Diary of an Ad Man

February 23, 2008

The Nigerian Scam Letters- What Can You Learn From These Scammers About Marketing

Filed under: Uncategorized — linwoodaustin @ 2:53 am

The Nigerian Scam
Direct Mail Letters
Should these letters be included in
Denny Hatch’s Million Dollar Mailings?
What can you learn from these scam artists from one of the most corrupt nations on Earth?

Dear Friend,

Click here to find a few letters- variations on the Nigerian scam theme. I consider them to be excellent examples of good copy writing and marketing. And, although I don’t condone the scam aspect of the letters, I do want to call your attention to the techniques the authors used to soak millions, perhaps billions of dollars from naïve U.S. business men. Several years ago the Wall Street Journal ran a feature length article about this scam and some of the folks taken in by it.

The angle is this: It is a pure 2-step, lead generation letter. It asks that you call or fax or email your intentions to “buy” what they are selling.
Once you contact them and express your willingness to help launder the ill-gotten money, then they invent reason after reason why you should SEND THEM MONEY, “You must register with such and such, the registration fee is $500.” “You must help us bribe one last bank official. He only wants $1000.” And so forth.

One CPA, according to the WSJ article, admitted sending a total of $50,000 to Nigeria before he realized he would never see any money from them. So why do they work? Here are my thoughts about the tactics and strategies of these unique mailings:
1. A Nigerian postmark begs to be opened. (Before it was all email.)
2. A hand addressed envelope has to be opened
3. A letter from a “doctor” or another “official” may help believability.
4. They openly admit they are thieves therefore their message, perhaps, can be believed.
5. They ask you to be confidential about this scam they are inviting you into. This is a very important aspect of selling. They ask the reader into their confidence therefore, they infer this is a limited opportunity. In fact one letter flat out says to say whether or not you’re interested, if not they will feel free to sucker someone else.
6. They tell the story of how they got this money.
7. The telling of the story is vital to nearly every selling effort.
8. They use the “take away” close often, “20 to 40 million is available if we, (you) meet these qualifications…”
9. They suggest they want a long-term relationship with you. More building of confidence
10. They admit they are mere “civil servants” and that is why they need your help in this matter, and so forth

Keep these letters on file to remind yourself that the scam artist and the salesman use many of the same tactics. The difference is one has a promise the other has a product.

These letters are brilliant when viewed analytically. Many, many aspects of good marketing are covered…sentence by sentence.

Don’t be caught by the Nigerian scam. But do acknowledge that your business marketing must do the exact same thing that these letters attempt to do. I.E…
1. Promise big benefits (the exact amount)
2. Build credibility
3. Limit the offer
4. Bring the reader into your confidence
5. Build urgency
6. Express passion
7. Make it easy to respond
8. Show your weakness, admit you need help.

If you need help with your marketing and you have a decent, honest product or service, perhaps I can help you with your marketing.

Pick-up the phone and call me. I’ll ask you about your goals your market, your growth and your limitations. Often the right questions will lead to a breakthrough concept that will pay off royally.

This number rings at my desk: 801-201-9026

Sincerely Yours

Linwood Austin

P.S. Part of the “success” of the Nigerian scam letter was the target marketing. (Note the “president” in each of the envelope address blocks). Little words, little things, can have a “helava” impact. It could be that I can double your response without changing one word of your marketing packet. How? By targeting better. Call me. Targeted lists are “killer”.

P.P.S. One more thought on the power of these scam letters. All to often, the reader “feels” he is smarter than these morons who are nothing more than thieves. And when you think you’re smarter… and you’re too smart to be hoodwinked… you’re in for a surprise. The lesson for your own marketing… reveal your weaknesses. So that… you’re buyer will not feel you’re clever enough to “sell” him. Oh No. You’re trying to get the reader to help you sell him. Think about it.


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