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Scams, Schemes, and Sales Pitches: How to Spot the Differences

Schemes, Scams, and Sales PitchesThe internet is the new land of opportunity, and salesmen, schemers, and scammers know this fact well. Around the net are found some wonderful ways to earn an income as well as plenty of ways to lose your shirt. How does one know what to jump into and what to avoid?

Apply Offline Wisdom to Online Opportunities

You’ve no doubt hear that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. With the advent of social media, we have to tweak this just a bit because the entire web 2.0 movement has been built on giving away things that are too good to be free. There really are stellar deals available – just check out Groupon, Living Social, BundleHunt, or Mighty Deals to see for yourself. So yes, it’s possible to spend a little and get a lot in this new economy. But…

To spend $47 for access to someone’s secret system for raking in precisely $147,286.19 in less than 24 hours on autopilot? Maybe your “something creepy” radar should kick in and prevent you from buying. There are great bargains around (I know this from watching my wife buy shoes) but some things really are too good to be true.

Define Your Own Ethics of Earning

If you refuse to take advantage of someone’s lack of experience with the web, then you probably don’t want to buy into an opportunity that does just that. There are a number of values that help me decide when to reject what might otherwise be a good opportunity to earn an income. Here are some questions to guide you as you define your ethics of earning…

  • Will I promote products with marketing imagery I wouldn’t want my third grader to see (I won’t)?
  • Will I promote a bait-and-switch deal (Not me)?
  • Will I disclose my affiliations? Will I do so with every link (I don’t), or with a more general statement (I do)?
  • Will I mis-represent the potential earnings from an opportunity and present the false assurance of profit?
  • Will I promote an inferior product over a superior choice because I might earn more money?
  • Will I send unsolicited offers (spam) via email?

And there are many other questions to ask. Answering them helps you be discerning when determining what you’ll attach your name to.

Look for the Tell-Tale Signs of a Scam

There is a difference between a scam and a scheme. Schemes may actually produce some positive results, but can threaten your brand in ways that outweigh the benefits. Scams are illegal or outright unethical and intend to cheat people out of their money.

Never give out your social security number, bank account numbers, or credit card information unless you are 100% sure you can trust the recipient. The display of a seal or guarantee is nice, but also easy to duplicate, especially if you’re a savvy scammer. If you don’t know the brand, use a third-party payment system such as PayPal, or click through and verify the SSL certificat’s validity.

Read reviews of products before buying. Amazon, Google, and social networking searches are great for this. In the internet marketing niche, Warrior Forum has an active community of marketers who regularly point out scams to each other. Do some background checks.

Be Extremely Careful Around Schemes

Scheme has a very negative connotation, and it should. We should be wary of schemes. Our sense of caution can keep us from wasting money. But sometimes (on very rare occasions) a scheme might be worth further investigation. What looks like a scheme might really be a viable income earning opportunity that won’t violate our ethics or damage our brand. Or there may at least be something to squeeze from it. But there are some road rules worth remembering.

  1. Don’t always buy on your first visit. Why? Because when you click away, you may be offered a better deal. And, you need to think it through as you do any other purchase. Impulse buys almost always lead to remorse.
  2. Look for demos and tours of products so you can “try before you buy.”
  3. If an opportunity promises a return, but there are no details whatsoever about how that return will be obtained, walk away.
  4. See your way through catch (or “cash”) phrases such as “put loads of money in your wallet today!!!” and “drive hordes of traffic to your website.” Look for substance. Some promises of increased traffic might be legitimate, but if there is no hint of a legitimate source of traffic, walk away.
  5. Be aware of upsells. If you commit to buy something, there will be upsells. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s a classic sales tactic employed by nearly every successful business. Amazon is the king of upsells. But sometimes you’re buying nothing more than access to an upsell. Get a refund if you find out this is the case.
  6. Learn to spot stupid marketing. Do you really think there are only 300 148 17 3 copies remaining of this digitally downloadable resource?
  7. Ignore the phrase “valued at.” If someone is marketing a 100 page ebook on how to blog and it’s “valued at $497″ one must ask according to whom? Is the $497 ebook, being sold for just $47, really worth more than a 240-page hardback book about blogging from one of the world’s most well-known and successful bloggers?
  8. Become familiar with the person behind the offer.

In short, be smart. Be a tightwad. Demand honesty and information. Look for disclosure and transparency. Expect real value or ask for a refund.

Value Legitimate Opportunities

Not all sales pitches are evil. Not all landing pages are bastians of evil. And not all “systems” are junk. But don’t expect to get rich quickly. It’s far better for your soul to work and to earn an income than to receive floods of instant cash, whether you realize it or not.

So value legitimate opportunities. Promote them. It’s positive reinforcement to those who are finding creative ways of marketing truly helpful products. Run from the scams. Walk carefully around the schemes. And validate good, honest sales pitches. Then enjoy the results of blogging for an online income.

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