According to the flyer a friend gave me, I would receive an MP3 player and lunch, just to sit in on a FREE 90-minute “2009 Internet Marketing Conference”. The leaflet included testimonials - people had already made bazillions of dollars following the advice given at these conferences.
I knew it was a sales pitch, probably software. The leaflet added, “join us at this fun, relaxed, informative 90-minute Conference that is guaranteed to give you a new way to think about making money like never before.”
I hoped to glean some internet savvy by attending. The invitation insisted on ‘business casual’ attire. The ironic thing is, people I talk to list working in their pajamas as the number one benefit of working on the internet at home.
I have attended sales seminars with “free” giveaways in the past and found them to be time consuming and irritating, the giveaways junk – I decided to go anyway.
As people showed up for the meeting, one and two at a time, staff ushered them to specific seats. I couldn’t help but notice the younger people were placed up front. They would be more enthusiastic and, had less shyster-exposure. As I write this, I think it likely there were one or more ‘plants’ in the front row. I have nothing to back that claim, other than the fact that those up front had an unrealistically enthusiastic passion for the sales pitch.
The further from the front, the greyer the hair was.
The speaker began by claiming to be a former FBI special agent and asked if there were any law enforcement people in the room. Negative responses assured him there were no police in the audience. That and the notice requesting no one record the event, made it so there was no need to stay within the confines of the law in this assembly.
The presentation started late and lasted far longer than the originally stated 90 minutes. The speaker was friendly and funny. He pitched software and a support system to build a website. You could vend whatever products you choose to, on line. There were stiff monthly fees and internet tool packages, some costing upwards of $3200.00.
The sales group passed around “business order forms”. The forms asked for your credit card information, needed so you could attend another conference in Erie Pa, to be held in several weeks. It would only cost $48. There, you would sit through a second push so these wonderful people could gain access to a larger portion of your bank account.
Our friendly speaker said we could eat lunch as soon as we filled out our order forms. The whole pitch had boiled down to this, after two hours of camaraderie, jokes and an impassioned plea for this software it would be an embarrassment not to fill out the form for this superb company. I did not feel friendly or pliable; I never do when backed into a corner.
As I stood to leave, I noticed the people in the front rows, bent over their forms, eagerly filling in the demanded information. I turned; most of those seated behind me, hair just a bit more grey than mine, had their arms stubbornly crossed in front of them, no pens in hand, no credit card info entered on their forms, they were ready for a fight. They wanted their “free” MP3 player and lunch.
It was nearing 2PM and I was hungry and extremely perturbed. I had not ‘gleaned’ a single useful fact.
Including drive time, I had invested four hours. I figured the lunch and MP3 player were at least half hour away, possibly longer, depending on how the standoff between the grey-hairs and the ‘friendly’ staff ended.
I cut my losses and walked out the door. Half an hour later after a nice lunch for which I gladly paid, I savored coffee and something I remembered.
There is no such thing as a free lunch.
I’m not sure about free MP3 players.