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Dr. Stephen's Snake Oil

Dr. Stephen's Snake Oil

March 11, 2002
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" The confusion here seems to lie with blurring the edges between "branding" and "private labeling." "

Adding products to your site as a way to increase and diversify revenue streams through targeted up sells is a fabulous and already popular idea, but is it an effective method for increasing brand recognition? Here are some thoughts on this subject, and more, for your consideration...

It all began early this morning, as I performed my daily ritual of starting my heart to a cup of freshly brewed mocha java. CNN was droning on in the background, and I was checking links and lurking the boards to see what's new. It was then that I came across this thread, and knew that it was one of those discussions that is worthy of a wider audience. With this in mind, the following is a bit of creative copy-n-paste detailing a new product offering from the folks at HealthLabs, and how they believe it will help you increase sales.

Here is a compilation of 'HealthLabs' current posts to this thread:

I am new to the Adult Webmaster world. I come from retailing where it is the norm to have up-sale products and house brands, yet 99% of Adult sites are not adding products to boost profits. I am glad because we are making a big splash with great write-ups. Can anybody help me understand why most are hard pressed to add a very profitable line of natural sex pills and creams to a site to help build a brand and add easy profits?

Every product and service will benefit from Branding. As Webmasters your site name and address is your brand and the content is your product. The challenging part is setting you apart from the thousands of other Websites; of course having superior content is a good start. The next is a marketing push to get and link to as many people as you can, but how do you maximize your marketing dollars so people will remember your site? The answer is branding.

Every Webmaster's goal should be to have a powerful brand that people will remember. This is why companies spend on NASCAR, The Olympics, Super Bowl ads and celebrity endorsements. Everybody is fighting to make their product or service stand out. When a toilet is clogged the first name that comes to my mind is Roto-Rooter, the question that should be on every Webmaster's mind is how do I build my brand? How do I make my site stand out from the crowd?

When you sell your OWN brand on your site you're building your brand. It is like having small Billboards and business card in your customers hands reminding them of your site as you have the repurchase address on your label. "JunkieFreds Big Dick wonder Pill" Or "Freds Herbal V" that pop up on your sites only, and can only be brought on your sites — with big profits to you! Look at the successful players like Via Crème: they are making money off your site; all you're getting is ad revenue. That is a small percentage of the product profits! Make your Own V-Cream and push it on your sites. You make a ton more money. I see a lot of sites without any upsell products. I know that every site would add a ton more easy profits with any Sex pill or cream, and why sell a third party product when it is mostly marketing and impulse!

Look at any Retailer. They all have a House brand because they make more profits! The average cost of a high end Herbal Viagra is around $8.00 to $9.99 and retails for $39.99 to $49.99. for amounts under 1000 bottles. The Big Dick and Tit pills are about the same prices. A diet product will also sell on these sites at about the same costs. Keep in mind you also make money on S&H — it all adds up to a lot of money!

Thanks for the question as I am happy to talk about how easy it is to have your own branded product and add profits to the sites.

###

'Dr. Stephen' Opines
'HealthLabs' makes some solid points in these posts, and they are right, many Webmaster's would see an increase in revenues by offering these products ~ but at what cost?

IMHO the legal risks of prosecution by the FTC or FDA from offering 'Dr. Stephen's Snake Oil' — or any other ingestible or topically applied ointment that MY own lab full of whiz kids did not design (no matter how good it may well be), is not justified by the profits to be made. I'm not talking merely about any claims by users about adverse reactions or a lack of efficacy, but also prosecution due to unsubstantiated or simply exaggerated claims of efficacy in your marketing materials, and believe me, you will be entering an area of serious scrutiny with this undertaking. But my concerns transcend the legal:

Junkiefred hit one of the nails on the head with this question: "What I don't understand is your implication that adding sex pills and creams will help my branding. Isn't that like assuming if I add Coca Cola to my site, that it will help the branding of mydomain.com?" Sure there is a 'branding value' but the value of the brand is tied to the fact that the product becomes, well, your product - and all association with that product leaves what is currently your main product (your adult site) as a secondary concern. What I mean by this, is that for you to be truly successful with this product, it will almost certainly have to become your primary focus.

Remember, branding is really all about developing "name brand recognition." You will not become the "Roto-Rooter" of the sex pill world by slapping your label on a gross of generic pill bottles, then tossing an FPA (Full Page Ad) extolling these hot supplement's virtues up on your site.

Junkiefred and SeeSea were both concerned with the "hassles of inventory management and shipping" and rightfully so, since once again, you are not sending traffic to a sponsor who pays you for sales he makes, you are now the sponsor, and it is your job to inventory (warehouse) your pre-paid stock, package, ship it, and handle customer orders, returns, and an array of other 'retail' issues. Being that these products are probably date and temperature sensitive, they would likely need to be kept in a climate controlled environment, and your inventory would also have to be rotated at certain intervals, costing you in unsold product write-offs due to the (I must assume) limited shelf life.

Sure, you can grab a giant roll of bubble-wrap, a couple gross of suitably sized cardboard shipping boxes, a tape gun and supply of boxing tape, and Pitney-Bowes finest digital postage center, then array your supplies out nicely on a decent size work table to make your 'shipping department.' And don't forget a label printer, the associated sales record / mailing list software, and a 'box' (personal computer) to drive it all.

In fact, I once had such a setup in my video days, and it does not have to be an intimidating process, but it is a process, and commitment, that one should go into with their eyes wide open. Doing this successfully can easily eat up your spare bedroom, garage, or basement. It also puts you in the 'sex pill' business, more so than the adult web business, and while this itself is not necessarily a bad thing on its own, the capitalization required to elevate you from "just another private label" to a properly branded concern whose products are actively and routinely sought after by consumers, is well beyond the vast majority (99.9%) of the target market (webmasters).

Back to Branding
Much of HealthLabs focus centered on the benefits of site branding that selling this product would confer. The confusion here seems to lie with blurring the edges between "branding" and "private labeling." I used to make 3.5" computer diskettes that had "Sony" "3M" and "Nashua" labels on the same OEM made product. These were branded names on private labeled but otherwise generic product. Sure it's the same stuff, but all of these companies went to great lengths to assure prospects that their product was superior to the others.

Are you willing to go to these same lengths to convince surfers that YOUR product is best, and are you also willing and able to fund these efforts? If so, will this really brand your site, or did you just switch businesses?

In my past life, I was a partner in a wholesale business that specialized in Indonesian Imports. We would bring in shipping container loads of furniture, clothing, and fashion accessories from Bali, Jakarta, Surabaya, and beyond; and then sell them to retail boutique shops throughout the Caribbean and Americas. All of the fabric items like dresses, sarongs, and handbags, etc. had our label in them. From the consumer's point of view, we were the manufacturer, but the product, not the label, sold the item. From the retailer's perspective, however, our label was a sign of quality merchandise and a product they knew and trusted, further differentiating our operation from that of any similar competitors. This is true branding, and it made re-sales (although not necessarily 'sales') much easier. If you were the prospect, and wanted help with getting an erection, would you purchase some Viagra® or 'Dr. Stephen's Snake Oil'?

The lesson here is that while your branding efforts may not be sufficient to reach the end user, if you can reach an intermediary (in my import example, the retailer - in the sex pill example, the intermediary would be other Webmasters), then you might have a chance at getting widespread notice (and sales) of your product. The way to do this of course is through a reseller program, in which case you would be where HealthLabs is now, wondering "why most are hard pressed to add a very profitable line of natural sex pills and creams to a site to help build a brand and add easy profits?"

I've come full-circle now, and while my intention was not to "bash" HealthLabs or any similar company for trying to turn a profit, but merely to pose some additional food for thought, I want to leave you with one last thought process on this subject: If you were the prospect, and wanted help with getting an erection, would you purchase some Viagra® or 'Dr. Stephen's Snake Oil'?

That's the power of branding. Do you think that YOU have what it takes to compete with THAT? ~ Stephen


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