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Website Attorney: He understood Internet marketing but missed the point

By Internet Lawyer

Website attorney earnings disclaimerI just reviewed a website tied in to a former rising Internet star I’ve known as a Website attorney. The marketing processes were flawless with lead capture, prequalification, a survey, and videos designed to spur sales.

The content was filled with claims about how much you would earn if you bought what the guy was selling. However, when you clicked a link in the website’s footer, a small pop-up box told you to ignore every single one of his earnings claims.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission no longer lets you promise big results on the one hand and then disclaim them in the fine print. Your website attorney can explain the specifics of this to you. Even if it is effective marketing, it is a dishonest way of doing business.

However, real disclaimers can reduce your legal risks from some government agencies. This is particularly true if you’re not making wild claims about your products or services.

Be honest with your website visitors and use disclaimers as an educational tool rather than a trick.

To your online success!

-Mike the Website attorney

P.S. Click here to find out more about website disclaimers.

Internet Marketer Murders Wife

By Internet Lawyer

Internet marketer Ellery Bennett tried to get rich online. When the house of cards collapsed, he murdered his wife (Lisa Bennett). There’s a 10-year-old daughter who no longer has a mother and whose father will be heading to prison for a very long time. That’s a hell of a price to pay.

What went wrong?

Did Bennett not give it his total commitment? He quit the lucrative business of pharmaceutical sales to pursue his dream as a stay-at-home entrepreneur. He racked up nearly $600,000 in debt pursuing his dream, and his wife filed for divorce this month after (because of?) all the sacrifices made. How much more could you ask from him?

Did he not believe in The Secret? Bennett marketed himself as an expert in personal growth and the Law of Attraction.

You can Escape The Rat Race if you BELIEVE  in yourself, you are serious about taking your life to another level, you are motivated, you have leadership skills and you have what it takes to be a Successful Entrepreneur. – Ellery Bennett

Maybe Bennett didn’t do enough social media like the Internet gurus recommend?

Actually, Ellery Bennett was active in social media. In addition to his blog, he had:

Like others in Internet marketing, Ellery Bennett made the major mistake of believing he could fake it until he made it. As the hole got deeper, he had to choose whether to keep digging or stop.

There is more to life than online business success. As you look at Ellery Bennett’s videos and websites, you get a picture of someone who wanted nothing more than the freedom to stay at home and spend time with his wife and daughter. But in chasing the dream, it cost him everything.

Bennett should have stayed working in pharmaceutical sales or some other job with a steady income until he had built up an online business that could support himself and his family. It wasn’t a lack of belief that caused this horrible chain of events to occur. It was the wrong belief…that if you wanted something bad enough, there was a law of attraction that would guarantee you would receive the results you desired.

To your online success! (or better yet, to a happy life in the present)

-Mike

P.S. If the Internet gurus who sold Ellery Bennett on how to get rich online had an ounce of decency, they’d take the money he invested in their flopportunities and give the money to Bennett’s 10-year-old daughter. She’s going to need alot of psychological and financial support in the coming years.

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Web Lawyer: The mad as a hatter email mistake

By Website Lawyer

Web lawyer crazyI received an email message from an Internet marketing guru with the following subject line: “… Why I’m mad at you Mike (Open NOW!).” As a Web lawyer and online entrepreneur, I just knew this was a deceptive email even without opening it.

Why was Mr. Guru “mad?”

I had ‘missed’ his webinar. In fact, I had never registered for it. Because of this ‘failure’ on my part, I was apparently never going to be successful…unless I listened to the replay of the webinar.

Would you listen to a webinar replay from someone pitching it this way? What else would he misrepresent?

Your Web lawyer will tell you it’s perfectly fine to build curiosity in your business marketing with your email subject lines. However, lying for shock value crosses the line. It is unethical and in some instances flat out illegal.

A second point — Mr. Guru’s business has pretty much collapsed and he’s trying to live off of past successes. So not only did he lie about being mad at me, he was also lying in the email about his current status.

How do you regain someone’s trust after pulling such a stunt?

If Mr. Guru had asked me for advice, I’d have told him to be truthful in the subject line, focus on what worked for him in the past, and teach people how to avoid the mistakes that got him into trouble in the first place.

To your online success!

-Mike the Web lawyer

P.S. Click here now to learn more about the types of claims that can get your business in legal hot water.

Website Attorney: The deadly mistake of collecting scalps

By Internet Lawyer

Website attorney networkingThere’s a networking “guru” who hangs out with the Internet marketing crowd and name drops all of the celebrities and other gurus he knows.

If you see him in action, he’s mastered the superficial smoothness of “connecting” with people he meets. As a Website attorney, I run into him at events and feel like washing my hands immediately after each encounter.

Why?

When you look closely at this networking guru, you discover the only thing he is sincere about is collecting scalps. To him, it is a numbers game, you are just a number, and “connecting” means he’s added you to his contacts list.

Incapable of building real relationships with men or women because he is a sociopath, the guru pretends by creating a massive list of people in his “network” who he doesn’t really know.

That’s sleazy.

Building relationships in your business and personal life is more than a numbers
game. Better to have 10 trusted friends than a contact list filled with strangers.

To your online success!

-Mike the Website attorney

P.S. The problem this networking guru and other sociopaths have is that they have read Cialdini’s book on influence and manipulate you with what they’ve learned.

Kevin Trudeau: Back to Jail?

By Internet Lawyer

For the Internet marketers running for the hills because of the crackdown by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on deceptive marketing practices, the saga of Kevin Trudeau is scarier than that of Perry Belcher. Trudeau made the stupid mistake of telling his cult followers to e-mail the judge handling his case.

The response? Trudeau faces sentencing for criminal contempt, has had to post $50K bail, and surrender his passport. Regardless of how sentencing goes, Kevin Trudeau risks financial ruin. The only question is whether he will be able to hide enough assets from the government.

The cynic in me believes that like a cockroach in an nuclear blast, Trudeau will find a way to survive. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see him find religion and bilk the same gullible people out of money using his new-found belief in the “Secret” or the Great Green Arkleseizure.

Yet you have to wonder how well Trudeau would have done over the long term if he had actually bent the rules but not broken them. What if he had delivered value to clients without lies or misrepresentations? Was the time he already spent in prison worth it? How about the reputation as a fraud and convicted felon?

Some would say that Trudeau’s brushes with the law aren’t relevant to Internet marketing.

Oh really? Note that the FTC guidelines don’t distinguish between online marketing and infomercials.

Hat tip: Mitch Lipka

February 19, 2010 Update – The judge sentenced Trudeau to 30 days in jail for contempt. Trudeau also forfeits his $50,000 bond but will be appealing the judge’s decision. Go figure. It remains to be seen how much Trudeau will be ordered to pay in the underlying lawsuit.

Hat tip: Reuters

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