When to Trust Someone...

How do you know when to trust someone?

When talking face to face motive is not always easy to judge, but it is usually a bit easier than it is over the web.

Hucksters & Spammers:
Golden rule #1 for me is if you are so good at what you do there is no reason for you to be wasting your time cold calling me.

If you waste my time in any way: bulk email, cold call, random pop up, etc there is no way in hell I want to do business with you. But beyond that it gets a bit harder:

Sales Hype:

  • Tons of affiliates openly endorse crap. They lie about how good something is to make a commission. From what I have seen the single hardest part of being an affiliate marketer is finding someone who wants to give honest advice.

  • Many testimonials are fake or favors for friends.
  • I could probably at least double my conversions by putting a bit more hype in the sales letter, but I feel guilty being promotional at all. Most of the parts of my sales letter which are hype sounding were wrote by someone else. Some sales letters are litterally 40 pages long.
  • I write a 5 start press release for customers, but usually write a 3 star one for myself.

Selling Things:

  • Credit card fraud is huge. Sometimes not only is the price refunded, but your account can be subject to significant fees.

  • Many people sleezeballs buy products and then ask for a refund within the first minute.
  • One of the people who said my ebook was not a fit for them last June just asked me if they could join my affiliate program. Why would you want to sell something you do not like? Certainly there is at least a little bit of dishonesty hidden somewhere in there. But I suppose that is the standard on the web.
  • Others lie to your credit card processor, saying they never got a product and tried to contact you. Some of which even subscribe to your updates and ask why they are not getting updates after getting refunds.
  • Rarely do people who want a refund give a single reason they are displeased.
  • Multiple thoughtful people have copied my ebook and placed it on their site for free.
  • You can place electronic products or other things in formats to make it harder to steal, at the cost of inconveniencing your legitimate customers. I have not done that yet, but as I grow older and less idealistic it becomes easier to see why so many people do.

Helping Friends:

  • I have helped people promote products and ideas only to later find out that defending them was stupid because their actions were short sighted and driven by greed.

    • Even shittier of them, while I was actively trying to help them, they were planning on turning the project into crap and did not tell me.

    • Instead of creating a legitimate business model they now email spam for a living.
  • Other friends pitch a great idea. You help promote it as a partner and then they do stupid short sighted things to destroy the value.
  • Sometimes you can write a testimonial only to find out that other market forces or a lack of updating can make your testimonial quickly outdated.
  • I tried to lend a ton of help and credibility to a friend and now they make the bulk of their living off blog spam. One of my friends had workers manually comment spamming one of my blogs. Not that blog spamming is entirely wrong, but when it is easily traceable is it entirely stupid.
  • You can help others by creating add on promotional guides for your products only to find them write the same price on their site and write the verbiage in their sales copy as though that bonus is the same or better than your main product. Fairly short sighted IMHO.
  • Some friends later are the first to laugh if you or your site fails to meet their expectations in any way. I have not had this happen to me much, but have seen it over and over again. Not that I am generally friends there, but the IHY forums is usually cutting edge in this category.
  • If you help out charities you get many requests that start with something like "My cousin goes to church once every other week..." Can you give me your business model free?

Community Sites:

  • There are a ton of systems set up to automatically spam social networks. The better the network the harder some of them will try to spam. Some are automated, some are manual.

  • Some of the people who work hard to help others build communities are later burned by the same machines they helped build.
  • It is hard to scale labors of love into profitable business models without offending people.
  • If you have a profitable business model and are opinionated some people like to judge you and use the forums or other community sites to market hate messages. It is far easier to make ludicrous statements over the web. Flame wars are a natural part of broken social software.

Various SEO / SEM Related Problems:

  • Link relationships are based on trust. Most link trade offers are bogus and / or automated.

  • Sometimes even paying for a link in a directory is an issue of trusting the owner not to sleeze out their directory, which is counter the the stream many current directories are swimming.
  • from 10 days ago, many other problems in BadRank & the Ugly Side of SEO

For one reason or another I think many sites and many people are afraid to give people something they can trust. Something they can believe in. From what I have seen Danny Sullivan seems to be one of few unifying forces / people in this industry.

How do you breed trust? How do you know who you can trust? Are there some books I should read? Am I screwing up by reading books and so many web pages? etc etc etc?


On a related note my favorite T shirt designer just put his limited edition shirts online. YIPPIE! Please look through his collection and the first person who comments below that they want one gets one. Comment below and send me an email with your sizing and shipping details.

Published: April 20, 2005 by Aaron Wall in internet


April 20, 2005 - 7:56am

I want! I want! I want!

oh - and Aaron the answer is never to trust someone in business - it's sad but true - there are people you can trust more than others but online handshakes aren't a good way to do business.

April 20, 2005 - 8:00am

Gurtie won.

April 20, 2005 - 11:20am

Trust is in the eye of the email recipient. Email is for me most of the time the first method of contact. If the mail seems genuine I tend to start off with trust and in the back of mind I try to keep my expectations low. If the email smells I ditch it. There is a lot of truth to the statement "Never to trust someone in business". The sad thing is that it generates quite a lot of negative energy if I have to think like that constantly.

Add new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.