This post is for owners of BANS or “Build a Niche Store”. If you haven’t purchased it or want to know more – you need to visit this page.

Those of us who are BANS owners received email late last week regarding the re-launch of the BANS web site, sales pages, forum, and the addition of new free templates. These are big changes. I’m glad to see the revamp of the site and sales pages. Everything looks more professional now. I really think a small percentage of potential BANS customers didn’t buy because the previous site and sales pages were a big too much “hype”. They looked a bit like some shafty affilate marketer wanting to push his spammy product down your throat (IMHO).

The 2 additional new things are the forum and templates. First, let me say that I think the new forum looks great. The topics make more sense and everything looks cleaner. Along with the forum comes a new set of rules. I think it’s great that they will no longer tolerate people being degrading, talking down to people, or being disrespectul. However, that’s something nearly impossible unless you have full time moderators reading each and every post (which they do have in place).

The new forum rules also state that you can’t have affiliate links for the sole purpose of promoting yourself. You have to actually have to add some value to BANS and forum visitors. I can see that too. What I don’t understand is the rule about a mandotory moritorium on talking about competing products. Kelvin and Adam don’t want anyone to post a single thing about ANYTHING that competes with Build a Niche Store. Don’t you find this a little weird (and PARANOID!).

First, let me start by saying that I think the new “free BANS templates” available in the forum for download are great! Too bad so many users have paid for templates of similar quality through third party developers for the past few years because the included BANS templates were so bland. These should have been free a looooong time ago.

I guess for me, I think that these new changes are great – but I’m just not as excited as a lot of other people seem to be. Mark the Niche Store Builder is enthralled it seems, and he thinks the “future looks bright” for BANS. I guess I always tend to over-analyze things and go into “what would I do if I owned BANS myself…” mode.

As Mark pointed out in his post, BANS has rapidly gone from 1,500 users to over 10,000 in the last year. On the one hand you can say that it’s been difficult for Adam and Kelvin to keep up with that kind of growth. On the other hand, as an affiliate marketer you think – do Adam and Kelvin even realize the potential (opportunities) they have?

Most online (and traditional) marketers only dream of having a product that they sold 10,000 times and having an immediate customer base.

From the BANS Marketing Perspective –

  • You have a product that you sell ONE TIME and offer FREE lifetime upgrades and support for that can be installed on an UNLIMITED amount of domains. Is this a sound business model? Look – you just inherited 10,000 customers who paid one time and will never pay again!
  • You have 10,000 customers that have a “base model” product. To enhance it they have to hack the code themselves, or pay a third party developer for themes, add-ons, headers, enhancements, etc.
  • You have 10,000 customers that are to some degree “affiliate marketers”. Helping them with other affiliate marketing needs beyond sales and installation of a single script product would foster company growth.

The emails announcing these changes seemed a bit narrow minded, talking about everything being for the good “of furthering BANS as a product” and being an eBay affiliate. I think this misses the boat a bit. First of all – there is much more to being a successful eBay affiliate than creating a niche store with BANS software. I can make money as an eBay affiliate using WordPress plugins like BayRSS, or by using eBay’s own widgets available within EPN. I can even build eBay pages or entire affiliate sites using freely available open source software. It also seems as if they think you can’t be as successful as an eBay affiliate within setting up BANS stores.

It would seem that it would be smarter to capitalize and on the trademark “Build a Niche Store”. The term “niche store” is used by online marketers to describe setting up nearly any type of affiliate site in a specific topic. So are “niche site” and “niche blog”. I can create a niche site using a wide variety of services like goldenCAN, PopShops, Shopping.com, Chitika, Affilistore, NetShops, and a hundred others.

Adam and Kelvin don’t want you to talk about anything that’s “competition to BANS” in their member forum, so you couldn’t mention any of those other products or services there. Doesn’t that seem strange? The members forum is PRIVATE. People that haven’t already purchased BANS can’t see it, so talking about competing products (amongst existing customers) isn’t going to dissuade anyone from buying it. And if someone mentions something that causes a forum member to look into AND BUY a competiting product – WHO CARES! They already bought BANS (because they’re a forum member) AND BANS has nothing further to sell!! Get wise guys, acting this way is a bit like putting your head in the sand.

Things that would make BANS a “must-have” product and driving force for affiliate marketers

Consider this my “BANS wish list” and an open letter to both Adam and Kelvin…

Changes I would make if I were in charge of BANS

  • An update adding BANS features now available in the current eBay API, like the ability to “Find Popular Searches” and “Find Reviews and Guides”
  • Addition of a BANS API allowing developers to officially write BANS plugins and add-ons
  • Online Marketplace for official plugins and add-ons to be sold, in addition to premium themes
  • Creation of free integration plugins so BANS could be used in conjunction with open source software such as WordPress, Mambo, Drupal, Joomla, Noah’s Classifieds, MediaWiki, Aardvark’s TopSites, etc.
  • Addition of a Certified Consultants directory so you can pay for BANS expertise for setup, enhancements, or custom add-ons and themes
  • An expansion of the “Build a Niche Store” brand, creating products for sale to create niche stores as an amazon affiliate, or using datafeeds, or tying into other API’s – like Shopping.com, YouTube, Flickr, del.icio.us, Yahoo Search, or numerous other ones

Again…this is merely me thinking, “if BANS could be everything I wanted – what would that be…?” Hopefully in the future we will see great things, and who knows – if we’re lucky maybe they will listen to just one of my suggestions! Are you a BANS owner? What do you think?