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What You Can Learn From Nigerian Scam Artists

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I got an email a while back from a “friend” who wrote:

“Hope you are doing well? It takes me great pain to write this email to you and I feel so devastated. My family and I had a trip visiting Manila,(Philippines) unannounced some days back for a short vacation, unfortunately we were robbed at the park of the hotel where we stayed.”

I didn't buy it.

Some of my friends are dumber than Homer Simpson, and THOSE friends might have written an email like this.

But the friend who allegedly wrote the email is no dummy.

He would never write an email like that -- even if he were stranded and frantic.

That got me thinking:

If these scam artists are so darn smart (they’re making millions of dollars conning people into wiring money to “friends in need”), why can’t they write fake emails that don't sound fake?

Dr. Phil cleared it up for me.

He hung out with a few of these Nigerian scammers (why not?), and after that adventure he explained on the morning news...

The Nigerian scam artists purposely write the emails with lousy English.

If you're stupid enough to respond to a crappy email, the scammers know you're a good mark.

If the email is too well-written, it might attract someone who is too smart.

Smarty-pants might initially respond but then sniff out the con later...

...before the scammers collect any money...

but after the scammers have wasted time on conversations with a skeptical target.

The smarty-pants-proof email disqualifies those who will never do the deal, before their time-wasting nibbles.

That’s brilliant.

In marketing, we call that qualifying the prospect.

And it’s one of the most important things you can do for your business.

Identify those most likely to buy what you’re selling. Disqualify those who are unlikely to buy.

Why waste time in meetings, phone calls and other interactions with those who indicate...

...they don’t desire what you’re selling?

...or they don’t have the resources to pay for it?

...or they don’t have the authority to OK the purchase?

Focus your precious time on real prospects.

The cool thing: Qualifying prospects is not some dirty, secret trick employed only by criminal masterminds.

Nah… Even us law-abiding, ethical, marketing mortals can qualify prospects.

And it’s a whole lot easier than you may imagine...

...thanks in part to great tools like open- and link-tracking in email marketing software.

When someone opens your email or clicks a link, that person reveals something to you (as long as you have software that can track those opens and clicks).

You'll sell more (or you nonprofits will raise more) if you focus your follow-up energy on prospects who have demonstrated some interest in buying/donating.

That's true whether you're a Nigerian scam artist or you're an ethical business person trying to address a real need.

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