Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Check Out that Too-Good-to-Be-True Internet Offer

A Cautionary Internet Tale, Part 2 

Yesterday I told you about a bad experience I had with a program that helps would-be authors write a "mini-book."  The important part of the story is how to avoid having your own bad experience with any program that interests you.  Here are some quick ways to check out a program on the Internet:

Google --  scroll through at least 3-5 Google pages to see if you find any negative entries. Also, enter the name of the product or organization with "complaint" behind the name to see if anything show up.  

References -- this one is tricky because the sellers will probably only give you ones they know would be positive, but try anyway.

Look -- there is a look to things that over-promise and under-deliver: lots of bold and red type.  Lengthy copy, often extremely well-written and compelling, that seems to counter every possible objection you might have, telling you about all the people who have gotten rich, thin or famous using the program.  Endless statistics that cannot be verified.  Tight deadlines: make your decision now or it's gone forever or the price goes up dramatically.  Over-stated value ... the program I talked about yesterday said they were delivering $10,000 worth of training and resources.  Is it really worth $10,000 to show someone how to write and publish the equivalent of a 1,500 word article?  You can start a blog for free and do the same thing in 4-5 posts and gradually, over-time build up a following.

Sound -- podcasts, webcasts and videos are the back bone of Internet marketing and almost all programs offer free, introductory experiences.  Take notes to see how much new information you get for the time you spend listening.  Wait at least a day then review your notes again to see if the information is truly valuable.  If the free information is not truly valuable to you, there's little chance that what you get when you are "inside" will be much better.

The Offer -- a lot of these new marketing ventures not only want you to buy what they are offering but also want you to sell it to your friends.  They will offer you a chance to become an "affiliate" and tell you how you can make your own investment back by just bringing in a few friends.  Affiliate programs are powerful, but please experience the program fully before you sell it to your friends (wish I had taken that advice before I got my friend involved).

Price -- The Internet makes it cheap to deliver content but the go-for-the-gold Internet marketers know that people won't pay high prices just for content so they package things together to build up the value, or the appearance of value.  Teleconferences, webcasts, and videos are common ways to deliver additional information.  But that's still content, so they have to make it seem as though you're going to get individual coaching and help ... enter live events, "mentor" days and one-on-one coaching.  

Suddenly, the information available in a $15 book has a perceived value of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars because now you believe you can become whatever it is you are yearning for.  For some reason "7" seems to be the magic number in the pricing of these offers:  $297, $697, $1497, "$97 to attend a live event worth thousands."  Think through what they are offering and ask yourself if this is truly what you want and if it is worth the price.  Is there any other way you could get to the same end result?  Do you have the time, energy and motivation to complete the program?

Just like diet programs and gym memberships, most of these programs are never completed.

Email -- watch your email after you first indicate your interest.  Your email address is the brass ring for marketers.  And, when it's done right, it works for the marketer and the consumer as you get information you want and that is useful to you.  But, if you notice that you are starting to get a lot of new offers and they seem to be related to something you've just requested information on, consider it a warning signal.  The "mini-book" folks immediately started telling me about "dear friends" who were offering "amazing" opportunities.  Soon I was getting several offers a day from people who were going to make me rich ... with almost no effort on my part.

Ask -- Ask your friends for their advice.  When our passions run hot, logic often runs cold.  I had a friend listen to one of the free teleconferences for the mini-book program.  He listened for 5 minutes and told me to run-don't-walk in the opposite direction.  If I had listened to him, I wouldn't be writing this.

Don't let this warning turn you off of all Internet programs.  There are amazing things available and the Internet has made them possible.


  1. Now -- I just need to heed your advice! :)

    And I promise -- I will.

    And I might add... if it's too good to be true, it is too good to be true!

    And seriously -- '7' -- hmmm.... wonder why? But now that you mention it, I have been burned by a few 7's!!!!!

  2. Very good suggestions, Joyce. The equivalent in our parents' time was the door-to-door salesman.

  3. Hmm. One of the things about being married to an expert on internet security is you never even THINK about getting involved with these kinds of offers. Don't know whether to regret my loss of innocence or just be grateful...