Enjoying Myself Immensely!

One of my associates emailed me yesterday, informing me that someone had duplicated my entire vertical market site system for a particular market. Yes, I’m going to name names here.

We build websites for Norwex Consultants (the domain name when this article was written, was norwexwebsites.com – the domain name has since been removed due to changes in the Norwex policies). We have done so for about a year now. We were the original dynamic Norwex shopping cart provider, and we are the most experienced and successful at it.

One of our clients has taken the liberty of partnering with another technician. I think they thought there was an easy goldmine there (little do they know that anything good takes WORK).

Their site, located at http://www.norwex-websites.com (the hyphenated version of our domain name – this website is also no longer valid, though it was at the time this article was written) contained text straight from our site system, and cloned the shopping cart down to the typos. I saw this myself. I was told that he even used MY templates… Badly edited, according to a reliable source. I did not see these for myself, but this woman knows my work, and has seen the templates I created, and future actions of the site owner would tend to lend credibility to her claim.

My friend took the liberty of emailing him, and informing him that he was using copyrighted information, and that it was unethical. This is where it got fun!

Over the next few hours, we watched as parts of his site became unavailable, then came up again, totally different than what they were before.

His entire template gallery disappeared, and then reappeared one page at a time. It is pretty obvious that he thought if I was using Artisteer to create templates, that he could too. He clearly did not spend as much time learning the fine points of creating good templates with it, because the templates were so easily identified as having been created with a template generator, that you really have to feel sorry for the guy. Artisteer is a GREAT program, and the hands of a skilled designer who takes the time to learn how to use the hidden features and who takes the time to create great graphics in PhotoShop ahead of time, can make this program SING. He didn’t. His templates reuse the same images over and over, and they are all identical, with only some color changes. They aren’t even color coordinated, and they do not use the preferred colors of the target market. The layout and design does not change from one to the next, they have the appearance of having been created in a hurry.

Our templates are unique, color coordinated, and attractive, and we have taken great pains to make sure they reflect the mindset of the target market we are serving. We purchase high quality stock photos for each template, and make sure we are using them according to the terms of use – no shortcuts. We know our stuff, and we know what makes sites work. About half of the consultants want our templates as-is, without any changes other than asking for their site name to be added.

Other pages began to disappear and reappear also. Each time, with new content. Must have given him quite a bit of panic. I suggested to him that he might want to make sure that every bit was removed that was ours, whether he thought it was private or not, because if he failed to, he’d never be quite sure which client we sent to purchase a site and check it out for us.

I guess there are three lessons from this.

1. I don’t think there is a reason to feel threatened by competition. I mean, if someone honestly sets up competition against me, go for it. If they do a better job than I, they deserve the success.

This was different than that. We took action, notifying him that he needed to stop using our copyrighted items, because when you copy something of someone else’s it is THEFT, not innovation.

But I am still not worried about competition from this kind of person. I am not a lazy business woman. I did things right, and I took the time where it mattered. I need not fear anyone who takes shortcuts because they lack the understanding of what makes a website really work, and what makes it fail. There are so many points on which he simply cannot compete with us in quality, and where his site falls down on basic marketing messages that he does not pose any real threat to our business. His sales site is so unattractive (this was the first thing one of my students commented on) and so lacking in essential conversion points, that it is doubtful that he will be able to make a sale.

In this instance, he is actually going to do a LOT of marketing for us – because people remember domain names WITHOUT hypens (and search engines pay more attention to the original than to the knock off. Hyphenated names have absolutely NO higher weight with them, they provably parse both with equal accuracy). So a good deal of his marketing will benefit us, but NONE of ours will benefit him!

2. If you do something illegal (by intent, or by being mislead), you are likely to get caught. And when you do, you’ll spend your time running around trying to cover up the evidence, rather than being able to use the time in productive activities that move your business forward. Not only that, but someone may publish the truth of what happened, to which you will have no defense, and it will give your company a black eye, potentially costing you the time you already invested, or more.

3. When someone does something like this, there isn’t a reason to seek revenge. There are legal steps you can take, and the law can provide its own consequence. That is how it should be.

I’ve never had someone blatantly steal something from me in all my years doing business online. I’ve had clients who reported having their sites cloned by someone else, but it has never happened to me. Having it happen with an entire system was rather a surprise.

I’ve actually had a good evening, peeking in periodically to see what is being frantically replaced next. It has been rather amusing, sort of like pulling the strings on a puppet. I’m also writing a few other emails, informing a few other people who need to know, whose work was also involved in the system.

I really sort of feel sorry for the guy… To be so handicapped in business as to think this is a way to get ahead!

One Response to Enjoying Myself Immensely!

  • Anna Wensly says:

    Are you serious? What kind of a “web designer” would do that? That’s just embarassing.

    I am so glad you’re taking this public. People need to know the truth. You’re taking it better than I would. I’d be out for blood if someone did that to me.

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