Some of my own challenges

Here are just a few of the challenges I’ve been through…

Career

Story 1.

There were times when my business was selling dozens to hundreds of relaxation devices a day. Most paid by credit card or cheque. A few sent in cash and postal orders (you can cash them in a post office).

One of my warehouse staff, a really nice lad, aged 17, got involved with an illegal gambling den. Some heavies who had threatened to smash his kneecaps if he didn’t pay off a gambling debt which the employee had run up there, so this lad took some of the cash sent in by registered post for products.

We soon found out what he was doing because customers rang in asking for their goods. We knew that this lad had taken their money as he had signed the form that the postman presented to him as he handed over the envelopes.

We dismissed the lad and prosecuted.

Story 2.

A few years later, another employee called Paul demoed one of our MindLab relaxation devices to a customer who paid for it in cash.

Paul pocketed the money.

The customer later rang in with questions about the device, but the other staff couldn’t Identify him on the computer as a purchaser of this unit.

Paul wrote the guy a letter promising that he would steal for him any Paraliminal recordings he wanted if he would keep quiet. (Paraliminals are a multi-million-selling range of CDs which feature 2 voices at a time to help induce change in you. We were selling tens of thousands of them at the time.)

The customer sent in this letter to my office manager, so we sacked/dismissed Paul. Paul then rang me at home and cried down the phone, begging me not to prosecute. His father also rang me at home saying the same thing.

We prosecuted anyway.

Story 3.

I have had great success writing 4- to 12-page letters promoting the different CD sets and relaxation-type devices over the years. I only sell one product at a time in each promotion.

My team and some business colleagues encouraged me often to create a catalogue of all our products. Eventually I agreed to do one.

We spent weeks putting a 24-page catalogue together, and enlisted the services of a specialist catalogue design company. I created a great offer whereby everyone who placed an order would get a really fabulous CD from a US company called Sounds True.

We printed 70,000 catalogues. We didn’t make a penny from mailing them – but we didn’t lose money either directly.

In other words, by saying to customers: choose from 60+ products, some of them we have never promoted before, we got a lower percentage take-up than when we offer one product at a time. (When you give clients a choice, they sometime choose nothing: literally spoilt for choice.)

However I still had monthly costs including salaries for 14 staff, so we lost a whack of money that month!

Money

Story 4.

Many years ago I attended a copywriting seminar in the US run by Gary Halbert who was a brilliant copywriter. (He died a few years ago.)

At the event, which was excellent, he told us about a plan to market a stock market system. He asked for investments of US$15,000 to fund the mailing campaign, and in return we would get a share of the profits and all the sales information to show what had happened.

I was flush with cash so I invested, as did quite a few others.

That was the last I saw of my money, despite me ringing him and him apologising and pleading poverty.

Another peeved investor bumped into him at another conference and confronted him and managed to get a small amount of money out of him, but he had spoken to others who got nothing.

I learned a good lesson about not investing in other people’s ideas at all, or only if there’s a rock-solid guarantee I’ll get at least my money back if things go south, which is sort-of worth the price I paid!

Here’s a link to another business ‘mistake’ I made!