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Misleading Advertising

By Chris A. Friar

We've all seen this guy's ads featured in income opportunity publications. He's the guy making anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000 in a few days or weeks. He claims he got rich quick with very little effort and only a few brain cells functioning. He attributes this success to a secret plan or product he is willing to sell you for $20 to $30 bucks.

Now let's step back for a moment and look at this guy's ad. First of all, his ad is usually a page long. The print is micro-small so he may put as many details of his wonderful life on one page for your enjoyment and envy.

After we hunt down our glasses and settle down to read this fascinating "rags to riches" account we become boggled and googly-eyed with the details. These details usually include how broke he was and how now he and his family are buying Mercedes and BMWs every year and taking exotic vacations they only dreamed about. He usually refers himself as "a little guy" just like you. Therefore his ad is strategically written to strike a cord that adheres to those of us looking for a way out of pending financial doom or the nine-to-five grind.

The guy who got rich quick offers you the "sizzle" without even a glimpse of the steak. This type of advertising is usually called 'a blind ad' because we never know what the product is. All we know is that it's a BIG SECRET plan to riches.

The intention is to ask you to buy something without knowing a thing about it. Well you know it made him rich, don't you? No you don't. There is no law against telling stories. There are only laws against misrepresenting products being sold. He doesn't say anything about the product except that it's a money-making plan. As long as it is possible that such a plan could make money for someone under some circumstances, the authorities don't object to it. It makes no difference if the story of the Guy Who Got Rich Quick is total fiction. He's not asking you to pay anything for the story only the secret plan.

Very often the plan is a book or manual consisting of ways to sell by mail. It probably did make him rich. After all, selling things by mail is what he's trying to do with his ad.

Most books sold this way do not tell you anything specific about the experiences of the advertiser. He tells you to pick some product, write an ad and take your money to the bank. It's about as useful as an 8-page manual on how to be a heart surgeon. Never buy anything from a blind ad that doesn't have a solid money-back guarantee.

The fact is that there are no real "get rich quick" plans. The mail order business takes time and money to launch. The Guy Who Got Rich Quick never tells you what he paid for his full page ad. A full page ad in a national publication can cost anywhere from $600 to $2,500 for a one time buy.

He didn't say that you must advertise consistently to be successful in mail order. He also forgot to mention the cost of paper, postage stamps, office equipment and time required to get your offer delivered.

Those of us who are in business for ourselves know that the only secret to making a profit (or riches) is perseverance, a lot of hard work, good management, good customer service, time and commitment.

Brought to you by: World Wide Information Outlet, your only source of FreeWare Content online.

Chris A. Friar is a business reporter and former media relations executive for the largest advertising firm in San Antonio, Texas.

Her articles and advertising critiques have appeared in various local, state and national publications including USA Today. Friar is writer/publisher for Home Grown Business News a publication exploring good and bad business opportunities for those who wish to work at home.

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