Sunday, June 22, 2008

Today on the show: Financial scams

Sometimes I like to mix up the topics to avoid just being "the show that talks about how there is still no God." Because of this, I'm returning to one of my favorite critical thinking subjects: financial scams. I'll be discussing three examples of scams that I've spent time discussing in the past: Chain letters, Amway, and "Liberty Dollars."

Today's links:


  1. God damn, he's back. What a fucktard.

    Anyway, I really came here to mention that your Amway tale was a hell of a yarn. I knew Amway was an MLM and pretty cultish, but I never knew any details until I read your story.

    I kind of want to run into an Amway distributor now.

  2. I presume that "What a fucktard" was directed at the letter by David M. who just posted his spam here. I caught that in the middle of the show and deleted it.

  3. Yeah, that was. I saw it was deleted before my post was approved and thought "Crap. No context."

  4. Marketing is just a communication tool like advertising, pr, social media, and the force. It's all in how you use it.

    I can understand why marketers aren't trusted. The average person only sees consumer-targeted marketing (one of many forms of marketing) for products they might or might not need. My fellow practitioners and I have gotten a bad name from the numerous amateurs with no respect for fellow consumers or the ethics involved in communication.

    Soon, we Marketers will lose the bad rap, and here's why:

    Social Media. Not just consumer-to-consumer communication (like email or IMs), but whole platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter, and Amazon that allow consumers to network and share ratings, reviews, and even ratings of other ratings. Consumers are finally getting the tools necessary to track marketing techniques they'll accept and those that others should watch out for.

    Keeping people honest, transparent, and accountable is the name of the game now, so try not to generalize all of us into the same group of seedy individuals as the Spam King, pop-up ads, and Amway. I'm no Ponzi

  5. I understand what you mean, Doug. I've thought a lot about the bad reputation of marketers in the past -- and believe me, I've known some REALLY bad ones up close and personal.

    I think one of the key differences between your profession and mine is, being an unskilled market takes almost no effort whatsoever. Don't get me wrong: I have great respect for skilled marketers, and I realize it takes time, energy, and dedication. A good commercial is like a good short film, it is ultimately entertaining while getting a message across. But to be a bad marketer, all you have to have is opinions. Everybody has those.

    To be a bad computer programmer, and there are lots of them too, you still need to be a computer programmer. That means you have to know how to program. You have to have studied computers to some minimal extent, understood how they accept instructions, learned at least the rudiments of one programming language. There's a barrier to entry. Bad programmers will write spaghetti code that jumps all over the place; copy and paste code repeatedly instead of reusing references to the same actions; mix interface with implementation; they'll do all kinds of poor work, but they'll still be doing something fairly tricky.

    That, I think is the problem, and it's why marketing may never shake off the image of sleaze. Bad marketing, being super easy, can accept applicants from all locations on the competence and ethics scales. Only GOOD marketing takes talent.


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