Saturday, November 21, 2015

How Not to Get Rich

It's almost needless to say that business pitches like "Get Rich Now!" or "Grow Your Business Revenue by 10x!" or "Earn $90,000 Working From Home!" should be avoided. It's not that these businesses don't want you to succeed, rather it's that their priority is to get you to buy their system or program, at any cost.


Twenty years ago, I was browsing magazines at my local Borders bookstore. A forty-something-year-old man approached me and said, "I can tell, by the magazines you're looking at, that you're an interesting person." Flattery will get you everywhere. After a couple minutes of chit-chat he told me that he trusted me enough to give me a cassette tape with some business opportunities. It only cost me my phone number. I listened to his tape. It was a recording of a 15 minute group presentation about getting rich, living your dreams, having enough money, etc. As I listened, I kept wanting to know more. Specifically, how do I do it? How do I get rich? Then I realized what it was. When he inevitably called me, I asked, "How is this different than Amway?"

"We are Amway," he exclaimed.

Thanks, but no thanks. One of many problems with Amway is that they treat every person as if they can be turned into a hard-sell sales person. That's like assuming we can make every person a software engineer. To each their own. Engineers and sales people are wired differently.


This past week, I attended a free presentation with headlines similar to those I mentioned above. I knew exactly what to expect, and reality was inline with my expectations. These pitches follow the tried and true "amway-ish" techniques. "Would you like to earn an extra $2,000/month?" Of course you would. Who wouldn't?

Here are the simple tell-tale signs:
1. Pump the benefits.
2. Hide the features.
3. Offer a single solution: Buy my money making system.

You'll see the same routine over and over again. These companies will push their benefits hard, with details, without explaining a single, actionable feature other than buying their system. The tripwire is something like, "I charge $500/hour, but I'll give you a free hour to see if you can be accepted into my sales program." Adding scarcity is another key selling point.

Generally, the benefits of their system will be explained, in detail. "I used to do this, but now I do this." This is an excellent story telling technique I learned from Joyce Maynard. "I used to work hard for six months to earn $2,400. Now, I only need to work for six days to earn $24,000. And my program can show you how to do it." While the benefits are plentiful, the features are scarce. The "How is it done?" details are no where to be found during the initial pitch. And, when you hear it, it's almost always a let down.

My guard was down when I was in Borders, flipping through magazines. And cheap sales talk is designed to catch the attention of the unguarded. And, as I mentioned, you'll hear little to no details on the features of the system. In other words, "What do I need to do to achieve success?" or "How does it work?" is missing. That requires signing up for the program.

So, why do people continue to fall for it? PT Barnum is credited with answering that question.

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