Before Spending Money, Let's Talk About
SCAMS: SPECIAL INVESTIGATION SERIES
By Kathy Burns
Monday, November 22, 2004; 7:30pm EST
Have you noticed all of the advertisements on the Internet from
"gurus" and people who have "made it" with their Internet business?
You know the ones, they tell you how in demand they are. They tell
you how they get several thousand dollars for each seminar they
give. They tell you how they've made hundreds of thousands of
dollars online. And they tell you they'll give you their secrets and
formulas for the "ridiculously low price of $99.95"!
These characters are all really slick. Their one page web site is
designed to draw you in, convince you, and take your hard earned
money. Some of them are written really well and the product is very
tempting to buy. But does a little doubt linger somewhere at the
back of your mind? Is there something holding you back but you just
can't quite put your finger on it? There might be a valid reason for
Let's travel through history a bit and see if we can figure out why
you get those tiny doubts....
Orson Wells. Heard of him? War of the Worlds. Heard of that? I think
almost anyone in the U.S. knows both names, but for amusement I'll
summarize the story. The War of the Worlds was a fiction radio
story. I think it was broadcast in the 1940's or 1950's era but I
don't remember the exact date. This story happened to be science
fiction, and happened to involve aliens landing on Earth and
starting a war. Now the story was put on in full production mode --
just like the fiction movies you see on TV today with professional
actors. The only problem is, many people tuned into the radio show
while it was in progress, and they had no idea it was a fictional
story! Panic and chaos ensued.
Jump to the 1960's era. Did you know there was a book that was put
on to best seller lists, even though the book didn't actually exist?
Yep. A radio DJ cooked up a plot to "fool" some people. He arranged
to have listeners go to bookstores and request a specific book. The
book didn't actually exist, and this was part of the prank. To his
and his listener's surprise: Their requests for this book stirred up
interest across the world. People were talking about the book
everywhere -- reviews were even written about it! And soon enough it
showed up on a bestseller list. But the book did not even exist. The
non-existent book was called "I' Libertine", and due to the furor
created from the prank, the radio DJ went on to write a real book by
that name later in life.
Now let's jump ahead about 30 years. In the 1990's, some of you may
remember computer communities called a "BBS". BBS stands for
bulletin board system, and back then this was a computer that you
dialed in to. Once connected, you could download files, chat with
other members and play games. The public Internet was not available
back then, so this was as close as you could get. One BBS was having
a difficult time getting itself off the ground. They had one major
competitor, and they couldn't seem to win customers away from that
competitor. So the owners decided to entice the customers. The
customers were almost 100% male back then, and one thing they were
all looking for was a friendly female. So one of the owners of the
new BBS -- a man -- took on a BBS personality of a female. They set
up a charade basically, with all the trimmings. This man would
pretend to be female and chat with all the guys on the competitor's
BBS. During the chats, "she" would make sure they all understood
that she could be found more often on this other, newer BBS. So, if
they wanted to talk to her more, they would have to go over there.
And they did.
Jump ahead to the later 90's and the Internet is just coming into
play as a business medium. I'm personally aware of several companies
which made themselves appear much larger than they were. How?
Primarily by putting up pictures of their "office" building on their
company website. The pictures they put up however, weren't actually
their offices. They were in an apartment, or basement in reality.
But the pictures showed gorgeous, upscale office buildings. They
made themselves look much bigger and successful than they actually
And today we have thousands of one page websites which tout the
accomplishments of their owners. These websites make many claims and
sometimes those claims are hard to believe.
You see, there really are consultants in this world who make several
thousands of dollars for seminar presentations. But those
consultants usually have a corporate style, polished website. You
can tell as soon as you get there that they've spared no expense in
getting the site professionally done. You'll find links on the site
too -- links to corporate and/or consultant information, links to
additional resources, links to recent and upcoming seminars. There
are links to their books too of course, and sometimes these links
lead to Amazon or the publisher's site. If the book is
electronically published, you can even buy it right on site. The
point is though: there is detailed information there, not just sales
hype. In short, there is supporting evidence that they are who they
say they are.
History shows us that people can be fooled into thinking the world
is coming to an end just from a radio show. History shows us that
people will believe a book is wonderful even when they've never
actually seen it themselves. History has shown us that what you
think you see or hear is not actually what you've seen or heard.
So, when you land on one of those slick, one page sales hype Web
sites. Before you spend your hard earned money, stop and think a
bit. Is the person behind the site more likely telling the whole
truth -- or skewing it in a way that will make you believe what they
want you to believe?
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About the Author
' 2002, Kathy Burns. This article is provided courtesy of The Guru
Gazette Niche Marketing Blog - http://www.GuruGazette.com - You may
freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter
provided this courtesy notice and the author name and URL remain