Selling Non-Existant Products…

December 18, 2010 , 6 Comments

This post is a rant. It’s a rant about one of those things that are going on in Internet marketing that are all kinds of bad, but everybody does it because they’re all lazy and greedy and they can get away with it. What I’m talking about in this particular case is people selling products that don’t exist yet. As a customer, that’s just a slap in the face, when you are presented with a completely empty members-area, after you’ve handed over substantial amounts of your hard-earned cash.

But, instead of only complaining about it, I also offer some suggestions of what to do instead.

Check out the video below:

Let me know what you think, in the comments!



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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  • Hey Shane,

    A very worthwhile video on lazy and greedy marketers and their despiteful get (them and only them!) rich quick type of products and services – which of course they most often sell to those in the IM Niche who are themselves lazy and greedy…but that´s another topic :-)

    Anyway, I was wondering whether you had any particular product of Frank Kern in mind that made you mention him in your rant? I´ve bought just one of his products which was my initiation for my own marketing endeavours. A high ticket item of course but until today I still consider it being of a high value too. Since late 2008 I´ve been following Frank Kern´s marketing and I just can´t recall anything he sold where there was no product ready.

    And yes, as an avid student of IM I´ve bought stuff that wasn´t worth a single line of hype from the sales funnel process.

    I back you up completely in your genuine effort to call out those deceivers and greedy rip-off artists who give our industry a bad name.

    This late summer of 2010 just to give an example of which there are way too many I was completely stunned how someone who already had achieved some acclaimed success in our industry with his former products (Google Sniper e.g.) could be so short-sighted as George Brown when he co-prduced and sold Traffic Siphon -not the magic pill and super secret they sold it for but just a rather lame and mediocre course on backlinks. Reputation gone forever, G.B.

    Talk soon



    • Hey Mirko,

      Thanks for your comment!
      I have not bought any Frank Kern products, but I’ve been told that his “List Control” product was empty upon launch. If I recall correctly, I even read a complaint specifically about how long it took until content really started coming in.
      I generally don’t buy any guru-products, but I often get e-mails from my readers who do, so my complaining and finger-pointing is a little more than just speculation. :)

      And I agree that Mr. Brown is, unfortunately, a good example of someone who apparently doesn’t care in the least, about his customers…


  • You got so mad, that I saw a vein pop out of your head at one point.

    I, for one, hope that every launch from here on in contains an empty product. I can’t help it – an angry Shane is just…entertaining.

    I definitely saw some charisma coming through – you ought to watch that :D

    Alright, enough jokes/piss taking/trying to be funny (delete as appropriate).

    My actual response is:

    I agree.


    • Haha, yeah… I don’t think you have to worry too much about every guru and guru-wannabe suddenly changing their ways because of a rant of mine.

      And purely in terms of traffic generation, making ranty videos and posts is a pretty good thing, I think. Certainly, my last rant video is one of the most viewed on my YT channel.


  • Hi Shane,

    Just wanted to make a comment about not copying big guns in the IM industry. I don’t know about Frank Kern or his products, but I think that statement needs to be clarified a bit.

    I have bought a couple of high end products and depending on how it is marketed, the ‘non-existent’ product is actually intentional. Why? Because instead of creating products so to speak, they are creating ‘events’. However, there is also a very clear outline of what’s going to happen in terms of the number of teaching modules to expect as well as the release schedule.

    There’s probably a lot to say about how to design a course and so on, but I think generally there are two main types I have encountered. The first is the ‘drip-feed’ model where the modules actually exist but are intentionally released in chunks for effective learning.

    The other is what I know as ‘pre-selling’ where the content hasn’t actually been created yet. There are incredible advantages to this and if done correctly, it actually creates a win win situation for the seller and buyer. In fact, there are real world instances outside IM where we do this without a second thought. Unfortunately, there are cases where pre-selling is not done well (ie no clear outline of what to expect in terms of content, scheduling, benefits, etc) which of course results in massive refunds, loss of reputation and rants like this. ;)

    So I guess all I’m trying to say (after the long ramble) is that to me the issue is not really selling the non-existent product because there are scenarios where it is not only relevant but perhaps even necessary, but rather the marketing method by which it is done (which I know you do mention about at the end of the video, Shane) and the sloppy course design.

    Hope that makes sense.



    • Hi Joshua, yeah that makes a lot of sense. I agree that it can be done well.
      I think the biggest issue is if the product feels unfinished. It’s okay if it feels like it’s ready and waiting, but not if it feels like the creators just haven’t gotten around to it yet and don’t really care that much, either.


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