Derek Gehl’s Internet Marketing Center – An Unbiased Review
Corey Rudl was the founder and original owner of the Internet Marketing Center. He started by publishing his own book called Car Secrets Revealed. When a friend suggested he put it up on the Internet, he responded, "What's the Internet?"
Eventually, through trial and error Rudl built his sales to phenomenal levels, and decided it was time to begin selling courses based on the techniques he had developed over the years. The Internet Marketing Center was born.
By the year 2005 it had grown to over $40 Million/year.
Over the past few years Rudl had taken on a friend as a sidekick, Derek Gehl, who had marketing experience of his own. The two worked side by side.
Then in June 2005, about the same time I was forming this website, a tragedy took place when Corey Rudl perished in a car accident. Derek Gehl soon took the helm and over the remainder of the year continued to grow the company to about $57 Million.
I've been fortunate to have developed a close working relationship with some of the staff, though I haven't corresponded with Derek Gehl himself, and they have been so kind as to allow me to view nearly all the products in order to present my reviews to you.
According to Alexa, the Internet Marketing Center's marketingtips.com comes in second only to Ken Evoy's Sitesell.com among the big Internet marketing guru's sites. That's an amazing feat.
On videos, Derek Gehl certainly came off as the less slick speaker than his predecessor Corey Rudl, and was often interrupted and corrected by Corey Rudl. He never had quite the delivery Corey had. However, over time Gehl has come into his own as a powerful presenter in his own right.
The IMC's strongest areas of teaching are
· Email marketing
· Automation of your business
· Aggressive testing
Email marketing is primary to Rudl's methods. By "email marketing' he isn't talking about spamming, but mainly about building a huge email list via newsletter (ezine) offerings, and permission-based email advertising. However, in his earlier versions of his "Insider Secrets" course he came under fire for showing readers how to spam. That has since been cleaned up.
Rudl's emphasis on automation is a point well taken. He acknowledges that Internet marketing simply isn't an area where you can work an hour or two a day and sit on the beach the rest of the time. He knows your time will be at a premium, and he encourages you to automate as many things as possible through autoresponder, automated shopping carts and auto e-delivery of products where possible. He provides an onslaught of software for this purpose - which may well be part of the reason for his emphasis on automation -- to sell you his software.
Aggressive testing was at the heart of Rudl's own success, and he makes no bones about telling you the importance of doing the same. While pretty much everybody tells you the importance of testing, Rudl made it the focus of everything. The biggest problem with the way most gurus tell you to test, is that they encourage you to try one thing (say a headline) for a time, then try another, and see if your bottom line changes. But there is an inherent flaw in this method, which Rudl recognized. Suppose between week 1 and week 2 a magazine article features my site or product (I should be so lucky). They are sending pre-filtered traffic to my website, and my conversion rate is likely to be better in week 2. My headline may actually be hurting me, not helping, for all I know.
Rudl's answer to this was to use testing software that concurrently and randomly directs traffic to two different views of the site, and allows you to compare the conversion rate at the same span of time. That is much more scientific.
Unfortunately, the IMC has no products specifically devoted to teaching testing techniques nor any software for the purpose. This is a big gap in their offerings.
One last very positive note is the newsletter - particularly the earlier ones. Nearly all the teaching the company did was echoed in the newsletter. These days it is more a sales letter than an instruction letter, but the archives are still available on the site and are a good free education.
Corey Rudl's and now Derek Gehl's back-end tactics have come under a lot of fire. No matter what you buy from him, at rather high prices no less, you'll quickly learn it isn't nearly enough. If you buy a course, you'll be told you need several expensive software packages. If you buy software, you'll need to upgrade to the pro edition. If you think he's sending you everything you need to know in a course, you'll soon learn you "need" his course on the super secrets that he himself uses, which he claims no other marketers will tell you about. Back-ending is a valid methodology, and to be expected, but when you get the feeling that you were tricked into something you didn't see coming, you feel duped. That doesn't mean the products aren't valuable - they are. But be prepared.
I strongly dislike trickery, and there are several examples of it on his website. For example, when you're near the order link for a product, you might see an enticing line like "If and only if you buy by (some date) you'll also receive (such-and-such)". Guess what! The date will be today's date, no matter when you go there. It's inserted by a script. That, to me is dishonest. It's simply not true, because if I go there tomorrow, I'll still get the same offer.
The IMC's materials are not particularly cheap. Of course, neither are the materials of lot's of other marketers. As I said earlier, I'm not saying they aren't worth it. If you spend just less than $200 for a huge course, and only use a couple of suggestions from it to garner and extra $2000 in sales, you've paid yourself back 10 times over. And likely it will be many, many times that again if you use the materials as you should.
There are lot's of bonus freebies that come with Gehl's products - that's part of his typical method, and one he encourages you to emulate. But you quickly get the feeling that the quoted value is WAY over-inflated. It is, of course. The actual value of a product is what you could sell it for, and few if any of the prices he quotes would hold up to asking prices like those. Again, it doesn't mean his products are bad. Just the feel of the tactic.
In general Gehl's copy feels pushy and somehowyou don't get the trust factor you feel from some. He's in it for the money and you definitely "feel" the greed effect. That does hurt his credibility a bit. Once again, I'm not saying his products are worthless.
I've been a bit put off by his poor email support. Please see the details of it under the Support section below.
The software the IMC sells hard is largely produced by his company. But there are several very good competitive products that work just as well, or better, for less money and which have better support. I do not recommend most the software for the price you pay. One exception I might make is the BeBiz package, which I think has some value for the beginner.
A recent tactic is that nearly every purchase is designed to lead you into either an ongoing subscription or to the high-priced consultation packages. This is an unfortunate trend in the IMC's lineup, in my opinion.
Derek Gehl's commission rates are excellent and there are some who have made a lot of money on his affiliate program. However, there is some concern over the aggressiveness of the company itself in marketing products to the affiliate's customers rather than giving subsequent sales to affiliates. There is no system in place to match returning customers to their previous affiliate sellers.
By contrast, for example, Ken Evoy's affiliate program awards commissions on all futures sales back to the affiliate who sold the first product - no matter where they buy them. There is no such system with Rudl's company. However, since the courses are so well respected and IMC's quality is high, one would be proud to carry his line.
I have tested the affiliate program and found that about one out of every fifty customers I send to his site will purchase a product.
There is one consistent pop-up on the company's site, and that is the newsletter sign-up form. I get a little tired of that thing dropping down in front of me every time I go from page to page.
The newsletter is certainly the main freebie of value available at marketingtips.com. There is no repository of free ebooks that I've been able to find. However, if you look around the Web you will occasionally run into reprinted articles or other works by Rudl.
He also offers a lot of freebies along with purchases, but not by themselves that I've found. However - don't miss the newsletter archives.
All of Rudl's materials have a money-back guarantee. There is usually a 30-day time limit, except the Insider Secrets course, which has a 1 year guarantee. I have not yet found a record of a complaint about the hard products. In general I think the name is valuable enough that they would try to protect it by honoring the guarantee.
However, I have heard a few complaints from my readers and from other sources about getting refund satisfaction from the mentoring program. Some who thought it was not the value they expected have found there are disclaimers to what is or isn't refundable.
The Better Business Bureau does say that one or more customers remain dissatisfied, even though the company made a reasonable effort to resolve the issue. At least it's good to know they tried.
- - - - - BBB Quote - - - - -
"The Bureau has processed customer complaints on this company in its three-year reporting period. Some of the complaints were resolved. However, for other complaint(s), the consumer remains dissatisfied despite the company's reasonable effort to resolve the complaint(s)."
- - - - - End BBB Quote - - - - -
In general, I do not have nice things to say about email support at marketingtips.com. I wrote to them to ask about some missing newsletter archives.
Six days later I got a response saying "I'll look into it and get back to you soon."
Another 5 days and I wrote back asking, "what's the status of this research."
Another week later and finally I got a reply saying they weren't available.
When I joined the affiliate program I didn't get the introductory email. Days later I started to get the follow-up email, but still no information on my membership number, links, and such.
I wrote for help.
Granted it was on Saturday. No response. I wrote again on Monday. Tuesday arrives, still no response.
On Tuesday I called them. They asked, "What's you're email address?" I gave the first four letters of my address and before I got any further, "Oh, yes. You wrote on Saturday," She said defensively.
"Yes and also Monday!" I replied.
"I'll get that letter out to you within four hours."
By the end of the day - about 6 hours later I got an email saying "In order for me to access your account, I will need the email address the account is under. Unless you know your affiliate number."
Sheesh, you knew it when I called you!!!!! But I sent a reply with the email address AND my membership number anyway.
Next day I get another email saying, "In order for me to delete your account, I will need the email address the account is under. Unless you know your affiliate number."
Delete my account? All I want is my stinkin' introductory email! I sent the email address and account number AGAIN! I finally had to call them.
Other times I've written about various products so I could review them properly. No reply days later.
I'm not alone in this problem. I've seen complaints on forums all over the Internet.
Folks - learn something here!! For such a pundit of auto responders, why doesn't marketingtips.com use one for email support! Such a major company on Internet marketing surely ought to have a response ticketing system. It does not.
Over two years ago I was told there was a ticketing system to be implemented soon. It still doesn't seem to be in place.
Mr. Gehl - get on the stick. This is hurting you badly!