In this lesson, I aim to show you a popular method that scrupulous marketers use to seduce unwary opportunity-seekers into purchasing inferior and downright worthless digital products. The scams noted throughout these lessons do not represent all online scams but they do account for those that net millions of dollars of your hard-earned money. Knowledge is your best defense against becoming a victim. Welcome to this Series of Lessons on how to spot an online scam. Examples will come from various reviews already on this website that will be compiled as examples for each point throughout.
The Dark and Harmful Side of Advertising
We see it everywhere we go. It’s on our televisions, favourite magazines, on billboards. It lines our streets, we find it in our mail, even included with the bills we get. There’s even screens at some gas pumps that blurt it out. Yes, you even find it in some restrooms staring you in the face when you are reliving yourself! It’s just everywhere…and it’s a permanent part of American, European and many other Westernized societies.
With so much of this static going on, now for generations, is it any wonder we have become dumbed-down by it? Indeed, for years we have been taken in by it. It has become such a science of marketing engineers that it is very often slipped into our minds through the subsconscious without our knowledge! There’s good advertising and there is very bad, and much of it is hardly distinguishable to the average person these days. To consumers, especially Westerners, advertising is regarded as a normal part of life – which it is – but very few give any thought about how harmful it can be.
It is extremely seductive – a term that is in fact, encouraged by marketing experts and encouraged by authors and professors who teach business and advertising. In their training, one entering the field of advertising quickly learn how to seduce and entice consumers. This isn’t so much of a bad thing if it is used ethically. It becomes a weapon when it gets into the wrong hands. From my experiences, there seems to be more wrong hands than any other. Customer seduction is not new. Shown in the image to the right is an example from the 19th century, the original source of what we now call ‘snake oil’ products or salesmen today. Whether or not the image here is fake or genuine, it certainly portrays typical medicinal offers of the period. I suggest to you that this practice still goes on today in not-so-blatant, modernized ways, which we shall see.
What Kind of Online Scams Will Be Covered?
These lessons cover a common variety of online scams that go on unchecked, usually from behind the borders of countries that pay little attention to the problem and let it continue without incident. There are entire marketplaces that are almost completely full of worthless and inferior products that have been dolled up by their advertising campaigns. We see them as apps designed to spam Facebook, Wikipedia, Instagram and many other social media and other authority websites. These companies are in constant siege from these unscrupulous marketers and must constantly put forth revenue to battle against it.
Clickbank and other reputable marketplaces have cleaned house of this rubbish, causing the emergence of pirate dens such as the infamous ClickSure, which at face value, looks very similar to the reputable counterparts. These dastardly operations are the supply houses for online scam products. They do not care about reputation. They exist solely on sheer demand for their services to provide an outlet for their thrown-together, worthless digital products with advertising campaigns that are as full of lies and misinformation as they can be without being discovered by the eyes of unwary opportunity-seekers that get pulled in by faulty, but highly effective advertising.
This Series of Lessons cover, not so much the products themselves, but the advertising campaigns that are used to promote the products. Since the advertising campaigns are the vanguard of the products, obviously, this is where the damage occurs and the agent that separates the honest, hard-working person, YOU, from your money in exchange for the rubbish you get in return.
The Typical Anatomy of an Online Product/Service Scam
Unscrupulous marketers usually show up in your email accounts as an offer for some sort breakthrough product or service that is highly inflated and very convincing. You probably have never seen an email from such sender, but one thing to be wary about – they sometimes spoof entities you get email from that you know and trust. Hence, they get their message to you.
The link in the email typically leads to a sales video, but not always. It may be text-only but filled with glitter and glamour and promises of great wealth that comes from using the “breakthrough” product being offered. Very often the call-to-action demands immediate attention as they use a common fallacy known as “scarcity tactics.” There are many ways this is typically done – through count-downs and availability.
The sales video usually cannot be controlled. You have “play” and “pause,” and no way to review without starting the video over again. The video or text rarely shows the product itself. This is VERY important! Instead you will be shown pleasureable events, expensive cars, mansions and flaunting of wealth. Very often these videos start out with a rags-to-riches story. Highly elabourate and carnival-looking screens of tall figures and little effort on your part are flashed before your eyes – eye candy a proper term for this. An advertising trick often used in legitimate and non-legitimate offers seek to get you involved. One such attempt gets you to turn up your speakers at the beginning of a video. Have you ever gotten a Publisher’s Clearing House offer that when opened, you are presented with taking stickers provided inside the envelope and pasting them to another piece of the mail? Getting you involved with the piece of advertisement is the first step in getting you hooked. It works and should not be discounted!
If you decline and attempt to leave the page, you will usually be presented with (WAIT!) dialogs enticing you to stay on the page. If you do leave, a screen may come up with a reduced cost or even free [you need this!] screen. If you accept the offer, you will typically be greeted by upsells. Decline on any of these and you will receive downsell offers, more upsell offers or any other type of offer designed to get you purchasing something.
Very often, I’ve found that it’s not the product itself that holds any value, though you are certainly presented with inflated perceived value, once having purchased the product, you will be offered such services as hosting for other items you need with the product, expensive coaching and other services which may or may not be legitimate. These are usually extremely expensive.
A Rather Dry But Extremely Beneficial Recommended Course
Critical thinking is an important discipline which helps students assess and analyze information, including offers. Advertising is but one such application, and online digital product/service advertising will be studied here. There are courses offered in colleges, in books at your local public library and online. Critical thinking is a casual term that refers to a course of study of argumentation (not to be confused with loud, fruitless and boisterous fighting or disagreement) or logic. Quoting from Wikipedia, critical thinking is “the process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion.“
As you might expect, such course would fall in line with other courses, such as mathematics, foreign languages and computer programming, as the course material can be quite tedious and requires sustained effort to learn, but mastery, or even awareness of this material is highly rewarding. You will never view advertising the same way again! I highly recommend anyone reading this to investigate critical thinking. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of sources available, many without cost.
The importance of a course of study like this, independent of the lessons I have here (but will refer from time to time to concepts found in critical thinking) cannot be underestimated. You will learn how to view any form of argumentation through rationality, not emotionally, which, in and of itself, will provide a wall of protection between you and malicious advertising. Portions of this course of study hit directly upon advertising and exposes many of the logical fallacies that are typically used in modern advertising, not in any attempt to be foolish, but that the fallacies work.
Shady online offers typically include digital products that purport to make life easier and promise great wealth to users. Very often these products do the exact opposite and the only ones making the money are the unscrupulous marketers who create this rubbish and promote them using whatever means they can to hook whomever they can. The rest of the lessons here will explore in greater depth, the harmful elements found in seemingly harmless and often convincing-looking advertisements.
In Lesson 2, we will explore customer seduction. What is it and how is it used? Find out here.