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I guess it was inevitable - TWF competing with merchants

Discussion in 'Forum Support & Feedback' started by Pete, Apr 19, 2011.

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  1. fulfilco

    fulfilco

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2010
    Messages:
    231
    It does limit the scope for generating new leads in this field though. You shouldn't have to worry about being stabbed in the back and retaining current clients in this environment having paid to be an advertiser.
  2. Pete

    Pete

    Joined:
    May 30, 2005
    Messages:
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    Here is the problem. Keep in mind from my first post on this matter I said I had no problem with paid advertising, either the banners, the in-forum posts, or google adwords types. I also have no problem paying for ads within the "newsletter". That's all common "publisher" type stuff, even being paid for special "newsletters" paid for entirely by one seller, which we have not yet encountered, but which are not unheard of with other membership type sites of all sorts.

    It is the direct tie-in, the suggestion of commissions or other considerations for using the power of the forum to influence buyers to one particular product over others offered here as well.

    This is the basis -

    We are working with the team from Brightpearl to solidify a special relationship that we hope all our members will benefit from.

    Just enter promo code "TWF20" when signing up.


    Just strikes me of an affiliate scheme that favors one over another.

    I agree, there is still plenty of room for me and the others. And there is no question of the value of user referrals, they are a great benefit to many who offer goods or services here.

    Frankly, I'm not particularly concerned about this specific offer. I've weathered worse. I'm more concerned about the overall direction this seems to be heading. And anyone who says they are not concerned about a respected organization with the power to communicate with 50,000+ people and growing daily encroaching on their own specific market segment needs to think again. Unless you happen to be the one it is partnered with.

    Talk about toys, or clothes, or games, you name it. Suddenly there is a "newsletter" promoting not one of the active forum members, but national or international wholesaler of your products with prices, products and programs you have no simply do not have the resources to compete with. And the very same media supplier you have been using for months or years is not simply selling advertising space (in the newsletter, banners, etc.) but is also receiving a commission on all sales generated. It's the last part that makes your very place you're advertising also your competitor.
  3. mastersg

    mastersg

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
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    1,820
    I can understand Pete's point over here and can only hope Anthony will look into this topic and perhaps provide further advice. However taking into account any advertisement is further revenue for this forum and am certain goes towards the upkeeping of it too.

    The most important point to be noted is that Pete, Zeerock, Saajan, Supreme Hoster and many others established sellers with big reputations, so if a company comes and decides to grab a slice of the cake, surely Anthony and the Mods will have consented to it, however you guys have that customer base, feedback which will take some time to build for the new company associated in the newsletter.........or poll
  4. ZeeRocK

    ZeeRocK Banned Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    4,596
    Sorry bit late on this thread. I agree with Pete on this. Its not about money its about the loyalty of long time forum members turned advertisers. Pete and Saajan been here for 5/6 years and I have joined over year ago and advertising over 6 months now and I felt bit ignored when I didn't see any Ecommerce Part from TWF Market Place but instead other Cart/hosting providers.

    I don't want to say that but Pete,Saajan, so many other advertisers and I not always promoting ourselves but spend countless hours replying and helping fellow members and then also pay for advertising. I'm not sure if its intentional or just a mistake but then you see 4 non TWF hosts/cart providers at the end :\

    Something is just not right.

    Thats all I have to say right now.

    Ash
  5. darren1979

    darren1979

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,629
    Im with you Pete on this one, In the first newsletter i received was a nice banner advertising BigCommerce, the same company i resell. Now that is in direct competion to me and what i was offering on TWF, at first i thought ok this may help push people to me but then quickly realised it would be far from it and infact do the opposite. So im affraid to say my advertising membership wont be renewed and ill be taking my money and knowledge elsewhere.
  6. Pete

    Pete

    Joined:
    May 30, 2005
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    14,067
    Damned shame, Darren.

    You are most definitely an asset here, one I often recommend to my hosting clients needing help.

    I've still got your info, no fears there.
  7. Pipehype

    Pipehype

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Messages:
    1,096
    This is quite an interesting thread. Just had a read through it there. I must say that in all honesty I generally ignore newsletters and offers of any sort that are emailed to me! It is easy to see both sides here. For me the likes of Zeerock, Pete, Game-Tec, Supreme Hoster etc. would be the ones to go to because of their reputation on the forum and the fact that I have interacted with them on this forum many times. This is what will help them maintain their position as successful advertisers here while Brightpearl will not have that 1 to 1 contact that most people like. However I can definitely see the conflict of interest if it is indeed a "partnership". It's been said above that the owners can run the forum as they like and why shouldn't they? Well if it pisses off some of the most active members and creates a feeling of unrest among them then that does need to be addressed. There isn't much point in speculating the mind set of Anthony or other Mods/Administrators because it's just pie in the sky talk.

    Just go's to show though that a business or person should never complacent in any area. Good things can be swept from under you in a second. If it is a partnership weigh up your options then grow and adapt....
  8. JustCraig

    JustCraig

    Joined:
    May 30, 2009
    Messages:
    6,883
    I don't really see what the problem is either, I can see how some may feel a little betrayed, but at the end of the day the forum is a business and they have every right to try earn revenue from their customer database
  9. Michael

    Michael

    Joined:
    May 6, 2009
    Messages:
    11,523
  10. wroberts

    wroberts

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Messages:
    375
    I wonder when an official comment will be made on this ... or is it going to be ignored in the hope people will forget about it in a day or two?
  11. andy v001

    andy v001

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2010
    Messages:
    647
    Well Anthony is definitely active as he has just edited one of my comments in another thread...
  12. Anthony

    Anthony

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2004
    Messages:
    17,274
    Folks,

    I am sorry for not having replied sooner, truth be told, I had let this thread run as I do believe that gauging our members opinion on this topic is one that we should pay rather close attention to. It is clearly a topic where there are some strong opinions and I can only assume these may be shared by others who simply may have chosen not to comment. My reason for not replying sooner, despite having monitored this thread since its inception, was simply to allow the discussion to flow naturally without restriction or intervention from myself until a more opportune moment. It appears that we have now reached that point and I have been beckoned to respond – which of course, I will do so.

    I was surprised by this thread when I first saw it, indeed, it left me rather speechless. However, in resisting the urge to comment much earlier in the discussion, it has allowed the topic to be discussed and for members to exchange opinions. I am sure observers of this thread will agree, we do seem to have a divide of opinion and it was important for us to discover this, one way or another. I think it was Pete who mentioned in an earlier post that he wished to see what others thought before he brought this to me directly – I had very much the same opinion (on that particular point) after consideration of the issues being discussed and as such, let it run.

    An explanation on a topic where we (as community providers) are associated would and always has been forthcoming when I feel that it is warranted (the exception being if I am not aware of the on-going discussion, which is a little more common now than a few years ago). Senior members among us know very well that I do not shy away from topics that may paint us in a less than attractive light. I have always believed that you must face these situations head on, as transparency is by far the most important attribute of managing an online community and as soon as you lose that, you may as well hang up your boots and call it a bad job.

    On the key issue of the recent members survey – this was an initiative that was devised by us so as to more closely understand the needs of our membership base. You could classify this initiative as a marketing tool, I would not disagree with this, but in order to serve content, resources and indeed advertisements that are relevant to you all, this is an area that we feel can be improved so as to grow and create more effective offerings for our clients, advertisers, partners and of course – our membership to benefit from. The survey, which was totally optional to take part in, and made as unobtrusive as we felt was appropriate for our usage, was our chosen method on how best to achieve this goal. A survey is by nature a form of collecting intelligence and this has a residual value to pretty much everything that we (i.e. TWF) do here.

    I do not feel that we misconstrued the purpose of the survey to you in our marketing of it and therefore I do not agree with some of the comments that have been directed towards us as ‘profiteering’ off the back of the data that was collected. Clearly, there is some ill feeling toward the context of the survey and its close relation to another piece of marketing, I understand some of these concerns and take them on board. It is regrettable that the survey be interpreted to some in this way, and we can but accept those opinions, consider them, and where applicable, do things differently next time. However, on the basis of some of the comments in this thread, there are aspects of our business that are being totally misconstrued and some wildly inaccurate aspersions have been made towards us and to me personally. I’d like to settle a few of those now.

    Let’s get one thing clear. The survey was conducted and managed by TWF and the data that was collected was for our benefit (as a commercial entity) in better profiling our audience. In as much as the same way as we collate other sources of data that are available, the reason that we do this is to improve the overall offerings that we provide to the community. Let me also be clear that this data and the general insights that it provides allows us to leverage this to other companies that we may wish to work with commercially.

    As some of the members who have contributed to this thread have pointed out, this community is a business in its own right, and exactly as those who choose to advertise with us are doing so for their own commercial objectives, we should not be considered any differently on that particular point. Frankly, this particular issue is rather beside the point, although I do think that there is this rather odd misunderstanding from some of you that the costs incurred as a result of providing this platform are just simply blindly absorbed and that actually, it is by some municipal right that this forum should be made freely available for use. It exists because it is commercially viable for it to do so.

    As to our commercial arrangements – these relationships differ from client to client and we have several hundred commercial clients across the globe and we value all of them equally. Contrary to what may be presumed, around 30% of our advertisers do not have a members account on the forum. I am not going to go down the route of explaining our decision to work with any client in particular; I do not believe that we should have to unless it is in the best interests of our wider membership to do so. We simply only accept advertising where it is of value to our audience.

    On the issue of the community newsletter – this is a relatively new initiative for us to interact and engage with our members. But (and let me be transparent with this), given that it takes on average two man days for each issue to be produced (editorial, graphics, layout, copy, etc), it would not be commercially viable for us to sustain the publication unless it was monetised.

    On the basis that it is understood that elements of the newsletter contain what might be classified as marketing, sales promotions, incentives, and so forth, let me say that in all honesty, I do not view this month’s issue as any different to the previous 5 months that we have been sending out the newsletter.

    Here is a run-down of the past 5 months (I’ll summarise to pinpoint the ‘commercial’ arrangements for the purpose of proving my point): – in issue #1 we did an exclusive feature on a well-known UK clearance wholesaler, in issue #2 we worked with DHgate to provide some insights into China Sourcing, in issue #3 we worked with the organisers of a wholesale fashion exhibition to promote it to our members, in issue #4 we worked with a number of wholesalers that we had met at the exhibition we attended in March and in issue #5 we worked with Brightpearl to promote an online solution that combines some of the most common processes for eCommerce activities.

    Our working with any client is on the basis that our platform is a channel which can be utilised to promote commercial products/services to a large community-based audience. We operate in a free market economy and we chose not to restrict our clients from competing with one another, where it is legal to do so. I believe that if we did restrict competition, to use a phrase already used it would be a slippery slope indeed and that would take us from being a publisher to someone pushing their own agenda. This is not our goal now nor in the future. It is not in our interest to upset clients that we work with, and certainly not to see public backlashes like this, but ultimately when you are operating an open B2B platform as this is, it is inevitable that there will be a crossover of products/services being offered and perhaps a few disagreements will occur along the way.

    To answer a couple of quick questions:

    On advertisers not being contributing members – we have never restricted advertisers from promoting with us on the basis that they must make contributions to the forum. Advertisers that do contribute to the forum are better placed from an ROI stand-point as engagement leads to awareness and indeed natural referrals. This is recommended to all clients but as mentioned, strategies are different across the board. I disagree with the notion that if a client does not wear a Community Advertiser badge they are of lesser importance than one that does, and that works visa-versa. I can however accept that it is confusing and that we should revisit this sooner rather than later so as to provide full clarity.

    On the issue of other affiliations in the newsletter – any remaining ad-inventory that is not pre-booked by existing clients is monetised for reasons I have already alluded to. In the same way that we serve third-party advertisements on other areas of the forum, the newsletter is within the same bracket.

    Response to: darren1979 – as explained to you via private message, it is regrettable that we should ourselves be promoting a company that you yourself had an affiliation with whilst a paid advertiser. We were not aware of this affiliation, and as discussed, you have also accepted that your promotional activities here were quite minimal. I concede our ignorance on this occasion and would have gladly approached you directly or sought alternative affiliations that did not conflict with your own. Clearly, we would never knowingly promote the same company alongside one of our own clients. General Note: We have agreed to remove any affiliation that we have to BigCommerce from our newsletter effective next issue and offered Darren a discounted renewal on his next advertisers membership. He has accepted.

    I may have more to add tomorrow but for now, I do hope that I have covered most if not all points with this reply. I will take some questions/returning comments (where appropriate) but this thread will remain locked until tomorrow morning.

    Best,
    Anthony
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