Today I was asked by two friends to accompany them to an “Internet Marketing Workshop” to give my opinion on what they taught. This was an all day workshop put on by storesonline.com. Had I known that was the company putting on the workshop I could have done a Google on it and saved us a lot of time but my friends didn’t know who they were so we went and checked it out. We didn’t have anything to do anyway and there was lunch included.
The event was held at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Vancouver. There were over 200 people signed up for this workshop. Unlike me, most of them were here because they attended an earlier 90 minute free workshop and were told that in order to get the full picture they need to spend $20 and attend this full day workshop. I did some mental calculation in my head – 200 people times $20 = $4,000.00. Not bad at all.
Now I don’t have any problems paying $20 for an all day workshop, if the workshop was good. However, this wasn’t really a workshop at all. This was a nicely disguise internet marketing scam. Storesonline.com didn’t teach anything that you can’t find for free with a bit of Googling. What they offer was to set you up with your own online store and help you make money from it. Again, there really isn’t anything wrong with this, if you get value for your money. However, this is not the case.
The cost for this service is $2,500 for them to build you three sites. However, they recommend you start with six sites and as an incentive they’ll give you the next three for “only” $2,200. But wait, there’s more. Since these are eCommerce sites, you’ll need SSL. No problem, they can supply that for “only” $999.00 plus 2.75% cut of credit card sales, plus 25 cents per transaction, plus $25 per month processing fee. And you haven’t even set up your store yet. Assuming you do set up a store you’ll have to pay $150 to cover hosting of your site for one year. After the first year, it’s $24.95 per month. Keep in mind this is per site. So that comes to $900.00 for six sites. Then there is the backlink service, where they will link to your site from 50 other sites. That cost $500.00. They never told us the page rank of the sites linking back to you. All total, the “investment” works out to $7,099 to have an online store that looks like this.
According to Stores Online, that site has sold $120,000 worth of shoes. Ya right. If anyone believes that I have the Loins Gate Bridge for sale. The site has a page rank of two and only six backlinks. Not to mention the broken image links. If it gets more than 100 page views per day I would be shocked. Would you buy anything from a site like that? Do you believe it sold $120K in shoes?
The all day workshop was really nothing more than a high pressure sale scam to get people to sign up for the Stores Online overpriced and no value program. The reason it was all day was so the sale people could have time to work you over. People were asked to fill out their name on a sheet of paper to get personal one on one consultation. You can pretty much guess the one on one was all sales and no consulting.
The main speaker, who doesn’t work for Stores Online, but was actually someone who signed up for the program many years back and claims to be very successful at it. He demoed the Stores Online backend to show how easy it was to use and he outlined some marketing scheme you can use to drive traffic to your site. Only problem was he doesn’t practice what he preached. I loved his section about search engine and his promise to show us how to get to #1 in Google. Of the two examples he showed, one site was on page 8 of Yahoo for its search term. He made it look like it was on page 2 by clicking the page 8 link and hoping no one noticed. The other site he showed was his. On MSN he is ranked number 2 for the search term “2”. He then notes that there are 2,106,428,559 results for “2” and he is number 2! What he doesn’t tell you was that his number 2 spot was a sponsored link. In other words, he has to pay for it.
I did a bit more digging on the speaker’s website. He has a page rank of four, 36 back links (I guess he didn’t pay the $500 for 50 backlinks) and gets an average of 279 visitors per day. I know this because he showed us his stats. The stats came from Sitemeter but he made it sound like it was all part of the Stores Online package.
Let’s step back and take a look. The speaker, considered an amazing success story, has a site that gets less than 300 visitors per day. And he is paying for those visitors because the only way he can get on page one of the search engines is to buy sponsored links. I don’t know about you but if I pay $7,000, the site you create for me better get a hell lot more than 300 visitors per day (for comparison, The TechZone gets 30,000 visitors per day)! I feel sorry for all the people in the workshop. They all have a dream of making money on the net but if they think Stores Online is the answer, they are sadly mistaken.
Then again, what do I know? I’m only a dot com mogul.