How To Avoid Internet Marketing Scams

I consider myself an optimist. At least in my heart, I believe most people are good and want to help others. That’s a great quality if you want to let yourself get ripped off until you blow your retirement fund, kids’ college fund and any hopes of a nice life.

Fortunately, my brain, as undeveloped as it is, is much, much more skeptical. I assume that, at leat on the Internet, everyone has an angle. They all want to make money and I’m their personal ATM. Regardless how many “Dear Dave” letters or “To your success” salutations they send me, the want one thing: my money.

So, I guess I’m optimistically skeptical or skeptically optimistic. At any rate, I learned something from the people of Missouri. I am the “Show Me” person. Before I get involved in any Internet business, I need proof that it’s not a scam, it will work form me and it has staying power.

Before I go further, let me point out that this approach was developed over a period of time, after I got burned badly by scams, bait and switch schemes, false advertising, etc. Yes, I’m cynical, but I’m keeping my money where it belongs: in my wallet (or invested). Further, I’m finally making money, but that’s a different, although extremely happy, story.

Here are my __ steps for approaching a new opportunity:

1. Does it sound too good to be true? It probably is. Get rich quick schemes almost never work. This doesn’t mean you can’t check them out (details below), but promises of instant wealth are generally empty promises.

2. Look at the source for the advertisement. Is it from someone you know and trust? Then it may have passed the first hurdle and deserve more investigation. If not, you’re going to have to really do your homework, as discussed below. Here’s one rule I have, coming from my skeptical brain: if I receive from the same person many, many offers to join programs, I have no faith that he/she believes in the program. He/she is only in it for the affiliate commission of referring new members. In fact, I lose faith in all his/her emails and just delete them. Recently, I joined what I thought was a respectable web site for referrals/leads. Next thing I know, the owners (not members) are sending me over 10 emails per day asking me to join the next great web site. In just a week I’m receiving at least 50 emails about different sites. Do you think they really believe in these sites, or are they getting some kind of a kickback (e.g., affiliate commissions)? No one can truly believe in and promote that many programs!

3. Do your homework. When I see an opportunity that interests me, I do some digging. I Google the company. And its founders. I check for complaints with the BBB. I talk to as many members as I can. I try to find former members to whom I can speak. I ask members tough questions:

* How much are you making?
* How much do you spend on advertising? What type of advertising?
* What type of training do you get?
* What type of benefits do you get in your back office?
* How is the support?
* Do you get support from your sponsor?
* How much time per week do you spend on this program?
* It says X, Y and Z on your web site. Can you explain to me how X, Y and Z work?
* Why did you decide to join this program? Any regrets?

If they start waffling, change the subject or just refuse to give an answer — RED FLAG! I don’t work with people who aren’t honest with me, and neither should you. With that in mind, remember that there are certain things (processes for making money, etc.) that they probably can’t tell you as that is one of the benefits of membership.

If you find that the information you receive is different than what is advertised, then ask them why. Also, remember, if you’re talking to someone currently in the program, he/she is trying to get you to sign up. Be wary of his/her answers! Listen for tone and whether he/she is trying to change the subject. Don’t let your desire to make money get in the way of your instincts. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Also, don’t be surprised if they try to brush you off; they’ve been trained to get rid of the “tire kickers.” In other words, they only want money from people who don’t exercise intelligence and inquire about the program that they are considering joining. Remember, it’s your money; you have a right to know on what your spending it.

4. As mentioned above, don’t get too emotional. Sure, you want to make money, but your rational side must take over to determine if this really is a way for you to make money.

5. Limit the amount of programs in which you inovlve yourself. For some people, internet marketing can be addictive. You cannot effectively promote 50 products. You’ll exhaust yourself, and probably fail. Concentrate on one or two programs and consider expanding when you’re in profit mode. (I made this mistake, trust me.)

6. Be careful with advertising. There are lots of good advertising sources out there, and there are some that just don’t work. Consider joining an Internet marketers forum (they are generally free) and find a discussion group about advertising so you can find what others think are the most effective way to advertise/promote your web site. And be very careful with pay-per-click advertising. Sure, it’s very targeted advertising, but cost can be astronomical if you don’t know what you’re doing.