BRAD SUGARS, ActionCOACH: The Battle of the Blogs was originally published July 13, 2009 on Unhappy Franchisee. It is reprinted here – with the initial comments – by permission.
Brad Sugars, founder & CEO of ActionCOACH, is the target of much criticism on the Internet. According to Brad Sugars, there are 5 things you should do when you are attacked on the Internet. In his post The Good, the Bad and the INTERNET , Brad Sugars wrote:
1. Answer EVERY allegation with total transparency but only do it on a site that YOU CONTROL … never answer on their site, put a link from their site to a site you control …
2. Give your good customers, team members and clients a place to speak up, a place to be heard and seen, allow them to post their own replies … get the positive voices out there … hope you can comment here and do just that …
3. Make sure you control the search and domain of your name, build strength in your site and many other sites with your name in them, for example, I have not just www.bradsugars.com, but also www.aboutbradsugars.com, www.askbradsugars.com and www.actionspeakslouderthanwords.com …
4. Make sure you are linked to from as many other sites as possible … get other people writing about you and talking about you and linking to your sites …
5. Blog, Facebook, Tweet, LinkedIN and get yourself out there and let people know who you really are …
Brad Sugars strategy: beat detractors in the search engines.
In short, Brad’s recommendation is to do battle with your detractors for top positioning in the search engines. It’s a strategy surely forged on the advice of supposed SEO experts, techies and/or social media gurus eager to register a thousand domains and get paid to launch thousands of posts and tweets.
Unhappy Franchisee commenter Coach 2003 wrote:
As I understand it from insiders, Action sent an internal mail out a couple of months ago, where they told all their coaches and staff not to visit links like these in order not to give it a ranking boost. It also said Action will pull all marketing resources from other activities for 6 months to do nothing but counter these threads and the list of strategies include buying up brad sugars domain, setting up askbradsugars.com and paying massively for ranking and links from friendly parties in order to bury these threads. It also said instead of ActionCoach, they will now go back to promoting Brad Sugars instead which they’ve stopped earlier to give prominence to ActionCoach.
Brad Sugars launches Internet campaign
According to Unhappy Franchisee commenter “guest,” Brad Sugars has followed his own advice, registering 20+ domains with his name this year, including ASKBRADSUGARS.COM, ABOUTBRADSUGARS.COM, BRADSUGARSFRANCHISING.COM, BRADSUGARSFRANCHISEE.COM, BRADSUGARSFRANCHISE.COM, BRADSUGARS.NET, BRADSUGARS.ORG…
Brad Sugars launched an aggressive blog campaign on BradSugars.com, after making 0 posts in April, he (or his employees) published 23 posts in May, 28 in June, and is on a slightly lower pace in July. It seems the ActionCOACH social media team has also launched aggressive use of Twitter, FaceBook & YouTube to flood the Internet with positive messages about their leader.
Negative comments about Brad Sugars & ActionCOACH are still prominent
The campaign seems to have had some limited success. BradSugars.com is now ranked #1 on a Google search for the term “Brad Sugars.” But Brad Sugars must be realizing about now that his SEO gurus may have oversold their ability to dominate Internet conversation. Out of the current top six Google returns on the term “Brad Sugars,” three contain content critical of Brad Sugars. They are:
SoulCast – Brad Sugars Action Coach This is a three-year-old thread containing thousands of comment postings. Commenters here claim ActionCOACH loyalists stopped the conversation with comment spam, but the conversation remains powerfully ranked.
Rip-off Report: Brad Sugars – ActionCoach – Action International … Rip-offReport.com is a powerhouse complaint site that will never, ever take down a comment – even if the victim pays for exoneration (allegedly).
ACTIONCOACH, BRAD SUGARS: Overview & Discussion | Unhappy Franchisee Our humble site currently occupies the 6th position on a Google search for “Brad Sugars.” However, it is not necessarily a negative discussion. ActionCOACH and Brad Sugars himself are welcome to join the discussion, debate, clarify and disprove the allegations made by detractors. In fact, we will print an official response from any person who or company that is discussed here.
Brad Sugars, in our opinion, will see the need to revise his recommendation for how to respond to online criticism when he realizes that his effort to squelch all negative blogs is futile.
HOW DO YOU THINK BRAD SUGARS SHOULD RESPOND TO NEGATIVE ONLINE COMMENTS? ARE HIS 5 RECOMMENDATIONS EFFECTIVE?
Responses to “BRAD SUGARS, ActionCOACH: The Battle of the Blogs”
soulcast on July 14th, 2009 1:45 am wrote:
ADMIN wrote: SoulCast – Brad Sugars Action Coach This is a three-year-old thread containing thousands of comment postings. Commenters here claim ActionCOACH loyalists stopped the conversation with comment spam, but the conversation remains powerfully ranked.
Well… unless there are some anti-Brad-Sugars commenters so smart and think so far ahead as to strategize to kill the soulcast thread with spam in order to lay the blame on Brad Sugars/ActionCOACH and make them look bad… I would say it is a fair conclusion that they actually did what commenters here claimed.
Furthermore, I believe the commenters were having too much fun to want to kill the thread in that manner.
I believe the admin on franchisepick.com got it right that Brad Sugars is ill advised by his ‘Internet Experts’.
Soon, these blogs will probably appear in other non-franchise related sites; most probably as internet marketing case studies on what not to do
Ps: If Brad Sugars has good advisers and has learnt from soulcast, we would not see postings like “Global Office” over at the other thread…
Bob Fredrick on July 19th, 2009 6:11 pm
Actually I happen to know for a fact that it was CMO Jodie Shaw who spammed the site. According to employees, she bragged about it for quite a while. Why spam if they have nothing to hid?
Informer on July 20th, 2009 12:31 pm
“According to employees, she bragged about it for quite a while.”
Brad Sugars should sack her for making him look stupid.
Bob Fredrick on August 6th, 2009 2:47 am
No. Brad Sugars promoted her for fucking causing soulcast to rank in the top 3 (with her spamming) and ruining his name. But now, she’s in control. Expect things with Action Coach to get much worse.
jodiewho on August 6th, 2009 4:08 am
Jodie Shaw… isn’t she also the one who was hired to be in charge of “Branding” and totally screw it up and still is by creating massive confusion among their coaches community?
Actioncoach is a business teaching business owners direct response marketing and in fact build their empire around those strategies. Internally, they pride themselves on hiring interns to do flashy jpegs promoted to coaches community as “innovations” and “assets” which goes against the very principles of direct response marketing. At the same time, she caused marketing material costs to jump sky high for supposedly better quality, tremendously increasing cost of doing business for their coaches. One PIECE of namecard cost USD 25-30 cts, yup, I did say one piece, not one box. Ditto for letterheads. Imagine if you are in an Asia Pacific or African country after currency conversion. Even in the states that is ridiculous. When they finally ‘relented’, the stage was set for MLs in other countries to set equally ridiculous prices because in comparison to paying USD earlier, it is ‘much cheaper’.
When coaches protest in the forum, she proceed to defend the decision by using product specifications (quality of paper, UV laminated, textured) to justify coaches and later retract and reduce the quality. They probably make a huge margin off stationaries as well. Again, it is against the direct response marketing principles preached.
Instead of test & measure, you now have to ‘protect the brand’ by using only ‘approved’ marketing materials/images done by a bunch of lowly paid interns who doesn’t know anything about the exact stuff Action is teaching customers. And when you use any of the ‘assets’ you are supposed to report back the responses so you as the coach are responsible now to test at YOUR expense what their bunch of interns provide.
Oh and when she start teaching social networking and online marketing, they make such a big deal out of a webinars which ,everyone should attend if they want to take their business to the next level and get clients online’… and she proceed to teach everyone to fill in online forms and creating user IDs on facebook. Again, we are supposed to cheer her brilliant innovation and contribution.
Thanks to Jodie Shaw’s “brilliant” marketing mind, stuff like paper quality, printing technology for namecards, jpegs, wallpapers, ecards are “great assets and innovations” to bring the ActionCoach brand to the next level.
I have no idea why Brad Sugars listen to her.
Then we have Nathan Smith the “IT expert” who hide behind techno-babble whenever someone question him on the forum around the IT challenges they faced. Anybody with a bit of IT knowledge will be able to detect the BS he spew, ditto for his team of developers. So patronizing are these bunch of IT gurus such that they believe they can get away with saying anything because no one else knows IT in their opinions.
If he is leading an external vendor, he would have been sacked. Instead, coaches are forced to grin and put up with him even when he give nonsensial answers because the action ‘culture’ means playing above the line… for coaches, not for HQ team. Coaches can only praise and thank even if they patronize someone and doesn’t answer the question, they are not supposed to even point out the fact that the answers given were not answers at all. Most have just given up.
Another ex coach.. on August 6th, 2009 7:59 am
Great post mate! Describes global pretty well. Regarding “IT Expert” Nathan Smith, their IT help is pretty much useless. It takes weeks and weeks to get a response back.
Another ex coach.. on August 6th, 2009 8:02 am
Great post mate. That describes Jodie Shaw and global pretty well. Good luck getting any IT “help” From “IT Expert” Nathan Smith and crew. It takes weeks to get responses.
NZEx on August 6th, 2009 9:47 am
Finally someone said it out loud!
You are absolutely spot on mate. Nathan Smith and his team of ‘web developers’ assume if you are a coach, you don’t even know what a mouse is.
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