Remember Don Lapre? His infomercials plastered late night TV pitching his Making Money program in the 90’s. Yes, I bought Don’s crap back then. I don’t remember much of what the package included, but I do recall it being heavy on the simple concept of buying and selling.
I remember skimming through his material and not being extremely impressed with the content. I was always optimistic about a new idea or program, so it was still hard to break my spirit even after purchasing an item of questionable merit. I wondered if it really could be that easy. Could selling a product through classifieds really be that profitable?
I believe back then it could have been if you had the right product, pitch (ad), and plan. There were plenty of opportunities I found in the back classified pages of newspapers and magazines pre-internet. This is where people looked for opportunity. Jobs, items for sale, and businesses were all posted in classified ads.
The problem with his formula was there really wasn’t one. It loosely reminded me of the Cash for Stuffing Envelopes game where the ad you responded to is the business he is selling you. The big difference being that Don upped the stakes with TV advertising spots, though I don’t recall if he recommended that same technique or not.
Part of his package was the contact information for thousands of newspapers so you could place ads in different markets and grow your business throughout the country. The allure being that if you could make a few hundred dollars from a single ad each and every month, imagine what you could earn with hundreds of simultaneous ads running all over the country.
I always loved the idea of informational mail order products. The thought of being able to duplicate something over and over for new profit occupied many daydreams for me in my younger years. I would set up an assembly line in my head of what it would be like to create the product, check the mail for orders, preparing and shipping orders, and of course, being rich from it.
My biggest problem was coming up with a product idea. Mine all sucked, but I did eventually find one that wasn’t too bad. It was a single page manual lottery wheel. Cheap to duplicate, cheap to mail.
I crafted my ad to be both enticing and as short as possible (classified ads were charged by the word), and placed an ad in the National Enquirer. It was much more expensive to place an ad in a national publication over a local newspaper, but I had dollar signs in my eyes, so I wanted the most eyeballs as possible to see my ad.
I think I charged $5 for the wheel, but it cost over $100 to run the ad, and in the end I made about 4 sales. I thought about sitting down and dissecting the issue. Was it the product? The ad? Should I not change anything until I’ve tried it for a few months? But in true form, I forgot about this and moved on to the next thing.
It is most definitely my modus operandi to move on after a short time, but I think this one was easier to forget because I was never crazy about my product. I always wanted something new to pitch, but could never come up with a completely unique idea on my own.
As far as Don Lapre is concerned, I searched for him out of curiosity and was shocked to find he was dead. He had been indicted by a federal grand jury in June of 2011 on accusations of running a nationwide scheme to sell worthless Internet businesses. 1
Shortly thereafter he was picked up by law enforcement for failure to appear at his arraignment. A few months later, and two days before his trial was to begin, he committed suicide by cutting his own throat with a razor blade in his jail cell. I was not expecting that.