pages. 🙂

Please place this disclaimer under each of your testimonials that show excellent results:
The testimonial above was submitted by a person that can follow directions, is not an idiot, has a work ethic, is a self-motivator, is not lazy, has self-confidence, and because of these traits will no doubt succeed beyond your wildest dreams. You on the other hand, will probably not do anything and expect everything. You probably won’t make a cent because you are lazy and worthless like 95% of everyone else that purchases this product. Good luck! 🙂

Then watch the sales roll in!!! 🙂

Seriously though, take a look at my other (more professional) post for some tips that may actually help you stay in compliance and still be able to market effectively.

I’m sorry if this post seems harsh towards Internet Marketing newbies. I do remember how hard it was to learn all the things I needed to learn to get started. I remember how long it took me to learn these things. Fact is, I would not be where I am today without each and every lesson I learned along the way. I still learn something every day. I don’t see how anyone can protect anyone else from learning the hard way if that’s the path they choose. I know no one can protect me from learning things the hard way… I just won’t have it! 🙂

In summary, and keeping with the rant theme, these new rules will only keep the honest marketers honest. The unethical marketers will just get sneakier and still make a bundle. Just like the email spammers. As a matter of fact, they may make a whole lot more revenue than the rest of us since they won’t include disclosures and typical results in their pages, blogs, and advertisements. This will, in effect, make our sales copy look unexciting, even undesirable, by comparison.

Woo hoo! Score another victory for the unethical marketers at the expense of the ethical marketers. Nice job FTC!

Now my disclaimer… do I really believe everything I wrote above? Yes and no. There is much truth in things I said but I tend to always look for the silver lining in each cloud. This whole “FTC New Guidelines” issue, I believe, has been blown way out of proportion. Sure they are cracking down, but in many cases this is a good thing. All one has to do is to run across a fake blog or two when doing real research to see that this is a good idea.

I’m sure Google thinks it’s a good idea as well. After all they only want to give their searchers a good experience. Help Google do that and Google will help you. The Internet Marketing “make money on the Internet” niche already has a shady reputation due to wild claims and questionable “proof of earnings”. Be honest with people and you will be rewarded long term. And isn’t that why were doing this to begin with?

Thanks for reading my rant. However, lest you think I’m a totally negative person, please read my other (more professional) post concerning these new FTC rules. I do outline how I am going to adhere to the new rules while, hopefully, having as little impact on my businesses as possible. Here’s the link: Click Here

To our continuing success!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 at 7:18 am and is filed under FTC Rules and Guidelines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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