With the recent release of a new mailer script, there have been multiple launches with nothing more than the same script and different graphics.
Are these launches good or bad for the community as a whole? Well, that’s the million dollar question isn’t it? Read on and form your own opinion.
There’s some thought provoking content below so get comfortable, grab yourself cup of coffee, and free yourself from distractions before you start reading.
If you spend any time in forums, you have probably noticed some tension going on between established admins and new admins launching mailers. Some of these conversations have become heated over the past few months and a good portion of them happen because of a big misunderstanding.
To new admins trying to make their mark in this community, these conversation might look like criticism and established admins trying to hold down new ones. It isn’t… it’s actually some well respected people trying to help new folks get out of the race to the bottom and into the club.
Many who read this may not know what I’m referencing by the “race to the bottom” or the “club” so I’ll explain.
Many new admins believe that taking a cookie cutter script and adding some new graphics is enough to them started and to some degree they are correct. You can spend very little to be up and running with your very own mailer in just a matter of days. However, does that mean you are going to be successful and get the support of other admins and the community to grow? Absolutely not! You have to earn that by NOT participating in the “race to the bottom.”
What is the “race to the bottom” anyway?
Simply put, if you don’t have an original idea or make modifications to your script that make you stand out from the crowd, the only way you can compete is to drop your price and give away more. If you follow the new launches, you already see this going on. The price keeps getting lower and what is being given away keeps going up. This eventually leads to one inevitable place… destruction!
You see, these sites work very much like an economy. Too much of one thing and not enough of another and they will die out.. and do. This is known as the race to the bottom.
So what is this “club” thing?
In some forums, is has been suggested that there is a group of good ol’ boys that are a bunch of elitist trying to hold the little guy/gal down. I must admin, to a new admin, it can certainly look that way… but here’s a secret you may not know.
The club isn’t a club at all. There isn’t some secret formal initiation that takes place where we all decide if somebody is in or out. You become a member of the club when you build something that would scare the crap out of anybody else because it’s creative, original, and risky. You become a club member when you try something that could fail miserably and make you look like an idiot. In essence, it’s a “CLUB OF MUTUAL RESPECT” that just happens.
Each one of the people you might consider a club member has done just that and succeeded. I can’t tell how many times I’ve seen an original site launch that makes me go, “wow, that took some guts.” Does that mean you are automatically respected and in the club by taking risks? Not at all, club membership is very hard to gain and much easier to lose. It also creates an expectation with the market, and your admins peers, to maintain the same quality with any follow up launches. On top of that, if you don’t operate with solid business practices that builds trust, you are going to be “out” regardless of your creativity. Not so easy to be in the club huh?
So, now that you know the difference between the “race to the bottom” and the “club” crowd, how does a new admin get started if they have a limited budget and lack the resources needed to modify their scripts?
Answer: Do what I did when I first got started. I came from the Text Ad Exchange community and used a cookie cutter script just like many do now. However, it didn’t take me long to figure out I didn’t want to be doing what everybody else was doing because I saw how they were trying to compete with each other. Guess how? Their prices were dropping and they giving away more to out-do each other. Sound familiar? That was not a place I wanted to be so I sit down and wrote out a business plan with primary and secondary objectives.
Before you can write out an effective business plan, you must first observe and analyze what is going on in the marketplace. So many people skip this step because it is much easier to just plug in some graphics, put something out there, and hope for the best.
I spent two months of analysis and filled up two notebooks full of notes. (I know, old school actually using a pen and paper.. lol)
So, after that, I was ready to get started or so I thought but I didn’t know any better which is sometimes useful since obstacles only exists if you acknowledge them. Read that again and really absorb that statement.
Since I didn’t know anybody, my first objective was to build a network and rub elbows with successful people. My definition of success was pretty low in those days so if you made ANY MONEY online, you were successful in my eyes. I also noticed that website admins were some of the most active people online so meeting them became my primary objective.
I also observed that some of the most successful and sought after sites were original ideas or customized scripts. In my analysis, I determined the reason behind this was just human nature. “That which is rare is often coveted.” My secondary objective was build something original since I didn’t have the resources or money to customize a script.
Given those two objectives, I put my creativity hat on and came up with a really bad but original idea.
TextAdBartering was the website I built. The concept was simple, I added an area where partner Text Ad Exchanges were located and created a free upgraded membership level exclusively for the website owners that participated. If my members upgraded on one of the participating partner sites, I comped them an upgrade on my site for free. (Hence, the bartering name)
Stupid concept right? How was I expecting to make money doing that? Answer… I wasn’t, as making money was not my primary objective, networking with other admins was. In my mind, putting the interest of those that I wanted to network with before my own interest was a good way to do that. The idea was original as well so I accomplished both my primary and secondary objectives with this site.
Did it work? By my own definition at the time… yes, it did. As you will see from the screenshot below, 29 admins participated in my network. Now you might consider that a failure by your own standards or those of the market today, but for a guy that had absolutely 0 connections at the time, I felt on top of the world! I also met Jaye Pause taking that approach which included Paul Coonan at a later date and the rest is history.
Here’s a screenshot of Text Ad Bartering which can also be located in the wayback machine since that site doesn’t exist anymore. After State-Of-The-Art-Mailer took off, I was unable to manage it and wasn’t willing to sell something that had my name on it…. but that’s a different conversation altogether.
The bottom-line is this and it really is this simple:
1) Choose the easier and safer path by just plugging in some graphics to a script that has already been tested. It’s less painful to do but keep in mind, it’s also less desired by the marketplace and it becomes a commodity pretty soon that loses it’s value.
2) Put the work in up-front and take the time to build a business plan with some real thought behind it. I’m going to be honest, it’s painful to do and you will probably have some sleepless nights taking such risks and there is no guarantee you will come out on the other side successful. It could be the end of you and that’s just being honest. However, if you make through the fire, the rewards on the other side are as sweet as honey.
I’m living proof that you don’t need to build a custom script to be original. While Text Ad Bartering might not look like much, the concept served it’s purpose and met my goals.
I now own one of the largest and most active mailers which has netted multiple six figures for over 3 years now… State-Of-The-Art-Mailer.
You can make it too if you have what it takes and are willing to do what others are not. You should also take comfort in knowing that there are other “Club” members out there just waiting to greet a new member. Why? Cause they know the hell you went through to get there and what it takes to stay. A bonding and level of respect is born of such things that can’t be broken.
To Your Success!
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