online_marketing_smell_testWhen it comes to detecting scams and evaluating product offers, the number one technique I use is something called the smell test.

It’s a great way to evaluate products and services quickly, without doing a lot of extra research. Here are the basic principles:

It Sounds Too Good To Be True

This is the first and most important principle of the smell test, and requires some good common sense:

If a product or service sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Think about it: if it were really that easy to make money, get traffic, or whatever it is the site is trying to sell you, why would they teach you to do it for such a low cost? Why don’t they just spend their time implementing their own strategy, and make even more money?

So if your first reaction is: “Sweet!!! That sounds amazing!!!” you should probably take a step back and evaluate the program more clearly before signing on.

It’s a “Secret” Method

Any business worth its salt will be able to provide you with a clear overview of their process and objectives before you sign on.

While some businesses try to claim they’re worried about disclosing proprietary information, that line is really just a way of saying they either can’t explain it or don’t want to. If they can’t invest a few minutes to back their own product, its probably an indication of the level of service you’ll get later on, so you shouldn’t waste your time or money.

It Has No Competition

This last principle is a little more subtle than the first two.

In the business world, competition is a good  thing. If a company really has no competitors to compare them to, they’re probably trying to sell you a poor product, or worse, something you don’t actually need.

If they’re in a reputable business, there will be other companies out there competing for your business, so feel free to compare other relevant products and make sure there are other players in the space.

At the end of the day, these 3 principles are really just a way of leveraging your own common sense before making a purchase. Do your research, find reputable reviewers, talk to other consumers, and evaluate the competition. That way, you’ll be sure to stay away from scams.