Because You Have Something To Gain

Because You Have Something To Gain

It seems like every other day I am reading stories from site owners on how they are struggling to handle the financial burden of running a web site as their visitor base is sky rocketing. While they have methods such as affiliate programs and various advertisements in place to generate income, the common theme that I hear is that it is not enough as their visitors don’t seem to be supporting their sponsors.

For example, let’s pretend that there is a person who frequently shops at One day, a hobby site that the person visits decides to run the affiliate program offered by as a way to generate revenue. Even though the person frequently shops at the site, a common scenario is that the visitor would purposely avoid purchasing it through the hobby site that is trying to generate revenue and would instead go directly to even though there would be no real difference in the service that he would be receiving.

You can plead and beg all you want for support, but from my personal experience it comes down to the fact that there are many people who feel that if you have something to gain from a certain situation, they will take the extra initiative to make sure that you do not benefit from it because they would rather see themselves as the only one gaining something for it. Although I can say to a lesser extent that I have experienced similar scenarios in an online environment, there are multiple times in life where I have experienced this type of behavior from others.

A couple of years back when I was first able to offer people Internet access services I naturally started to promote it as it was a good service at a very competitive rate, the customer had the opportunity to get their service for free through referrals and for me it would help that category of my business grow. A couple that I personally knew was in the midst of searching for an Internet service provider and so I felt it would be an ideal solution for them. Since only the wife was available at the time, I spoke to her about the service and provided details about the rates and the perk of being able to receive free service by referring others to it.

She seemed excited about it and asked me to provide all of the necessary details to sign up and it was apparent that one of the key reasons on why she wanted to sign up was to help my business grow. After providing all the information, I left as it would be up to them to decide whether or not they wanted to go with it. A few days later, I noticed that they were one of my new customers and thought everything was well. However, apparently the decision was made without both of them agreeing to it first. The husband apparently blasted her for making the decision and eventually the service was canceled. It wasn’t too big of a deal that I lost the account, but I wanted to make sure everything was okay and to find out the exact reasons for the cancellation.

After discussing it with the husband, everything seemed okay which was great and when I asked whether or not there was a specific reason on why he wouldn’t want the service he just stated that he wanted to think it over more and to see what he could get from others. That sounded fair to me. Afterwards, his wife informed me that he was angry that she enrolled into a service without thoroughly thinking it over first and that since I was gaining something in this deal that they must be getting shafted somehow.

A few days later, they signed on with another provider and it was solely decided by the husband as he was mainly impressed that he was able to receive one month of free service for everyone he referred to the service. After looking at the service and rates, it was more expensive and was virtually the same thing that I offered. Obviously, the fact that he knew that I benefited in some way was one of the key reasons that he didn’t want to use the service.

I think it would be interesting to find out on what exactly a person is thinking when they make a decision solely based on whether or not you have something to gain in a situation that wouldn’t impact them in any way. I can see for example if one doesn’t want to support a certain organization because of things like religious beliefs or that they would have to go through extreme lengths to support them, but in a situation such as the site example above is mind boggling. My personal opinion is that when you encounter a situation like this, don’t spend too much energy trying to change somebody else but instead look for more ideas that your supporters will embrace.

1 Comment

  • Eric 2/28/2005

    This is spot on. I see this behavior and sometimes I think I’m guilty of it. I do value people’s efforts and service, but I think this is very animalistic reaction in everyone.

    We (Homo Sapiens) are very territorial. Ever hear of the study of how long it takes for someone to back out of a parking space when 1) no one is there waiting, 2) someone is there waiting, and 3) someone is waiting and they honk? Not surpisingly, people take LONGER when someone is waiting and even longer if they are waiting and indicating they are impatient.

    I’m guessing the same thing applies to your example. Many people think life is a zero-sum gain. In other words, if you gain then the rest of us lose a little bit. I see some validity in this because resources are limited in our world. It isn’t right since you are providing a service for people but, sadly, most people don’t see that.

    My $0.02: Don’t get involved in a business that caters to the masses and relies on people to see the true value of what you provide. Sadly, most people don’t value service after they’ve received it. They think “I could have figured that out by myself.”

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