If you have been involved with Online Marketing for any amount of time then you will surely have heard of Market Samurai.
It is promoted by many marketers and bloggers as the ‘must have tool’. It always you to research competitors website information including ranking, backlinks and other basic data. In reality you can do almost everything it does online for free already, perhaps the tool just made it easier to organize and store your research. You paid a one time fee and could use the software ‘forever’.
I often wondered why so many people promoted it so heavily. I guess it was a combination of facts that newbie marketers would not know much about SEO research so instead of using multiple sites to find all the information, Market Samurai offered it in one place (major convenience). Alongside the fact that Market Samurai had generous commissions for each sale and thus added another revenue source for many marketers.
I happened to be on a marketing cruise with the creators some years ago. Really nice guys, and from conversations with users of the product, it clearly helped a large number of people.
However last week, members of my mastermind group began asking question as to why the software was not working. Apparently it was not finding any results.
Market Samurai bases it data from search engines, which in essence means Google. Most marketers use Google for all ranking based SEO information as the search engine commands the lions share of traffic (I believe over 80% of all search engine traffic with all the other making less them 20% combined).
Then today, comes the news that they have to either drop their ‘one time price model’ or drop their results from Google. Google had made changes which rendered their software incompatible. They were kaputt and had no way of making it work without paying Google tons of money for daily data.
Strange as one of the guys on our mastermind had purchased the software on a ‘one time payment’ basis just last week, when the software was not working!
There are some very basic business lessons in this case, which I’m sure are going to become more apparent over the coming week.
In Google’s defense, Market Samurai were making a very comfortable living off their data, so they have every right to demand people pay for that data. What perhaps Market Samurai forgot to do is ‘risk assessment‘ – a topic I opted to study extensively in my MBA.
Risk assessment is a very valuable tool that many Online Businesses fail to even consider. It basically involves you considering worst case scenarios and risks in order to incorporate practices and guidelines to handle situations quickly should the risks materialize.
Here are some risks that I believe Market Samurai could have explored in greater details:
What are the dangers of relying on Google for our data?
This is a risk that has clearly come true. Relying solely on any one source for your key business, means that your business almost ends when that source is shut down. If you website or business bases its income solely on Google traffic, then just imagine what would happen when either Google decides to change the way it works with you, or it decides to de-list you completely.
Your whole business will come to a stop and you will be left in tatters simply because you put the power of your business in their hands.
NEVER PUT ALL YOUR BUSINESS IN THE HANDS OF ONE COMPANY – DIVERSIFY YOUR RISKS
Always diversify your risk. Never rely on just one source, try to add multiple sources. This helps protect your business and can even help you create competition between suppliers.
Take a look at your business now, and consider just how much you reply on one particular method of traffic or income.
If Google is a risk to our business, how can we help limit this risk if the worst is to happen?
Market Samurai team have put themselves in a very tricky position. After relying on simply one main source, they are now asking people to keep using their software with an alternative source of information (they want to use Bing, which is largely considered to small to be relevant in SEO circles) or to pay for a monthly fee for maintaining their service.
Something which will prove very difficult because they failed to train their users to use the alternative sources or to pay a monthly fee.
If they had assessed that Google was such a big risk, then they really should have integrated Bing into their software long ago. This would have done two main things:
- It would have allowed their software to still run if Google shut them off
- More importantly, it would have trained their users beforehand that Bing could be a viable source of information too.
What they have done so far, is largely educate people on the benefits of Google for SEO. Switching users mindsets now will prove incredibly difficult.
Always assess risks and educate your users on possible alternatives you may use BEFORE a disaster strikes.
Change in anything is often difficult to accept. Starting a new diet regime or exercise plan often proves very difficult until you really start seeing benefits. Trying to switch users over to a service they already see as inferior, will be a very difficult task. Not impossible but very difficult.
A little planning and integration in the past, could have avoided this complete nightmare scenario.
Look at the alternatives in your business and educate customers to use them. If you use only one supplier then add a few more just in case one goes Kaputt, in order to ensure your business can keep running with minimal disruption (you do not have the hassle of finding another supplier and training them as you have been doing it slowly for month or years before the disaster struck).
I will write a more detailed post on the basics of risk assessment for Online businesses in future post. I hope today you take the lesson of the mighty Market Samurai and take a deep look at your business and the risks you are exposing yourself too.
If you have question before then on risks in your business, be sure to comment below and I’ll try my best to answer.