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Internet Marketing Dirty Tricks

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in The Integrated Marketer

A friend of mine markets nutritional supplements on the Internet. He’s a genius at using keywords, landing pages, blogs, review sites and other visibility tactics.  Even amid the crush of products in hot areas like “resveratrol,” his product names always appear at the top of search rankings.   

But the other day, I wanted to go to his corporate site, not to the different landing pages for his products.  I wasn’t sure of the exact URL so I entered his company name and was astounded at the link that came up. It was a complaint posted at the website of a state consumer affairs agency.  The company name appeared so often in the complaint no wonder it topped the search rankings. 

What was unsettling was the issue cited in the complaint: “The company offers a trial of its supplements but then requires you to cancel. If you don’t cancel, your credit card is charged.”  Well yeah! What marketer hasn’t used that offer? 

The “complaint” was so odd that I wondered if it was phony and had been posted by a competitor.  I searched the name of another company in the same market space.  Unbelievably, the exact same complaint came up for that company — and I mean the same, right down to wording, typos, and punctuation. I searched a third company (the third major player in the market space) and no complaint came up.  But when I did a little prowling around that company’s site, I discovered that they used the same cancel-or-get-charged offer as the other two competitors.  Hmmm.

Now I don’t want to point any fingers, and I know that nutritional supplements are the Wild West of Internet Marketing. But this so-called complaint should concern every marketer.  Here’s why: The complaint was POSTED, not filed. That means that there’s nothing official about it. But a customer may never drill down enough to discover that. Instead, they simply perceive that a complaint was “filed” about the company with an official state agency.  Yikes!  Think about the implications of phony postings all over today’s Web 2.0 world.

When I write about marketing challenges, I usually try to offer solutions.  But other than actively Googling yourself, I’m not sure what to do about phony complaints or phony reviews and ratings posted by competitors.  If you’ve got any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

joleng16 April 26, 2010 at 11:56 am

One Way to pull more inquiries to your advertising? Offer a free special report.


Robin Christopher April 6, 2010 at 5:29 pm

All well and good James, but when I asked Consumer Labs for a copy of the lab report on Biotivia resvertatrol that they had comimissioned, (not being a lab themselves) they declined to provide it on the grounds that manufacturers might try to manipulate them. Given that, how can I trust a “report” from Consumer Labs?


James Betz October 20, 2009 at 5:40 am

The best way to find a reputable resveratrol or any supplement is by checking Consumer Lab ratings and the national Better Business Bureau. None of the companies involved in the recent scams passed the ConsumerLab evaluation. Some suppliers however did have quality issues, such as Life Extension’s product, which contained only 26% of the claimed resveratrol. The top products in terms of potency which did pass the CL tests are Biotivia, Transmax and Bioforte. Buyers should use legitimate on and off line resources, to do their research before jumping on deals that are obviously too good to be true. The disreputable companies offering so-called free trials are still at it in spite of litigation by Oprah and Dr. Mehmet Oz. Best to stay away from any seller with a form of the word resveratrol in their name to avoid the majority of these sites.


Bronzi's Web Gift Store October 19, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Yes this is a scam tactic that is being used trew out the internet. It is making it harder for the rest of us who is honest. I have a store on the internet and people are now very skeptical about buying from me. These scammers who has used their dirty tricks has made it bad for me and anyone else who is honest. But people should research a site and check to see if they have any complaints on the site with the Better Business Buero. My site is clean and my customers are happy. To bad everyone don’t have the same morals.


Trade Show Diva October 19, 2009 at 11:47 am

Excellent article. Also calls into question the integrity of testimonials. Everything should be searched and researched extensively.


Bill Sardi October 19, 2009 at 11:02 am

Stop trying to protect your buddy. These are internet scams, and yes they are widespread. The language that your credit card is going to get billed for product you never ordered is in fine print on an obscure page on these fraudulent websites.


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