Marketing Muckraking podcast with Rachael Kay Albers - what is brand culture doing to us?

Why Are There No Negative B-School Reviews? DCA? StoryBrand?

This episode was originally recorded as a CoMuckraking edition on Instagram Live.

Why is it so hard to find any negative reviews of B-School?

What about Digital Course Academy? Or StoryBrand? (Or fill in the name of the celebrity online business course here: ______.)

Is it because B-School and programs like it are so good that NOT A SINGLE ONE of its 65,000+ students have anything bad to say?

In a world where people write essays ripping apart the $5 widgets they get off Amazon, is it possible that nothing similar exists about a program that costs $2499 ($2868 if you do the payment plan)?

In this special CoMuckraking edition of the show, originally recorded Instagram Live, I break down why programs like Marie Forleo's B-School, Amy Porterfield's Digital Course Academy, Donald Miller's StoryBrand, and other celebrity courses like it (I'm looking at you, Tony Robbins) have so few negative reviews.

The answers will probably surprise you!

Why are there no negative B-School reviews? (Or negative Digital Course Academy reviews? Or negative StoryBrand reviews?)

Let me break it down quickly:

  1. Legal pressure; EVERY PERSON who purchases B-School agrees to a boilerplate non-disparagement clause in the terms & conditions before they click “Enroll now.”
  2. Peer pressure; The community of 65,000 B-Schoolers and the celeb entrepreneurs who back Marie Forleo make it hard to be a hater. Who wants to admit they didn't get the results everyone else claims they did? Who wants to be the odd one out?
  3. Affiliate pressure; Once you become an affiliate, it’s very legally tricky to share honest, negative feedback because of the business relationship you now have with Marie Forleo.
B-School Non Disparagement marie Forleo

Here is the exact language customers agree to in the Terms & Conditions for buying Marie Forleo's B-School:

Non-disparagement. You agree that you will not engage in any conduct or communications with a third party, public or private, designed to disparage the Company, B-School, or Marie Forleo, including, but not limited to, any remark, comment, message, information, declaration, campaign, communication, or other statement of any kind, whether verbal, in writing, electronically transferred, or otherwise, that might be reasonably be construed to be derogatory, defamatory, libelous, or slander. 

The language is very similar for Amy Porterfield's Digital Course Academy ($1997 when paid in full) and Donald Miller's StoryBrand certification ($9999 for certification and $5000 to renew annually).

How would you feel if McDonald’s asked you to agree to their terms & conditions, promising you won’t say or post anything negative about the Big Mac you’re about to eat, before they slide over your tray?

If you wouldn’t do that for a $4 sandwich, why would you for a $2499 course?

Maybe your spidey senses know deep down that it’s a violation of the Consumer Review Fairness Act, which states that boilerplate, form contracts between sellers and consumers (before they even use a product or service) can’t prohibit negative reviews.

Here's the exact language of the Consumer Review Fairness Act:

The Act generally makes provisions of form contracts between sellers and individual consumers void from inception if the provisions: (1) prohibit or restrict individuals from reviewing sellers’ goods, services, or conduct; (2) impose penalties or fees on individuals for such reviews; or (3) require individuals to transfer intellectual property rights in such reviews. The Act also bars sellers from offering form contracts with such provisions. The Act contains certain exceptions, including for contract provisions that bar the submission of confidential, private, or unlawful information.

But of course, these celeb entrepreneurs are banking (quite literally) on you not knowing that. So if you happen to violate their terms & conditions and post a negative review on your website or public social media accounts, they’ll simply send you a scary legal letter telling you to cease and desist, trusting that you’ll be so intimidated or overwhelmed, you simply comply.

This episode of Marketing Muckraking is all about being critical, informed consumers.

Is that boilerplate non-disparagement clause in your form contracts legal?

And, when a B-Schooler or one of Marie Forleo's affiliates swears they're giving you an “unbiased, honest” review of the program, can you trust them?

Mentioned in this episode: 

Marketing Muckraking Podcast with Rachael Kay Albers

About the Marketing Muckraking podcast

Welcome to Marketing Muckraking, the show that asks not simply what brand culture can do for us, but what it’s doing to us — with your host, creative director, brand strategist gone wild, and the court jester of online business, Rachael Kay Albers — making fun of business and making business fun.

This is the show for rebels, revolutionaries, and renegades who run businesses that burn the rulebook. If you’re sick of business podcasts with all the answers — I’ve got nothing but questions.

Where we swap B School for FREE SCHOOL, easy for honest, and goal digging for marketing in pursuit of meaning.

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