I just received a voicemail from an amazingly sincere, genuine-sounding coaching “guru.” She went on and on about how she wants to give back to me and show her tremendous appreciation. All I have to do is visit her web page for details.

I visited. It turned out to be a long-form sales letter. You know the type: they mix testimonials with sincere-sounding stories and revelations of how the writer was poor, destitute, and reduced to eating their own belt in an attempt to find protein as they lived out of their car. Then suddenly they discovered the secret to everything and now you can have a little bit of their juicy goodness by attending their wonderful seminar for just $X hundred dollars. (Even though they’ve enjoyed a seven figure income for years, they are charging you for the information for your own good, of course.)

Halfway through reading her site, I began to feel the urge to attend the seminar. I realized that I’ve never made seven figures a year. Looking at all the pictures of the people who have attended and now blow their nose into genuine, gold leaf toilet paper made my knees quiver with a mixture of jealousy and painful feelings of inadequacy.

Then I noticed what I was feeling. I noticed the longing to attend her seminar. I noticed the inappropriately intense emotional reaction I was having. I closed the page, added her phone number to my voicemail spam box, and am adding her email newsletter to my spam filter list as well.

Psychologically manipulative long-form sales letters work really well. I highly recommend developing a knee-jerk reaction to them: delete them and consider the seller totally and completely discredited in your mind. If someone has something of value to offer, refuse to listen until they show you in a non-manipulative way. Ask for a sample. Ask for statistics. “How many of your students are now enjoying a 7-figure income? How long did it take them?” Ask for references. “Please give me their phone#s so I may call and verify.”

Anyone who claims to be a multi-gazillionaire who is generously helping you out if you pay them just a few hundred dollars is a scam artist. If you’re rich and want to give back, give. Don’t sell, give. You don’t have to do it as formal philanthropy, just offer your stuff for free. Coach Marshall Goldsmith, one of the most successful and highly paid coaches in the world, gives away everything he does for free at http://www.MarshallGoldsmithLibrary.com. As he once told me, “I have more money than I could ever spend, why should I charge people when what I care about is helping them?”

If you’re using long-form sales letters in your own business, try seeing if you can resort to selling your product on its own merits. If the answer is “No,” improve your product until you can.

It’s important to note, however, that if I send a long form sales letter, you must buy my products, make me a billionaire, pay for mansions for me, lots of  Rolls Royces, and scantily clad models on both arms. I may be outraged, but I’m not stupid…

My psyche was just hijacked by a sweet sounding, m…

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