Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam , spam
spam. Spam- wonderful spam."

"continuing our series: Spam, Spam, Spam!- we look at ways to avoid getting your mailbox filled with stuff..."

by Tammy de Leeuw
Financial Advisors Netzone

One thing which never ceases to amaze me is the fact that advisors and agents will surf the web all day looking for that elusive magic elixir (you know -the ONE which will effortlessly take them to the next level in their business)- and then they complain about getting too much SPAM!

My initial response to this is: if you don't like unsolicited email- reduce the amount of time you spend online. It may sound simplistic-but it is true. People who are seldom online don't get viruses and junk emails.

However, in the age of instant gratification and one-touch marketing, the internet provides with some real advantages: it is faster and cheaper than most direct mail and can be a great source of information for your business. So, if getting off the internet isn't a viable option, then what else can you do to slow the flow?

One man's spam is another's information treasure...

Before I give you some simple solutions to stuffed inbox syndrome, I would like tackle the somewhat daunting task of defining spam.

Some people have the unrealistic and slightly elitist viewpoint that ANY AND ALL unsolicited email constitutes spam. These are the same people who insist that if it is not a bill or a letter from Aunt Hattie- all snail mail is "junk" mail. I have been lectured a time or two on how loathesome are people who send you email without your permission. QUELLE HORREUR!

Other people actually enjoy getting any and all information- they have a voracious appetite for being "in the loop" and they love discovering new ideas and techniques. For these folks catalogues, e-zines and newsletters, brochures and clippings are a source of entertainment and insider information. These are the kind of people who might be seen taking their PDA's and smart phones into the toilet with them. Many of them seem to always have some sort of virus co-opting their computers, too.

I find both extremes a bit disconcerting, so I offer this, my own definition of spam.

Spam consists of emails mailed to large numbers of people which offer little or nothing of substance, touting products and services which are either non-existent or worthless. Spam often contains incredible offers such as " Micrsoft Office- Only $29!" or "FREE hot single babes list"

Spam is easily detectable by its missing subject lines, nonsensical subject lines, or very bogus-sounding "from" names. Spam often has no "opt-out" provision and sometimes can carry viruses or be a conduit for spyware. Spam is sometimes sent out with the sole purpose of determining whether "harvested" emails are legitimate. Generally speaking, an occasional email from a legitimate company or service is not really spam, unless you have opted out and continue to receive such correspondence unabated.

Here are some actual examples of subject lines from spam I have recently received: (yes- I get tons of spam myself)

SIX SOURCES OF REVENUE FROM EACH CLIENT-From Frank Burwich(also Larry Klein)
GET ADOBE CREATIVE SUITE FOR $26! (hint: this is software normally costing hundreds of dollars- don't get suckered in)

Since a lot of spam is generated overseas , using complex automated processes, you might see highly unlikely name combinations such as "Winslow Bartholomew", "Smithers Benefield," "Chandra Doxey", "Yung Dude", etc. If the "from" name is something off-the-wall like that you can safely send it to the spam folder.

"Spoofed names" may be a bit trickier. In this instance, the spammer has gotten hold of actual names from your address book, perhaps via a hack , keystroke logger, or data miner, or is using some common names which might ring a bell with you. ("from Gillian: I thought you Would Enjoy This".)

If you have a friend named Gillian, it might be harder to ferret out the phony email, especially when you are tearing through your in box trying to get caught up. Look for little signs: is Gillian's name spelled wrong? Is she sending you information out of the blue- when you haven't heard from her in a year? Look at the subject line- why in the world would Gillian be sending you information on how to win the lottery every time?

Easy ways to reduce spam...

1. Restrict your visits to non-commercial sites. Hanging out on My Space, U-Tube, and the like is virtually assuring you will get lots of spam.

2. Want to check out a product or service or get on a news list but don't want the inevitable spam- don't use your primary email on the form. Hushmail, Yahoo, MSN and others offer you free email accounts. Use those to receive and filter offers and to get your electronic newsletters. Don't give your primary email out to anyone except friends and business associates (NOT to online companies from whom you order, either.) If a site insists you have a "non-anonymous" email- stop visiting that site. Most e-tailers now accept Yahoo and Google and other so-called anonymous email addresses for verification purposes.

3. Have your own website? That's cool but did you put your primary email address on the website? Bad idea- bots trolling the web make a beeline for sites with emails listed. Better to use a response form, or: get a separate account for you
r site. Advisor websites and blogs attract unimaginable amounts of spam.

4. Buy an anonymizer program, use a proxy server (such as or check out new hardware which lets you surf anonymously, without your IP address being tracked and monitored. Be advised: some corporate firewalls and anti-virus programs may block you from accessing proxy sites. This might, however, be a good solution if you are using FREE wifi or open connections, which are another source of spam.

5. Don't download reports, coupons, and offers unless you really want them or unless you are giving a secondary email address. Filling out forms online guarantees a sea of spam coming your way.

6. When you shop online: be sure to scroll all the way down and uncheck any boxes which say"
YES-I want to receive the e-newsletter, updated information, etc. Unless you do want to receive those offers.

If the box says "occasionally we make our list available to other quality merchants." be sure to indicate that NO- you do not want to receive other offers, unless you really do want to.

7. Resist the urge to enter contests and giveaways unless you know the merchant. Even then-don't give them your primary address. They aren't giving away a trip to Bermuda for nothing- they want your email and info.

8. When you do your own marketing campaigns, be sure you know everyone on the list. If you are buying an email list from a company (not advisable) , there may be "seeds" planted by spammers. So, when you send out your GREATEST FINANCIAL NEWSLETTER EVER- you are setting yourself up for a flood of reverse spam.

Nextime: Reporting Real Abuse and Avoiding Having YOUR Stuff Classified as Spam

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Newsbreak from Spam

I interrupt the "Spam series" to bring you a few bits of news...

MA'S Secretary Puts More Nails in Senior Designations Regulations- we certainly can expect other states to follow suit. Get the scoop- read the bureaucratese for yourself at:

Interested in Seeing Ed Slott Live in Vegas for Free?- call Tammy at (978) 633-7140 or email I have been given information on how a few select advisors can attend this event without having to pay the usual $750 registration fee. You need to act now because there are only a few "slots for Slott" left.

Max Bolka ( a pre-eminent business coach, trainer, and marketing guru will hold a marketing teleclass in October. Date to be determined, but you need to opt in to my e-newsletter now so I can give you registration details. Max's training will be sure to get you motivated and headed for that elusive next level.

Scott Brooks of reports that he is getting lots of positive feedback from his Rollover Coach program. Scott's program differs from Ed Slott's and focuses on a different aspect of the rollover arena.

Looking for a few good men and women- A start-up field marketing organization wants to put experienced, savvy, holistically-minded, honest advisors in front of lots of qualified prospects via an unusual niche marketing system. They need agents/advisors in Ohio, New York, Central California, Illinois, and Florida. If you are a person of high integrity who needs to see more people and enjoys the challenges of a start-up situation, email or call Tammy and I will hook you up with the principals. You MUST be an effective and confident speaker and be a flexible thinker as well. (978)-633-7140 or

The Contest is Still On- I'm still looking for the funniest seminar stories, presentation nightmares, technical snafus, client miscommunications, etc. Need some levity here, folks.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Brief History of the Spam-UVerse

While the idea of using the latest communications medium to bolster one's business is probably as old as civilization itself, modern spam's likely ancestor is the iconic Western Union.

In the late 19th century, Western Union allowed its telegraph lines to be used to send multi-user telegraphs advertising dubious investment opportunities to its wealthy clients. The impetus for allowing this was simply: cash or the promise of it.

It is the temptation of receiving large sums of cash which drives spam, after all, and the idea of allowing one's database to be co-opted in return for increased cash flow is just too much to resist.

In 1978, Gary Thuerk sent the first documented modern piece of "spam", setting off heated discussed across the nascent internet. At that time, the net was mostly a collection of eggheads, students, geeks in basements, and government workers who reacted with appropriate amounts of shock, dismay, and righteous indignation. (It always amazes me that they could be so naive as to think the internet would remain off limits to commercial exploitation.)

Internet veterans quickly labeled these multiple postings "spam", widely though to be a reference to a popular sketch by the British comedy group Monty Python's Flying Circus. (If you haven't seen it, rent the DVD and watch it- it is a hoot.)

In March of 1994, a couple of internet newbie immigration lawyers named Canter and Siegel used a Perl script written by a Phoenix programmer to generate advertisements for their service of doing paperwork for people wanting to participate in the US "Green Card Lottery."

Because there was no world wide web yet, Usenet Net Newsgroups (in which I participated myself ) were the recipient of Canter and Siegel's infamous multi-post.

Entitled "Green Card Lottery- The Final One?, it was sent to at least 6,000 Usenet discussion groups, which was a very large number at the time. I remember seeing that particular post on more than one newsgroup to which I belonged.

While I thought nothing of the post, and simply ignored it, net vets immediately struck back through the first large-scale use of software programs known as "cancelbots", which trawl Usenet and kill specific messages. Punishment was swift for the violation of unwritten Usenet etiquette, and Canter and Siegel wound up with a world of woe. They managed to bounce back somewhat by turning into spammers for hire and writing a book:

How to Make a Fortune on the Information Superhighway : Everyone's Guerrilla Guide to Marketing on the Internet and Other On-line Services.

Using today's standards, Canter and Siegel barely elicit a yawn . What is 6,000 compared to the hundreds of thousands which can now be sent out at once, after all?

Moreover, the green card scheme is tame when you compare it to the e-mails most of us get every day offering everything from pornography to internet gambling to samples of Viagra.

However, Canter and Siegel's gross breach of netiquette drew attention to the internet's possibilities as an advertising vehicle with enormous potential. With the emergence of AOL, which brought the internet to hundreds of thousands in a short period of time, spam was destined to become a new form of urban blight and in some cases, an extremely profitable way of getting one's message across.

Next: Spam defined- What it is and isn't

Friday, August 10, 2007

Opening A Big Old Can Of Spam, PT1

Opening a big old can of SPAM...PT1.

"If spam is an issue, it’s probably because you spend too much time surfing the internet, letting other people steal your email address and pummel you with unwanted messages. The antidote for spam is not just a spam blocker – it’s also the delete button.

Climb down off your high horse, recognize that at least 75% of spam is your own fault, and don’t use it as an excuse to be rude or unresponsive." Jeffrey Gitomer, sales trainer, nationally-recongized speaker, and author of the classic bestseller: LITTLE RED BOOK OF SALES.

by Tammy de Leeuw

Financial Advisors Netzone

Despite the fact that I have sent hundreds of emails advertising this blog site, I have been lucky to have only gotten a couple of negative emails decrying my "spamming." However, those emails were hostile enough to prompt me to address this controversial issue.

For financial services professionals, who are probably the single most spammed professional group in the world, the issue can be a bit tricky. After all, a lot of us want to be marketing savvy ourselves.

As Jeffrey Gitomer points out, those who whine about spam usually bring the situation on themselves. Financial advisors, in their quest for the SURE FIRE SOLUTION TO PUT BUTTS IN THE SEATS, seem to spend an awful lot of time attending "webinars", downloading FREE reports, filling out online forms for booklets, etc.

Perhaps the truly naive believe that such offers are made by some kindly old soul whose mission in life is to help financial professionals become super-successful and popular with seniors. (Uh, yeah... that's why they do it...)

Most of us, however, understand that advertising exists to bring attention to a product or service someone is trying to SELL. When I worked for that company-who-shall-not-be-named, the boss was a big fan of webinars and the attendant spam which was sent out by the thousands to get advisors to sign up.

The agenda for doing such webinars was far from hidden, yet there were always those who whined about the copius amount of email and junk mail they received after they attended.


Did you think my ex-boss-whose-name-shall-not-be-mentioned was doing this out of the kindness of his stone cold heart? He did it so he could get your information and continue to operate within the "window" allowed by law.

Ironically, some of the same people who complained bitterly about spam invading their work emails were the same folks who forked over big bucks to learn how to market (read "send spam and junk mail more effectively") to seniors. Crazy, isn't it?

In this series, I will examine the history of SPAM, why one man's SPAM is another man's treasure, why legitimate advertising is NOT spam, what the CANSPAM law really says, and much more.

I will give you tips and tricks and resources on how to reduce the flow of email and junkmail and also how to not miss offers you actually WANT to receive. Using the miracle of the Internet, you might be able to market your own services without getting tagged as a "spammer."

In the meantime, feel free to send me your SPAM stories. By this I mean- send me your favorite offers, most-hated spam, websites you visited once ten years ago which continue to spam you today, etc. Give me any tips and tricks you have used yourselves to alleviate spam.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Pareto Platform On Referrals

Wanted to share another true advisor story, this time from my friends at Pareto Platform. This guy really has some terrific ideas on how to get your clients to do your prospecting for you! I have long advocated this type of relationship-based approach and this serves to illustrate that it can and DOES work when you do it properly.-td

An Advisor on the High Road: How One Advisor’s Consistent Client Service Generates Recommendations

By the Pareto Systems Team

In this article, we profile one Financial Advisor who uses a consistent and well thought-out client service plan to turn his current clients into raving fans, and who received seen a steady stream of qualified recommendations as a result.

Michael started his career with a large insurance firm in 1989, but after eight years he felt stifled by company policies and in-house products. “By going independent, I could represent myself as I saw fit, which was very important to me,” Michael told me in a recent interview.

Last year, Michael met with forty-eight prospective clients, and all but three opened accounts. While this statistic is impressive in itself, even more impressive is that forty-five of these interested investors called Michael first. “Your best clients are your sales force,” Michael maintains. “They are more than willing to send anyone to you if the topic ever comes up.”?

Michael doesn’t spend a cent prospecting; in fact, he says that “getting burned by prospecting early on was actually very good for me.” He considers the exercise a waste of time, energy and money. “I hired an assistant right away, something I considered a good investment, but I didn’t have money laying around for wasting on letters to strangers.”

What Michael has done is given his clients the tools to keep his name “top of mind,” so that it will easily come up in a conversation.

He makes sure that every client receives a customized portfolio binder with his or her name embossed on the cover (“this impresses the client more than anything else and shows that I pay attention to details”) and a three-hole punch for statements and articles.

The most popular section of the binder has proven to be “The Rules of Money,” a collection of common sense suggestions that deals with compounding, the importance of carrying little debt and so on .”Not exactly rocket science,” Michael says, “but people love it.” He has also invested in quality hardcover books for a lending library.

Last year, Michael created a unique wall calendar for his clients, again using the same common sense feel. It includes tax tips during tax season, RSP deadline reminders, more “Rules of Money”, etc. All forty-five referrals that Michael signed on last year resulted from his calendar and portfolio binder.

Here is an excerpt from the conversation Michael and I had:

Pareto: Some people are going to read this and think: “This would never fly with my clients.”

Michael: I went to one client’s house to drop a calendar off, and she asked me if she could have six more.

Pareto: What other events or campaigns make up your marketing plan?

Michael: It’s really straightforward. I make sure that everyone hears from me once a month, and I can tell you that everything I send is ”cheap and cheerful..” A birthday card one month, a 2-page newsletter the next, a magazine, a magnet, a call rotation.

In November, I host a client seminar and they are invited to bring a friend. This is about as close as I get in asking for a referral. The day after the seminar, I send everyone (even those who didn’t come) a summary of the meeting. That way, people get to see what happened, and it brings their guard down a little.

Pareto: What is going to change for you in the coming year?

Michael: I’ll need another assistant to keep up with demand, and I’d like to communicate a little more with all of my clients. Probably email alerts, and a webpage down the road. But I wouldn’t be sending recommendations; I’ll probably send messages that people will read and think, “Wow, I didn’t know that.? Then they’ll forward the email message to someone else.

Michael maintains that his approach to growing his business won’t change. He says that he will continue to invest money into his business and his clients. When I asked him if he expected to see another forty-five referrals this year, he replied:

Probably more.”

Friday, August 3, 2007

Mail Issue Resolution- NEW EMAIL

My apologies to those of you who attempted to sign up for my electronic newsletter (which will start in September.) There was an email issue which I think I have resolved. If you did or do get bouncebacks, please sign up for the email at:

Sorry for any inconvenience. Also, any story ideas, leads, etc. can be sent to this address.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Lead and Seminar Systems- Vent Here and WIN!

Henry H. tells me that there is a pretty good place to post a report if you believe your lead or seminar service did you wrong. For the many who have contacted me about having had bad lead experiences, you can post a report on this site AND check to see if any company with whom you are doing business is listed in the database. This site is designed for the "bad guys" while I am wanting to highlight the good guys on this site.

In other news, Tina at Seminar Direct (888-629-1919) tells me
she will give a significant discount to anyone needing seminar printing and prep in the wake of the Postmark Direct meltdown and also for readers of the blog.

Be sure to tell her you are from FAN to get special deals.

A while back, I had a contest for the craziest, funniest, scariest, weirdest seminar story. No one wanted to fess up in print (although I did get a few tall tales over the phone.) so I wanted to try again.

I will be emptying my office closet and giving out some goodies such as Joe Gilliam's excellent CD series "How to Handle Difficult People", a couple of Starbucks cards, some gourmet coffee, and a music CD.

All you have to do to enter is sign up for the new electronic newsletter, which will feature the people, places, and products you need to grow your business, get more referrals, and land the perfect mate (well, maybe not, but then again you never know...)

Simply email Give me your name, email, website if you have one, yada , yada, yada. I will put you on the e-list (which I do not rent or sell to anyone else) and you will get the electronic newsletter and blog digest each month.

Thanks for the support and don't forget to visit links listed on this site. They are the folks who pass muster and who are motivated to help you.