This is a recent email we received from the UK marketer Ben Schaffer, we are reproducing it as we are sure Ben won’t mind and it appears a major move against Internet Marketers is afoot. (sticky post)
Internet marketing is changing and we all really need to keep up with it.
There is a great part in Forrest Gump, where he is in charge of a fishing trawler and there is a massive storm. Due to his perserverence, he is able to keep his trawler afloat whilst all of the other trawlers sink.
His business prospers greatly as he is the only fish supplier in town. He then invests in Apple shares when the price is low and makes an absolute fortune.
If you are selling anything in the make money niche or to small businesses then in a very short while, you are either going to have to stop selling (ie. sink) or change with the times.
I don’t claim to have any insider knowledge, but I have seen this coming for a long time and it seems that changes are taking place very quickly and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the whole industry being turned upside down in the immediate future.
So, what’s the problem and how has this come about?
Since almost the start of commerce, the vast majority of industries have been regulated in some way. A simple example of that is that scales and weights were tested by inspectors at the market to make sure that customers were receiving the right amount of produce.
With the introduction of the internet, things became much harder.
Firstly, there was doubt on which country was the governing country.
What happens to someone who lives in country A but has a business registered in country B who hosts their site in country C and sells to people in country D.
Not only that, but there becomes a fine line on what is legal and what is not in certain countries.
Just in the last few years, industries such as pharmacutical drugs and gambling have been totally changed and banned in certain countries.
Previously, for example it was easy for someone in US to order pharmaceutical drugs from another country without a prescription whereas they would have needed one in USA in order to obtain the drugs.
One industry which became bigger than ever before on the internet was the make money online and business opportunities market.
The internet is actually the perfect medium for this as it is easy to reach a huge number of people and easy to both take payment and deliver the goods within seconds.
However, as is extremely predictable, there are many products in the industry which are scams and no-one has any hope of being successful with them.
There are also many products which would be illegal offline, but people were taking advantage of online anonymity in order to practice them.
2. Pyramid scheme
A year or so ago, the FTC which is kind of the US governing body for businesses started putting certain guideline into place about what you could and couldn’t say when you were selling something.
1. Only use genuine testimonials
2. Say what the typical results are
However, due to the huge mass of sites, it is almost impossible to govern them. And although they have gone after certain major players, there is still a huge amount still out there.
In the past year alone, we have seen certain companies clamp down on who can do business with them.
Plimus has basically banned anything to do with online marketing or making money.
Clickbank has become far stricter about what products they will sell.
Even Paypal has started shutting down accounts for questionable products. Try doing a ‘successful’ WSO with them and you will see what I mean…
However, over the last week rumors have started to surface about what the next step is.
And I am almost certain that these rumors are true.
The first is that Clickbank are certainly going to stop processing make money online products.
The second is that the FTC are start going to target the major branches of the industry to make sure that they clean up their act or be penalised.
Who are the major branches?
a. Hosting companies
b. Credit card processors
c. Advertising networks eg. Adwords, Facebook etc.
What this means in practice, is that one day soon your hosting company will probably turn around to you and tell you that you can no longer host with them unless you take down certain sites or change them.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually say bye bye to you even without a warning.
Clickbank will also say bye bye if they feel that your product does not fit in with their new guidelines which will probably be pretty wide. ie. Mention money on your salespage and you are out.
Paypal and other credit card processors will also close down your account if it fits within a certain risk level.
So, what kind of products fit within these kind of guidelines?
a. Business in a box
b. How to make money online
Now, some of these products may be totally genuine and help the end user.
I am pretty sure though that that won’t matter and the fact that they fit in within that guideline will stop them from being able to be sold.
Remember, the FTC are NOT going after the individual retailers so won’t judge you individually. They are going to go after the larger service providers who are then going to have to decide whether to go through each of your products or just flag you as a whole.
So, if you are selling internet marketing products, what is the solution?
1. Stop selling Make Money Online products. Get rid of any ‘illegal’ keywords from the name of your product. eg. cash, money, profit, auto, method, instant etc. I am assuming that as soon as you process a payment using one of these words it will raise a red flag.
2. Change your salesletters and marketing materials so instead of focussing on making money, it focuses on the tools which get you there. So, for example instead of saying, do this and you will make money, change that to: do this linkbuilding technique and you will increase your search engine rankings.
3. Focus more on other niches outside of make money and also increase your focus on other ways to make money such as AdSense etc.
This solution I am giving actually goes against all normal copywriting rules where you are supposed to highlight the end result rather than the steps to get there.
But I am pretty sure that the choice will no longer be there for you.
The way I am thinking about it, is that I now need to start thinking of myself as a service provider. It is a major shift in thinking, but also the only way that I can carry on selling my products online.
And is it also going to affect people outside of the US? Definitely yes. Probably not from an individual legal standpoint as it is doubtful that you will be prosecuted. However, you won’t be able to actually use any payment processor or major hosting company so ultimately it will be hard if not impossible to do business.
Unless you enjoy waiting to receive checks through the mail of course…
So, just to finish off I want to examine if it is a ‘good’ thing or not.
Where it is not a good thing, is that it will be a blanket ruling on all products whether you have the best product in the world or the biggest scams in the world.
It will definitely affect my own business negatively in the short term as well as many other thousands out there. I am going to have to pull some of my bestselling products simply because they show people how to make money online.
On the positive side, I am pretty sure that it will increase consumer confidence and that customers will not get burnt as much which means that in the long term, businesses that offer quality products that are not straight ‘make money’ based will prosper.
What do you think is the future?
Keeping it real in an unreal world,