I Want To See Higher Standards

Thursday, 26 March 2009 at 2:00 am Pacific USA Time.

People can't afford to waste time and money with sub-standard companies, products, or services. In this economy, that is magnified. Nobody should be sending ANYBODY to any company, product, or service that they don't really, deeply believe is the best choice.

I still see blogs and websites with lots of ads and affiliate links, and they take people to all sorts of things like "systems" for selling on eBay. These systems are pretty much always endorsed by some sort of "expert" or "big PowerSeller" to win your trust. They will take your money, and many of them don't work… especially if they are based in having you get most of all of your inventory from traditional "drop shippers."

I'm reminded of the controversy that swelled around an eBay "expert"
who often recommended products and systems to his readers and fans.
People started complaining that one of the companies he recommended was
a scam. The "expert" finally admitted that he was just recommending
them for the cut he got, and he had never actually checked them out. His readers were pretty angry, and I think they rightly felt like they had just been used for the "expert" to make money off of. Some people thought this was not totally ethical.

Similarly, a company recently told me that they don't really look into their partners. They push business to whomever comes in as the bigger sponsor of their events… but don't really check them out. It sounded like they had no standards other than who paid them. I think this company's clients should get recommendations based on quality companies who are good matches to their needs, not who paid the most in sponsorship money.

And I think that's sometimes true for websites and blogs that have ads and affiliate links. These are sometimes chosen for where money can be made, and not necessarily by who that website thinks you should be doing business with.

Who do you want recommended to you… by someone you trust?

So I am calling for higher standards. I'm calling for an end to "enabling" scammers and low-quality companies, software, and services. Sure, they may offer you a cut. But remember that that cut comes from your fans and readers paying that company money. If nobody hires them, you get nothing. Which means you might be pushing your fans and readers to spend money with someone who may not be good.

If that company, product, or service ends up "disgraced" like my previous example with that "expert," you could end up with "guilt by association." Your fans may want to know why you plugged a scammy service or rip-off e-book. Your readers may want to know how much money you made off of something that was trouble for them. Your readers may want to know why you pushed so hard for them to use a certain online marketplace if there are very few sales happening there. Your fans may have good questions, and those questions are really questions of your credibility.

I'm at the point where when I see ads on a website or blog, I just assume someone paid to be there, and the website probably didn't run any kind of quality check. I don't think they Googled the business to see if there are complaints. I don't think they checked BBB complaints. I assume these are paid ads, and as paid ads, they had NO standards to live up to. The advertised company, product, or service could be great, or could be a waste of time and money, it could be ineffective, or it could even be unethical.

We don't accept ads on our website, in our blog, or on our radio show. The companies who sponsored our events and the people I chose to speak at our events last year were chosen by my trust for them. Anybody who did anything to break that trust wasn't invited back. Companies I don't like, who offered me a lot of money to sponsor those events, were turned down. I didn't want to sell my attendees/fans/readers on something I couldn't totally stand behind.

Those are my standards. They're not everybody's standards. But I think now is a good time to take a look at having higher standards. Relationships are important. Your fans and readers trust you. Every suggestion you make to these people can make or break that trust. So I think websites and "experts" should be more careful about who they recommend. :)

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Categories: Just An Observation

Comments Closed

4 Responses to “I Want To See Higher Standards”

  1. Adrienne says:

    I wish more people took your stand. I admit I was scammed by one of those so called experts. Unfortunately with times being what they are, it only gets worse. I refuse to put any outside advertising on my sites unless it’s a business I have used and had a good experience.

  2. Very interesting, Debbie. How would you feel about a company offering discounts on its products in return for “positive blog coverage”?

  3. Great question, Sue. I prefer the BzzzAgent model. They have their BzzAgents or “street team,” or whatever you want to call them. They get you to check out products and services, and they want you to be vocal and tell friends. It’s what any company would want, and those companies are PAYING for that.
    But they don’t tell you what to say. :) You can LITERALLY try something they send you, HATE it, and tell friends you HATED it. They want you to be honest. You get rewarded with a little points system, and you can turn the points in for prizes. Plus, you got some free stuff to try out whatever this was. But they don’t tell you how to feel about it.
    I used to do the BzzzAgent thing (and might get back into it), and many of the things they sent me were things I ended up disliking. I tried them, I didn’t like them, I told people I didn’t like them, and I reported back to BzzzAgent what buzz I spread. They were fine with it!
    Once someone is rewarding you for a certain type of opinion, and you’re NOT free to say things openly or honestly, I think that would start to slide down my scale.
    Plus, then you get into something that I’ve seen, and I won’t name names, though I could! I have seen people who I know are paid bloggers or are rewarded in $ome way for their promotional relationship with that company. I have then seen those people CRAP on the companies who paid them once the payments stopped. To me, that’s almost blackmail… it’s like, “keep paying me, or I’ll crap on you in my blog or seminars or whatever.” Or maybe they were just being honest about how they felt all along, which means the positive blogging were really lies.
    So I think you have a slippery slope there. I think if someone is rewarded to blog openly and honestly, including bumps and warts and things they didn’t like, then you have honesty. Once you are paying to manipulate the message, then I think you are getting into less-than-honest territory.

  4. Sue, I thought of another issue raised by your question.
    Let’s say you’re the paid blogger, and the company you plug is up a creek or doing the wrong thing. If you’re a journalist, you may want to OUT what they are doing, or talk openly about both sides of an issue.
    If you are the paid “positive” messenger, you might not be at liberty to do that. That might sacrifice any journalistic integrity you had.
    Then here’s another rippling out from that. If you are the voice of positivity when this company is doing something wrong or having problems, people may see you as a sell out.
    And how about the “Can you sleep at night” factor, as I call it. If the company is doing something not so great, you might want to tell people to hold off in hiring them until they work this out. If your job is to tell people good things, and maybe even get them to sign up or stay as customers, then you’ve sent people to what might be a bad company or bad service. Can you sleep at night, getting paid to tell people to sign up with a company who’s not really doing the right thing?
    So again, I know getting paid is nice, and money is really important right now! But to me, integrity is important. People may not agree with some of what I have to say or how I say it, but NOBODY will be able to say that I have sold out. Nobody can say I’m anybody’s puppet. Nobody pays me for what I say, and I pay nobody for what they say.
    Those are my standards.