“High-Quality Products” Rant (and Question)

February 6, 2011 , 21 Comments

I need to ask you a question. A very important question. But first, I need to get a rant off of my chest.

Check out the video below to see what I’m talking about:



What’s really important to remember here is that I am not talking about your typical, hypey ClickBank crap products. You know the one’s I’m talking about. Newbie traps, basically. To me, these are a completely different category. What I’m talking about are legitimate products from highly reputable marketers. Not the big Gurus (Frank Kern & Co) either, by the way.

Also, while I gave one concrete example, I’ve seen this general thing over and over again: Products with very little in the way of concrete examples or instructions, very lackluster presentation, next to no structure etc. I personally hate this, but I’m not sure if I’m just being way too picky.

I’d love to hear your own take on this kind of thing: Am I just over-rating the importance of structure, nice membership areas, examples, slide-shows etc? Or are you annoyed by the same kind of things like I am?



About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • i appreciate your honest approach and while you may be able to make tons more money by trying to snag the newbie market and push crap out to them, i think that in the long run it’s better to conduct yourself in an honest manner. i’ve gotten stung many times with those other products and not long after the first sting, i started returning those bad products and letting the authors know how i felt about their antics. to date, not one of them has responded back.

    i will not buy another tool unless it fulfills what you talked about in an earlier video where the author talks about what and how this new tool will help me.

    i’d also like to make a kind exception to your claim about not buying anything off of clickbank though. i purchased A100k thru your link and it was a clickbank product. don’t get me wrong, i definitely think the product was worth while and i’ve been using it now for about 2 weeks – i just wanted to bring this to your attention as it may look as if you’re asking your subscribers to do something other than what you would do.


    • Thanks for your comment!

      You’re right about my comment concerning ClickBank products. The AdSense Blueprint is one of the exceptions of good products being sold there.
      I just meant to say that I no longer treat ClickBank as a marketplace, whether I’m looking for products to buy or products to promote. Reason being that there are, of course, some good products on there, but they are severely outnumbered by garbage. I’d rather avoid going though a pile of dung to find a few gems.
      At the same time, I don’t go there to find products to promote, because even the good ones get far more refunds than when I promote something from any other network. If I’m going to build a site and do SEO and all that, I always prefer a product from a different network.

      Of course, if I find a good product first and then find out it’s on ClickBank, that’s a different story. I guess I’m becoming almost too discriminating against ClickBank, these days.


  • Hey Shane,
    Great video. You are spot on. Before getting into internet marketing, (actually I am an information publisher) I was a teacher for 10 years and then worked at colleges and universities for 15 years as an instructional designer. As a teacher I saw other teachers just phoning in their jobs, doing the bare minimum. It was horrible and the kids suffered. I never went down that road as did my other colleagues. Worse was when these fake teachers received accolades from the administration because they were “team players” or had great social skills outside the classroom. This is similar to what I see in internet marketing. People with good social and marketing skills who may smile in your face but all they really want is your cash. They want you to be their personal ATM machine.

    My first year in internet marketing I purchased over $3,000 worth of info products and courses. I had the money and I was coming in to start a long term business – not to just “make money online”. I wanted to learn so it seemed like the thing to do. Sad to say, I refunded over $2,500 that first year. Thank goodness for Clickbank 60 day refunds. Most of the rest I was stuck with as I couldn’t get a refund. Some of the “gurus” just refused or ignored my email or written requests. Ok, fine, lesson learned.

    I was ASTOUNDED at the worthless tripe that these “internet marketers” were selling. Much of it pure BS or just rehashed from other products. Plagiarism on steroids. No instructional design applied. Huge hype but no substance. No skills building, no reinforcement of the essential ideas and concepts. The products were so bad that I considered giving up. I figured it was all a big scam. I felt like I had fallen in a snake pit.

    Then slowly, I started finding or was lead to the real “good guys”. On reflection it was more of the latter. These were not the gurus with manufactured testimonials and products built on false promises. I remember a course I purchased, in a “bonus” webinar the guru admitted having a contest for the best testimonial submitted for the product I bought. $10 gift card for anyone submitting and prizes of $25, $50 and $100 for those submitting the best testimonials that made it to the sales page. He recommended we do the same with our own “products”. Where is the FTC? Where is decency? So now, I never pay attention to testimonials now. I know most are a lie except on my good guys products. Good guys don’t need testimonials there products and word of mouth are their testimonials.

    The good guys produce great materials that you know they or their staff have spent a long time working on or have taken a long time learning the material they teach. It is all well written, produced and researched. ebooks and videos that are instructionally sound and a proven track record of doing what they teach. Courses filled with case studies and step-by-step procedures to accomplish tasks. Recommendations for solid working tools and how to use them. No products laced with affiliate links and you “must” buy this to be successful.

    The best product I ever bought the good guy teacher stated in the opening paragraph was ” you don’t need to buy anything else” with this product you have everything you need to make a “full time living online”. He was right. The cost of that course – – $37.

    Those products I never refund, never. Whenever one of my good guys produces a new product – I buy it if it is something I need or want to learn. I don’t even think about it as I know it will be good. It always is. I have never been disappointed. My list is small but it is effective and all I need.

    I make very good money on the web more than I did as a teacher and I owe it to a small group of teachers and a small group of courses and products and my willingness to take action on what they taught.

    So I say stay on the “good” team you are on my list. Don’t go to the dark side. That road is crowded. Please take the road less traveled and keep turning out the exceptionally well done products. It has been said that “habits rule the unreflective herd”. Those crap purveyors “may” have a good reputation by the world standards but not with the reflective herd. Keep doing good and you will be rewarded in ways that really count. Thank you.


    • Thanks for your reply, Charles.

      First of all, congratulations on your success. It’s fantastic that you kept going until you found the right way and the right people!

      It’s also interesting that you come from a teaching background. I’ve also been teaching and coaching for years. Did so long before I started my own businesses. That may be one of the reasons I’m so sensitive to badly taught material.


  • I think you are not taking things too hard at all. You have to be really critical these days and especially, if you just start out.
    I would typically avoid any product that does not outlay what it promises in written or visual instruction material. The odd audios/phone/crappy skype interviews are usually hard to understand, of lousy quality and usually people are usually unfamiliar with most of the slang they talk in anyway. Listening and then implementing new things immediately? – Well, how?
    I have noticed that quite a lot of the ultimate gurus and self made experts create lately products in a very lazy manner, based only on NLP sales hype and skillful psychological manipulation: remember the rant about gurus releasing courses with nothing there at all?
    So, I stay either away from this sort of malicious sales hype or get a refund, if I see clear and notice it ain’t work.

    As the comment above says it already, keep up your high standard and you will get something for the long term. Your products and material are exceptional, Shane, and from refreshing quality!


    • Thanks for your comment!
      That always strikes me as well: If it’s just a lazy interview recording, then it’s usually not something you can really take action on.
      I think interviews and off-the-cuff recordings can be great supplemental material in a product, but shouldn’t be the main product.


  • Hi Shane,

    In answer to your question, yes, I have seen and bought products from “highly reputable” marketers like you described and no, I am absolutely not okay with that. Possibly I would have been suckered into thinking it was a good product the first time I bought it because I didn’t know any better but if I ever got such a product now, I’d refund it in a heartbeat.

    I also think one of the reasons why these people continue to get good reviews might be either because of the ‘newbie’ status of the reviewers or the reviewers have something to gain from their testimonials (money, affiliate, etc). Recommendations and testimonials can be very unreliable in these kinds of cases. Come to think of it, the marketer can always shove the bad testimonials down the pile right? Or maybe a marketer used to have a good reputation but then got greedy as time went on. Who knows?

    Fortunately, they aren’t all bad. There are some high reputation marketers who put out products worth investing in. Definitely keep producing only products which you can be proud of with your conscience clear.


    • Thanks for that, Joshua. I thought I might be going crazy, but it’s great to hear that you’ve had the same experience.

      With testimonials, you can definitely do cherry-picking and only show the best ones. I just often wonder how they get positive testimonials at all, when the difference between what’s promised on the sales-page and what’s in the actual product is so big.


  • Hi Shane

    Another truthful and honest example of how you feel

    In my experience this is happening far to much, maybe some of these marketers have huge lists, and become lazy and complacent in dealing with their subscribers, to make a fast buck

    it’s the long term business that will survive, and heres the real truth – out of the hundreds of gurus, email promotions, thousands of products that arrive in your inbox. I can honestly say that the people I trust in this business I can count on one hand

    the products that you give away for free are far better than some of the crap these gurus and marketers are charging $47 or $97 dollars for

    I found your site through Andy Willims newsletter, and I went through a lot of crap before i found his site

    keep up the sterling work, it’s real people like you that give us the flicker of belief that we can make money doing this internet thing




    • Thanks for your comment, Ken!
      It really may be a case of success making lazy. There’s certainly the danger of feeling a bit too good about yourself, once you start seeing lots of money come in. Maybe some people get carried away and start believing that an hour-long recording of themselves thinking out loud really is worth $97…


  • For a long time I actually thought that there was something wrong with me! By that I mean when I bought a product that everyone was raving about and I just could see right thought it for being the pile of garbage that it was.
    The amount of times that I emailed clickbank for refunds is unreal! I was actually concerned that I would get banned from buying through them :)

    So nope you’re the one getting it right Shane without a doubt. The people that rave about the rubbish I doubt are newbies who will sill be in a state of shiny chasing because this is what the so called gurus WANT! If they gave the FULL answers then they wouldn’t make as much money it suits them not to! There is a big circle of these big list owners who target “newbies” it’s only when realisation sets in and the new person starts to get battle hardened they they find the “real” gems in the IM world who they should follow!

    As for the testimonials most of them are you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours type who are hoping to do JV’s with the “gurus” big list as their “reason” for giving the testimonial!!

    Keep up the quality good work :)


    • I’m glad to see that it’s not just me! :)
      Plus, I should probably ask for testimonials more often than I do.


  • I share your incredulity!

    Like Charles (above) I too was a teacher and part of the job is creating info products, giving examples of what you are teaching and hell, being honest.

    I think in I.M. we are still in the “Wild West” stage, most products are crap and the vendors go for quantity over quality.

    Also, we think of info products as being educational but what the crap artists do is think of the drivel they produce as being “entertainment.”

    I am hoping that the FTC will move in on more internet marketers – there’s too much blatent dishonesty hidden away with a “It’s marketing” as if marketing was dishonesty!

    Shane – I do not know who produced the product you are referring to but I would refund it and avoid him in future.


    • I have to agree, it sure feels Wild West’y around here.
      Whether the FTC will really make a move on the industry or not remains to be seen. So far, they seem to be turning a blind eye.


  • I know the product you’re talking about…

    But only now you got me thinking about those weaknesses it has.

    When I listened to those audios, I thought it was a great introduction to email marketing for its price point (you know that if they had created a product with well thought-out step-by-step instruction, case studies etc., it would’ve been crazy to ask only $17 for that) – Both of the guys are great presenters and some of the information was really good and insightful.

    But now… You got me thinking, and I can’t really argue against some of the points you made.


    • Sure, it’s a cheap product, but that’s no excuse for making it bad.
      After all, many marketers also give stuff away for free, have blogs etc. and still put a lot of value into the free content.

      In that particular product, what’s worse is that they promote one of their other list-building products within (i.e. you buy the list-building product and are then told to go buy the other one, to learn about list-building).

      But besides anything else, that’s just one example to illustrate something I’ve found over and over again: products by “good marketers” just being extremely lackluster and created with minimal effort.

      Too many marketers base their products and prices on what they can get away with. If they can get away with throwing together a few audios from other products they’ve done and charging $17, they’ll do that. If they can charge $10.000 for a seminar and people actually show up, they’ll do that. If they can get tons of affiliates for a non-product with 200 upsells and 70% refunds, they’ll do that.

      Nevermind an actual, reasonable exchange of value.

      IMO, it should be about giving real value and getting reasonable value back in return.


  • Shane,

    In a simple answer.. The sole reason i am still om your list is because you do not produce, sell or talk nonsense when you produce a product.

    I value your honesty as i do my own. If i personally come across a programme as bad as you mention.. Well i most certainly wouldn’t be buying from these guys EVER AGAIN, also i most certianly wouldn’t be quiet about it either!! I would be honest with my review and happliy let many others know, so they may save money and time.

    The “Guru” will eventually ruin his own reputation and once damaged it would take some time to recover.. Never for me though! Once bitten…..

    In my opinion, you will outpace these guys in the long run as anybody who has been involved with your products will know they are informative, honest and great value to the customer as they know EXACTLY what they are going to get from the Non Hypey sales page.. They are guaranteed a quality product without any doubts!

    IMO, You should stick to the way you build out your products as these are the products which will stand the test of time and live on for you and your business..

    This is exactly the way i wish to take my business in the long term. I want to be able to present my products in such a way that i am also bringing VALUE to the customers. Many marketers lose sight of this and fail to provide true value to the people who are providing them with a living.

    That’s my small rant over…LOL



    • Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your reply!
      I sure am hoping that it all pays off in the long-run. And I actually don’t doubt it, either. Sometimes it just feels unreal to see marketers being so damn lazy and selling 10x more product than me.


  • Shane,

    Let me first go with the “Mushy Mushy” stuff.

    You Rock!!

    I’ve been attending “Guru” seminars for 20 years and I’ve not
    seen someone as real, genuine, and good as you in a very long time.

    I am in complete agreement with you.

    One of the challenges I personally have with the IM Market is the concept
    of all the marketers trying to jump on the bandwagon at the same time.

    This too often comes at the expense of any real value to their customers.

    An example is the “Hot Launch of the Month”.

    For instance right now it’s Software. You will see many of the Guru’s come
    out with Shady, half complete product just to capatalize on the frenzy in
    the marketplace.

    We live in what I classify as Entrepreneurial Attention Deficit Times.

    We are getting so much information thrown at us at such a fast speed that it
    literally freezes us. It seems as though just when we think we’ve got the
    answers and a way to achieve what it is we are after the NEXT new shiny
    object comes our way and throws us off track.

    I, for one, appreciate what you do here. I look forward to your new products.

    Keep doing what you do.


    P.S. Quick question. Did you ever settle on a “Kajabi” alternative you use? I know you said you went with Nanacast but liked fusionhq. What did you build your latest Focus and Action sales page on? Thanks for any answers


    • Thank you very much!
      Entrepreneurial Attention Deficit sounds about right, yeah. :)

      For my products, I’m using a combination between Digital Access Pass, OfficeAutopilot and Post Affiliate Pro. Still not the perfect solution, but as close to it as I can reasonably expect to get.

      The sales-page was made with OptimizePress.


  • Zaidi Zin says:

    Hi Shane,

    I’m very impressed when i visit your blog at the first time. Its very uniques implementation of your word. At the first time also, I,m do not hesitate to subscribe your blog. Look like i found truth mentor at here :-). Can I be your protege?

    Very2 Newbie From Malaysia.


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