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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Oh dear. Rumblings in the internet jungle. The cash-flood is drying up - and here's why

Before the first great British share crash - the South Sea Bubble in 1720 - investors were falling for the most outrageous scams. The best known, perhaps, was "a company for carrying out an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is."

This reminds me irresistibly of what has been happening on the internet - which I fear will end in tears before bedtime for a few people

All of a sudden those geniuses whose miracle money-making formulae have been producing torrents of cash for the last years are worried. The cash geyser seems to be slowing to a trickle

Why? Why are these messages not working quite so well? You know - those that start "My good friend Bill Hogwash has this secret method that spews cash into your bank account even if you can't read and write, and it's yours for FREEE."

Why do more and more people yawn and mutter "Not again" when invited to that free webinar featuring the unshaven oaf with a pot-belly in the T-shirt who was broke three months ago but now spends his entire time lolling on golden sands and working 23 minutes a week?

Of course these scamps (why are so many in Texas, by the way?) are still doing some business - there is still one mug born every second - but not like they did.

It's not as though people realise that the boys all get together and cook up the next rip-off. But things are going to get worse (or rather better) and let me tell you why. First of all, there aren't so many people coming into the market now. Second, people get jaded if subjected to too much of anything.

But besides that there are three stages in all markets.

When you're the first to come up with an idea you just have to make promises, really. No matter how ludicrous, as long as the promises are big enough and the story enticing enough, you'll do well.

Then comes the second stage. Competitors emerge: you have to be a bit smarter. Don't just tell people they'll get rich, say it's $242,862 in 24 hours, show the cash coming in, stick in a few testimonials.

Then there's the third stage. Everybody's got into the act. The punters are getting wise. You had better, too. You have to explain a bit more. You have to recall David Ogilvy's great line: "The consumer is not a moron. She is your wife."

Don't get me wrong. Many of the ideas being proposed are absolutely valid.

The product launch formula is just an internet version of what Hollywood has done for decades, and P. T. Barnum did long before. It IS true that if you dream of something in detail it is more likely (but not certain) to come true. It is true that with advice from somebody good, you'll do better. But you don't have to pay $10,000 and join some magic circle of acolytes to do so. Just read the stuff and act.

The thing is, when you're the first to stumble on an idea, your copy can stink and you'll do OK. But a lot of these scamsters' copy is not all that good - you know, stuff beginning with "I gotta tell ya". A lot of it breaks the first rule - don't talk about yourself, talk about your customer.

One of my heroes is the late Charley Brower, who ran B.B.D&0. "Honesty is not only the best policy. It is rare enough nowadays to make you pleasantly conspicuous."

Anyhow, having got that off my chest, if it makes sense why don't you go to draytonbird.net/copywritingseminar.

I announced this on Sunday evening. There are only 24 seats left.

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