On Facebook and YouTube, our social space has recently been invaded by lots of similar advertisements. No, these ads are not from a brand you know, selling a clear product. In fact, after viewing the ad, you’re not exactly sure what’s being sold.
They start something like this: “Hello everyone, I’m ____________ here.” (Fill in names that come to mind)
You have probably seen these videos by self-proclaimed “entrepreneurs” who can’t wait to teach you how to escape the 9-to-5 life.
After showing you subtle “proof of success”, such as filming in a condominium, in a car, or at a tourist attraction, they go on to tell you how great their business is, while then convincing you they are down-to-earth and relatable, such as only recently escaping the rat race themselves, lacking much educational qualifications, or simply speaking in broken English.
Then, they try to sell you the idea that their success is actually simple and foolproof, and you can easily replicate for yourself to earn lots of money and be successful. They use the same techniques as motivational speakers and MLM salespeople, using phrases that resonate with those who are currently struggling in their lives and careers, such as “make easy money”, “travel the world”, and “never answer to a boss again”.
These ads have been carefully crafted to target the most vulnerable among us, but seem harmless, even altruistic on the surface. Here’s why you probably be very sceptical of such videos and not waste your time attending their “free seminars”.
#1 The Best Money-Making Methods Can Never Be Imparted So Easily
If I know a way to generate $1 million a year selling on Amazon while only working for a few hours a day, would I teach you how it works for a few thousand dollars? With a finite market size, more competitors applying the same method means smaller profits for me.
Think about it, there is a “free seminar” every other week, with hundreds of people attending each time, this same technique would be shared with and practised by thousands of people. The chances of every participant being successful is extremely low.
Not only do you not gain anything, but you might also lose money if you have invested a sum of money with the hope of learning more “trade secrets”.
#2 Some Of These “Businesses” Are MLMs In Disguise
Sometimes, the “little-known secret” that these people promise to reveal during their free seminar are just a way to recruit you into a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme.
One of the biggest mistakes we make is that we attend these free seminars with the expectation that we will be taught everything we do not know. We presume that we do not need to study because the course instructors will guide us every step of the way.
This cannot be further from the truth. Just like investing, do your research and find out more about the company before committing. MLM companies drive based on a pyramid scheme, where those at the top (Hint: usually the person in the video) will earn through referrals’ commissions — which is why they are so enthusiastic in recruiting more “students” and “participants”.
The product could be a super expensive subscription to use their exclusive software or platform that you seem to need to make your e-commerce “business” profitable, which you can perhaps get for free or at a discount, if you refer more users.
#3 There Will Always Be A Sales Pitch, Even If They Say There Won’t Be
It costs money to run ads on Facebook and YouTube, and to host seminars. That money will have to come from somewhere. There’s an apt saying that if you’re not paying for something, then you’re probably the product.
At the end of the “get-rich-quick” seminar, these people will try to hard-sell you a package with the promise of more exciting and informative material. The elderly, those who are not so tech-savvy, or those who might be desperate to make money are more vulnerable to falling for such sales pitches. Some might even be convinced to invest money they don’t have, such as by borrowing from friends and family, with the hope of getting greater returns if they worry that they do not have enough money.
In reality, most of these “exclusive information” they plan to sell you can be found online for free, or at a low cost. For instance, they might claim to know the secrets of Facebook marketing and help your business succeed. However, what they eventually teach might just be the fundamentals of social media marketing, or how to use Facebook tools to reach a greater audience. There is absolutely no reason to spend thousands of dollars just to hear them repeat information that they probably got online themselves.
#4 These Advertisers Are Capitalising On The FIRE Movement And e-Commerce Wave
FIRE is an acronym for “Financial Independence, Retire Early”. With the cost of goods and services rising in Singapore, it is no wonder most of us are anxious to build a huge reserve of savings.
So, when an opportunity to earn fast money arises, it is easy to get tempted. However, just because these people throw out words such as “financial independence”, it doesn’t mean you should believe their sales pitch.
With online shopping becoming increasingly common, many businesspeople also want to teach you how to sell products that customers want to buy, or so they claim. Student testimonials attempt to sway you into believing that the unbelievable is possible. Remember that success stories, if they are even true, are likely to be the exception and not the norm.
Not Necessarily Illegal Scams, Though Some Might Be
Always remember that it takes a lot of hard work to succeed. There is almost no proven success or time-tested method to go from zero to earning millions of dollars in a few months.
Practise common sense, and always remember that if something is too good to be true, it probably is. Before handing over a single dollar to anyone, use Google to look for reviews of past seminar participants or do background research on how trustworthy the “trainer” is. Speak to friends and family to get multiple opinions to protect yourself from buying into the hype.
At the end of the day, if you really want to grow your wealth, consider attending legitimate investment courses that teach you how to plan and track your finances, or improve your earnings capacity by upgrading yourself.
Listen to our podcast, where we have in-depth discussions on finance topics that matter to you.