While I don’t usually like to post negative things on my site, I find myself in a situation where I feel compelled to warn others who may be sucked into an “opportunity” in mobile marketing that is most likely a huge scam. Let me give you a bit of background.
In June of this year I was approached by two colleagues about a mobile marketing business called Wicoup – an MLM business opportunity centered around text messaging. Although I was apprehensive about it at first, over time through numerous phone calls and online meetings I became convinced that it might have potential as a good mobile marketing business. I was especially excited when in August I was asked to fly out to San Diego to meet with the then Executive Vice President of the company, John Rustin.
The meeting was about me developing a training program for them and I was told up front that my airfare and travel expenses would be paid by the company. By the way, Wicoup (now known as Digital Direct Network) is owned by Madison Avenue Media (a publicly traded company under stock symbol OTCBB:KHZM).
Without going into way more detail than is really necessary, what happened is that I flew out to San Diego and met with John Rustin. The following week on 8/11/10 John Rustin and I had a phone call with Stephen Molinari, the CEO of Madison Avenue Media, to discuss a proposal from me about the training.
In that phone call Mr. Molinari said a few things that made me very concerned that his company might be planning to do mobile spam. (I had had misgivings like this at several other points in our dealings but had been reassured along the way by my well meaning colleague who first introduced me to this company that everything was above board.)
Here is an email that I sent Stephan Molinari and John Rustin to clarify the situation:
Steve and John:
Despite my excitement after our phone call today about the huge opportunity in Wicoup, there was something said in our call that I keep thinking about. Frankly, it is weighing on my mind heavily. I want to make sure that I didn’t misunderstand you. You said something about having access to every cell phone number in North America on a list and that once it was scrubbed against the Do Not Call list that you would be able to use that to build your opt-in database and gather more demographic information on the owners of the numbers.
Do you intend to send unsolicited text messages to this list of cell phones? Or were you saying something else? I am hoping you meant that this list could be compared to your opt-in database and somehow compile a more robust marketing database. I need to know if unsolicited mobile contact is part of your business model.
Additionally, I would like to know what your specific plans are for the 60 million opt-in numbers in relation to the business owners who would be signing up for Wicoup services. Would they be able to send messages to this database? If so, under what conditions?
Lastly, when a consumer texts in to receive a mobile coupon from Wicoup how is it that they will be notified that they are being added to a database for future communications? Will each business be able to build a database of their customers that only they can send messages to?
I know this is a lot of questions, but these are VERY important to me to be answered clearly, succinctly and directly. I have to say up front that I want absolutely no part of mobile spam and I’m hoping you don’t either since you mentioned a law firm specializing in mobile and having a compliance officer. Here’s the bottom line – I am hearing mixed messages about your company’s stance on this and it is troubling me.
What I see is that Wicoup has the potential to be the biggest and best mobile marketing business opportunity around the world. I would love to be a part of it and help train people to sell smart, ethical mobile marketing tools to businesses. Please tell me that is what you want to do too.
I have never received a response.
Likewise, I have not been reimbursed for my airfare. Despite numerous attempts on my part to collect it. It seems very odd that a publicly traded company would refuse to pay a $482 airfare reimbursement request. Or respond at all to a professional in the industry who had grave concerns about the way business would be handled. Especially when the company had just asked me to fly out to meet with them. This was not unsolicited on my part. There is something not quite right about this whole situation.
My recommendation about Direct Digital Network and Madison Avenue Media is to listen to your gut. I wish I had. Would have saved myself a lot of time, energy and at least $482.
I am so honored to be included on Mobile Marketer’s Mobile Women to Watch List for 2010. It is so exciting to be listed with other “achievers who have already left their stamp on mobile marketing.”
There are some seriously awesome women on this list, like Laura Marriott, who is the Former President of the Mobile Marketing Association, and Tamara Gruber of Crisp Wireless who is one of my long-time mobile women friends and super smart marketer. I’ll let you read the entire list on your own, but want to leave with a couple of the quotes I especially liked:
“In mobile, you need to keep an eye on the future and a foot grounded in the present”
Vice president of emerging trends, Omnicom’s MobileBehavior
“We need to connect with women in other industries who want to be where the action really is today in marketing”
Chief marketing officer, Quattro Wireless
“Currently 0.8 percent of email newsletters are optimized for mobile, yet 20 to 30 percent of folks are checking their email
on mobile devices”
See the Mobile Woman to Watch 2010 list at Mobile Marketer.
My colleague, Tomi Ahonen has a new book coming out – Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media – and it is sure to be a great read. I’ve learned so much about the mobile industry and how to market with mobile from reading Tomi’s books.
This one sets the stage for mobile being the biggest mass media we’ve ever seen and backs it up with statistics that will flat out amaze you.
But don’t take my word for it, grab this 30-page excerpt and see for yourself. It is a PDF file that you’ll get immediately upon clicking.
I’d love to hear what you think after you read it. You can also comment on Tomi’s blog here. (Tell him I sent you over to comment.)
- IMMBN IMMBN International Mobile Marketing Business Network
- BOOK HANDBOOK The Mobile Marketing Handbook by Kim Dushinski
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- SPEAKING SPEAKING Invite Kim Dushinski to speak about mobile marketing