Were You Ripped Off? (written January, 1990)

The answer to the title question is yes! You certainly were ripped off. Who ripped you off is the question you ask? You did! You ripped yourself off!  You have no one else to blame other than that person you look at in the mirror each morning. How can I say this? This article is going to explain why I made the above statement. All you really have to do is use a little common sense. For you see this is not for the novice – the person who has a lot to learn. Everything I say is not some sort of a “secret”. It’s not a “magical solution” to your problems. What you are about to read is a “beginning”.  A “beginning” to understand and learn about this business. Yes – this is a business! This is not a quick way to make money. MLM is a business!

All too many times, advertisers come back to me and say, “I ripped them off!” “I didn’t do the mailings which they had paid for!” Many times people also come to me with similar complaints about other dealers.  99% of the time these advertisers who complain are basing the above accusatory statements on response rates. They got little or none of it, so consequently they feel the mailings were not done. Therefore I ripped them off!

I got news for you buddy. You were ripped off. Not by me, but by yourself! You were stupid enough to fall for the false claims made by these illegal “money game” promotions. You know the claims I am talking about: “A retired postal inspector and his wife joined”; “A little 97 year old lady just mailed out 5 letters and received over $50,000 in cash”; etc., etc. 97% of all advertising (even the big boys) fails to breakeven!  Usually it fails because of the offer itself. When you join into an illegal “money scheme” or even a legitimate MLM program, do you think that their literature is going to tell you that you have to invest time, money and effort in order to succeed?  Of course they are not going to tell you this because that’s what you don’t want to hear. You want to hear that by joining now before everyone else and only mailing out a few thousand copies and doing hardly any work, you will become rich! That’s what you want to hear. I want to hear that myself!

However there is a problem. If you believe what these brochures say, you are living in a fantasyland!  It’s not reality. I would love to be the first one to tell you that all you have to do is nothing but collect paychecks.  Unfortunately no business will succeed unless you put a sufficient amount of time, energy and investment dollars into it first before you become rich! You don’t want to hear that. But if you believe otherwise, you are a fool!  And every one of these “money scams” and MLM programs know that you will fall prey to their unsubstantiated claims of riches because you are waiting to be plucked.  Yes it’s a shame that you were ripped off. But you have no one else to blame other than yourself.

Why did you rip yourself off? Easy! You are probably a good person at heart who wishes to share the riches of the world with your family. Consequently you search for the quickest, easiest, least expensive way possible for this to occur. You are no different than everyone else – including myself. We all have dreams but no dream can ever come true unless we work for it! Consequently we let our dreams and wishes get into the way of our common sense. So these dreams of ours become daydreams. Of course all these guys with advertising savvy and experience also know this and are waiting for you to answer their exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims so that they make more and more money. Unfortunately after you read their gibberish and you are such a good hearted trusting person, you join into a few programs, maybe a few money games, thinking that one of them has got to work. Down the line a few months later, you realize that none of them are working and you just lost a lot of money. Why? You may ask yourself? Instead of realizing that you have to invest more money, time and effort, you figure “it must have been that print and mailer!”

Let me share this information with you. Since 97% of all advertising fails, what makes you think that what you are doing is better than the pros?  Do you think that you can successfully build a downline mailing out a few thousand brochures when no one has ever done this? In fact no one has ever successfully built a complete downline through the mails. No one! If you joined a program and asked the upline participants what you should expect as a response rate, do you think they are going to tell you the truth? Or do you think they are going to say what you want to hear? If they told you the truth – yes the truth hurts – you would never join into any of these programs! Facts are that if you get ¼% of a response, you are doing well. Not 2%! Not 1%! One quarter of a percent! Yes you read that right! One quarter of a percent! Sounds low doesn’t it? Well did you ever get a 2% response from any mailings? If you did, I suggest you stick with that mailing – forever! Chances are you haven’t though because you don’t understand “good advertising techniques”. Yes I have gotten as much as a 46% response rate to some mailings. Why? How? Well I made a fantastic offer to a very specialized list of prospects. That’s one of the problems with MLM or “money games”. There is no specialization with the lists that are used. When you mail out a bunch of offers together, it’s impossible to be specialized other than to active MLMer’s. But what is an active MLMer? You know what a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant is? You know what a printer is. What is an active MLMer? An MLMer can be all of these professions or none of them.

When I hear this statement, “I find it hard to believe you mailed out 5,000 circulars for me and I didn’t even get one reply”, my answer is this, “I can’t believe you are stupid enough to make such a statement when you have no idea what you should be getting in the first place”. The problem is specialization or should I say the lack of it. There isn’t any of it so we must work with low response rates. Low response rates are OK to work with and you still can make money, but first you must understand that response rates are low to start with!

So before you rip yourself off again, do a little testing this time! Before you have me mail out some flyers for you, test it. Do a small “simple” test mailing of 1000 pieces yourself. Get about 5-10 different offers (they all could be your offers) and rent a small mailing list from any mail order list dealer. Collate, stuff, and mail out these pieces bulk mail and wait for your responses to come “rolling in”.  When you get your one reply back and that reply was trying to solicit you into some other great MLM program, you’ll know why I say I didn’t rip you off!  Before you know what you should be getting from my mailing, you have to compare “apples with apples” and before you point a finger at me – look into the mirror! What are you doing? Do you have a business plan? Do you understand a business takes time, energy and money?            Do you read books on mail order?

You usually are not comparing “apples with apples” when you compare my mailings with yours. My mailings go out bulk mail with 4-10 different money making offers in them. Are your mailings like this?  Since your mailings are nothing like mine, how do you know what you should be getting as a response rate? Don’t get me wrong. A zero response rate stinks! I’ll be the first to admit it and I will be the first to try to help you understand what could have gone wrong. I also will be the first to help you correct and better your promotions. But for God’s sake, I will not deal with anyone who accuses me of ripping them off!  Would you? How would you feel if you were accused of ripping someone off when you know you didn’t?  Before you accuse me or anyone else of dirty play, think how you would feel if you are wrong about your accusation.

Does anyone who knows you even know that you are in business? You currently work your present job 8 hours a day. How long did it take you to learn your job inside out? A few years? Well what makes you think you know everything there is to know about mail order and response rates in just a few hours a week? Well what! As I told you in the first paragraph just use a little common sense! Mail order is a business! A very good business!

Just like any business, it requires a lot of your time, energy and money. Yes money! Contrary to all those ridiculous claims out there, you can’t make any of the green stuff if you don’t spend any of it. This business is so misunderstood it’s pathetic! That’s a shame because I believe this is a great business to be in!

This is a great business! I don’t want to discourage you. I don’t want to insult you. I just want you to think!  This is a great business. But like any business, time, effort and investment of money is required. Be realistic. Set goals. Learn everyday by reading books, articles, anything on mail order. Work with advertising professionals, like myself. Don’t accuse others of your mistakes. Take responsibility for yourself and your actions.  I am living proof that if you are a hard worker, treat this business as a business and are a little lucky, you can be very successful. You can do it!

I believe that in order to succeed, you just can’t advertise in just one place or a few places. You must advertise consistently and in volume each and every month! No if’s, and’s or but’s! When I say consistently, I am referring to the amount of places you advertise. All too many times, advertisers place an ad with me and sit back and wait for the orders to roll in. Why? Where did you learn this from? How about using a little common sense? A couple of examples may shed some light on this.

Let’s take your local hardware store for example. This guy is probably no different than you and me. The only difference is that his interest is in rakes, paints, screens, etc. whereas our interest is in MLM and mail order. Doesn’t your local hardware store advertise in the local papers? Don’t they advertise in the local church advertisers? Don’t they advertise in the Yellow Pages? Don’t they give away calendars with their name on them at the end of the year? Don’t they do all this? Why? Why don’t they save their advertising dollars and just rely on the fact they exist? Won’t enough customers just walk in and make them money?  Or maybe they can advertise in just one place just like you do? I’ll tell you why your local hardware store advertises everywhere they can afford to: Because with all the competition out there and the fact that people don’t know that they exist, if they didn’t advertise, you would see that hardware store close up out of business mighty fast! Your local hardware store owner understands that their potential customer must see their name “everywhere”. They know some customers will answer his ad from their first advertisement and some will answer their ad from their second advertisement and some will answer their ad from their 10th advertisement. They then add all these “little pieces” of business together and wow! Now your local hardware store owner has some business going!

Here is another example. Myself. Don’t you see my ads in every publication that you get in the mails? If all I had to do was my own mailings, why do I waste my time and money advertising in other places? I’ll tell you why. Consistency! Sure all of you have seen my ads at one time or another for many years, but all of you haven’t ordered. Why? It could be for any reason but by my consistently keeping my “name” in front of you, I am always on your mind.

When you advertise in many different places, like I do, and like your local hardware store owner, you are giving yourself what is referred to as an “advertising mix”. The mix is the various people who read the different publications. The reason you get some business from one ad and some from another is because of the “advertising mix”. Not all publications are mailed to the same people. Each publisher mails to a certain portion of different people and therefore you get different “advertising mixes” with each publication.  Then when you advertise in many different places, you are giving yourself a total “advertising mix”. This way if one publication is not doing well, another one will pick up the “slack”. Get into the mix! The second part of the equation is volume! Volume is easy to get when you consistently advertise because the numbers add up. The key is to advertise in as many different places as you can with the maximum circulation in each. Then you take all the “little pieces” of business you get from each one (remember we already realize that low percentages is what this industry is all about) and wow! You are now making some money. You should always do a test mailing of 5,000 minimum. Never do a test mailing of less than 5,000!

But before you go full blast, make sure your offer is worth it. As I have said many times, try and be a little creative. Try to be a little different from everyone else. You will not create a top flight ad at first, but follow these key successful points in all your ads and you will never fail: 1) your name should be in your ad. You can also have a business name, but remember that “people like to deal with people”; 2) your telephone number should be in the ad. People like to know that the person advertising is a human being and does exist and may want to hear your voice. Make sure you have an answering machine so every call is answered all of the time; 3) give your initial information away for free. If your information has any merit, people will buy when you follow up with them.  Follow these three (3) rules: be a little creative, work hard, study, invest some money and you will not fail!

Were you ripped off? Yes you were. But before you come back to me and accuse me of anything, remember that I have been in this business many years! I have printing receipts, mailing receipts and many satisfied customers. I don’t say this to brag. I say this so you might look at yourself. This article you are reading is based on my many years of feedback. I had to put extra effort to put this together. It just doesn’t happen overnight. You and I make things happen. So before you accuse anyone of anything, look into the mirror my friends!

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.