It’s rare to read a blog that’s actually informative in this age of rehashed dribble and top ten lists. So props to Jay Weintraub for posting an excellent summary of the notorious flog. This guy knows his stuff.
Anyway, the flog. The fake blog. The “How I Lost 50 lbs Using XXX & Made a Website So You Could Read About It” method of promotion. It’s been around for a while and you’ve probably seen various adaptions of it.
I’ve often said that creating a convincing testimonial is one of the very best ways of persuading somebody to buy a product. Creating a fictional story of success is a brilliant catch to the reader and it’s a proven performer in the market – whether it clashes with your advertising principles or not.
Recently my attention’s been drawn to a number of sketchy lawsuits and legal complaints. First we had the threat of legal action against a bunch of fake acai blogs, and then we had the Texas GA taking non too kindly to a Google offer (which was pretty much a scam by the sounds of it). I’m so confident as to say that jack shit will happen to the affiliates who were involved in these altercations, but that’s not to say that we shouldn’t start thinking about the way that we’re presenting our offers.
I think a lot of the criticism directed at flogs is justified. From a purely moral perspective, it’s hard not to feel just a little bit scummy about endorsing a product that’s as likely to result in miracle weight loss as a Shoemoney breakfast.
I think the key to the continued success of the flog is to treat it as a product recommendation rather than a product testimonial. And of course, to flood that shit in disclaimers.
If you create a fictional story explaining how Mr. X lost XXX lbs using Product X, you’re positioning yourself as a lame duck for the day that the FTC decides to clamp down on false advertising. You’re misleading people. Plain and simple.
If, however, you write a blog by Mr. X, who lost XXX lbs, and wants to help others do the same, AND happens to have heard good things about Product X – it’s a recommendation rather than a testimonial. No worse than any of the thousands of fake review sites out there, and no worse than an infomercial on Channel 5 at 6am.
For a dieting flog, you can still have your personal success story of how Mr. X lost XXX lbs with a bunch of supplements he ordered online. Well, he doesn’t know if that offer is still around anymore but he’s heard that THIS one is even better…
Now, there’s still a degree of lying involved. But fundamentally, you haven’t directly implied that you have any experience of the product that the customer is going to be buying. There’s a fictional story attached, but it’s far too flimsy for serious legal action to be taken. What are they going to pin it on? The fact that you didn’t use to be a fatty?
Hey, if you’re absolutely determined to stay within the letter of the law. Go out and find a former fatty, get them to put their name to your blog, and go nuts.
As with most forms of marketing, there’ll always be some idiots who abuse the system. You’ll get people who don’t stop at false advertising. They’ll steal your berries from you, and your colon kit too.
Since I took up affiliate marketing full-time, I’ve become extremely cautious of the pages I’m sending traffic to. If I’m going to be making five figures from a fake blog, I want to be extra careful that I’m keeping it on the right side of the law. That means I’ve started crafting my sites in a way that they’re persuasive without ever falsely promoting a product. Still full of bullshit, yes. But the beach whale who stocked up on acai pills because of my site can’t come back to me and ask why her bacon drapes are still in tact. It was her choice to start popping them.
I think a lot of guys out there are simply misinformed. Can you really blame so many affiliates from publishing such misleading flogs, when the number one piece of advice for new affiliates is to “go look at existing sites”?
That’s exactly what I did when I started. I saw a bunch of flogs and started marketing aggressively in the same way.
Even when I talk to my affiliate managers, they regularly tell me that Offer XXXX would work great with a flog or a fake newspaper page. I’m actively encouraged to go out and build these things – and I invariably do. The flog is one of the best converting methods of promoting an offer. It doesn’t have to be a breach of advertising standards if you get your shit together and think about what you’re putting online.
Truth be told, whether it belongs here or not, the flog is going to be a prominent part of online marketing for a long time to come. As long as people are stupid enough to believe whatever they read.