Why You Should Be Very, Very Cautious When Using Print And Mail Advertising……(written September 1995)

Unfortunately over the years, though print and mail advertising has helped many people succeed, it has also become the breeding ground for rip-off artists and therefore has hurt many people’s chances of succeeding. I have written many articles about print & mail – how to use it to maximize response, what to watch out for, does it work, etc. But my reason for writing today is to warn you to be very, very cautious when it comes to print and mail advertising. I have seen way too many scammers out there, who are just lining up to steal your money from you. So be very, very cautious! In fact, if you think I am full of it, then don’t use anybody ever!!  Just do your own mailings. Then you will know for sure that your mailings are done and you won’t have to worry.

There are two primary reasons for these rip-off artists to be successful. The first one is that no matter what, you can never be absolutely sure your item was mailed – by anybody – that is a fact. So Joe Schmoe can start advertising really fantastic print and mail prices, get orders, and never fill them. So what if you complain. He’ll just give you the next answer which is reason number 2 – your offer was mailed and there is no way anybody can guarantee responses – which happens to be 100% true. For example, I used a card deck service recently that mailed my 2-sided free information postcard to 100,000 people. I got 27 replies. Just 27 replies for free information out of 100,000. Who am I to blame? The service? The card itself? That is the problem, if I do a mailing for you or if anybody does a mailing for you, you could be in for a real shock!! You could get little or no response completely legitimately – it happens all the time – in all aspects of every business. So before you invest any of your hard earned money for any promotion, whether it be through a service or through your own mailings, get that through your head. The chances of failing are far greater than the chances of succeeding.  Why do you think less than 6% of this great country of ours is self-employed?  If advertising promotion were so simple, wouldn’t 94% of the people be self-employed instead? These are the two primary reasons why the scammers succeed.

How do you protect yourself from print & mail scams that have been circulating in great detail lately and obviously they need to be stopped now! The only way they can be stopped is if you decide not to fall prey to their outrageous and ridiculous claims. Here are the red flags to watch out for (these are red flags – not reasons not to use them): #1) Are they operating out of postal boxes or mail drops (by the way, a mail drop is a company like Mail Box Etc. that allow people to rent a “box” from them to use their address. You know it is a mail drop when you see the letters “PMB” before a number. The postal service requires all mail drops to use this format, so once you see a “PMB” in their address, you know they are using someone else’s address. Why is this a red flag?  Do they work out of a mail drop or postal box? I use a postal box to receive mail, but I also have a real street address I advertise also – shouldn’t they if they are for real? #2) Are they listed in their telephone directory? Call 1-their area code-555-1212. Why is this a red flag? They are a legitimate business but they have no telephone number?  There may be a few exceptions to this rule, but highly unlikely. #3) Are they listed with their local BBB?  Try www.bbb.org. Get their track record – no track record? Bad sign. Why? That means they are just starting out, which means they need to go through their own growing pains before they can help you with yours.  If these 3 red flags exist, I would then suggest you trash their offer – no matter how good it looks – no matter how enticing their offer is. You will be very, very disappointed if you order. There are two companies right now advertising all over and they are promising you the world and I would guess, giving you garbage! All legitimate printing and all legitimate print and mail businesses, no matter what excuse they may try to give you, have a telephone number for someone to contact – not a flunky salesman who makes commission off of you, but the actual owner. Two companies I have seen recently utilize a fax on demand service, which you can call and get their information and they have the scammer’s number to call. When you call it all you get is a recording hyping you even further with more nonsense on how great their service is. There is even one company trying to pawn off a 50% commission dealership off already ridiculously low prices.

However if you think I am a jerk and I don’t know what the heck I am talking about, here is your surest way to make sure you are not ripped off by any print & mail company – just write and ask to be put on their mailing list.  You know what to me this is the proof in the pudding as to how I know for sure companies are scamming you or not. Isn’t it funny that we see dozens of print & mail companies advertising great rates, yet I have never – ever received a sample – not one – mailing from any of them. That is kind of odd, isn’t it?  Let’s face it. I am on a lot of lists. So it would be impossible to not receive at least one sample mailing from any of these companies over a years’ time. But to make sure I am 100% correct, I send every one of them my wife’s name at a different address and most of the time I never receive one sample mailing copy. Once in a while I get a first class mailing in response to my request, which then I know for sure they are scammers – there is no way they can mail at such ridiculously low rates and not do it bulk standard third class mail – just no way! But if you do get a sample from them bulk mail, that is a good sign because you can then check with that post office of mailing or you can ask the print & mail company to provide a couple sample receipts proving they are mailing what they claim. To date of the dozens of print and mail companies that I see advertising every day, I still have never received a sample from any of them – ever! As I said above, if you think I am full of it, then don’t use any of us.  It is not my intention to spread ill will on anybody, nor hurt anybody in anyway what so ever. If I ever am proven wrong, then I definitely will retract every statement I make regarding this issue and make sure that everyone who ever has received my mailings gets that apology and retraction.  However I am fully 100% confident it won’t ever happen though. There are only a few of us who are legitimate and we are easily accessible through the telephone, the fax, and/or through e-mail. Plus we can easily provide documented proof of our claims of circulation. If we can’t that is a very serious red flag – I suggest staying away from those companies.

By the way, another thing a lot of these print & mail scammers do is invent testimonials to fool you into thinking they are legitimate – trying to camouflage the fact you can’t reach them. If you ever wish to see the original copy of any of the testimonials you see listed on any of my material, simply send me a self addressed stamped envelope and request it. I will send you a copy of the original I have on file. That is another way you can weed out the scammers.

Lastly if you want my opinion about a company or to know what I already know about a company, then please send me a self addressed stamped envelope and on the outside of it, print the words, ”print & mail article info request”.  I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you for listening and god bless.  Peace.

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