KEEP TIGHT CONTROL OVER YOUR OWN BRANDS AND PRODUCTS
Your Good Name is even more important than your customer list!
How to Avoid Crooks & Idiots
My biggest mistake as “Grandpa” was letting an unscrupulous, unethical guy sell my products on a website using my brand name on a website he created. This was a few years ago. He said he was a great marketer and he would sell my products and services on a contingent fee. Let’s call him “Don.” He started a website using the title of my best book Bye Bye Big Brother. He sent out by email, promotional advertisements and without permission, signed my name “Grandpa.” He used scary “gloom & doom” predictions hard sell ads. I didn’t know about this. Unfortunately, my agreement didn’t reserve for me an absolute, discretionary veto power over all his promo materials or anything else using the “Grandpa” name. I would certainly never have authorized the scare tactics. Why? Because I know “the world as we know it” is not going to disappear. While my 6 Flags are a great idea for everyone who is internationally minded & can afford hem, they are a luxury, certainly not an absolute necessity for the typical citizen of a Big Brother country.
As it turned out this crook kept new “personal consultation ” customers for himself. This was in violation of our agreement but I didn’t find out about it till much later. How? From a customer complaint that came to the “real” Grandpa me! As a con-man in his twenties, “Don” was in no position to dispense quality consultations. He was vastly separate from me in experience and education. He had no experience as a P.T., and not much education. In contrast, I had attended & graduated from the worlds best business and law schools. As a lawyer, accountant and financial planner who disliked & distrusted lawyers, financial planners & accountants, I had over 50 year experience . I’d lived and prospered in various business in 40 countries.
Yet there “Don” was, soliciting my customers, inviting them to HIS seminars as “Grandpa’s Helper.” I was relatively helpless to do anything about it except complain.
I didn’t have any say about all the garbage and bad advice he dispensed. I didn’t even know what he was doing except that he sent me some money from time to time (very little I might ad!). It was only later, from customer complaints that I found out he was selling not only Ponzi scheme “investments,” but incredibly lousy advice , and expensive “Special Reports” on things that never would, never could work for the typical reader . One of these was ” How to Start Your Own Private Bank.” My Comment? Having your own private bank or “Family Office” to manage your assets is a great idea– but only if your net worth is in the 100 million range. Nothing to even consider if you don’t have 20 million in assets.
How could I stop him from using my good name to peddle junk? Unlike a pure plagiarizer whom I might be able to shut down, this chap had a letter from me that was essentially a licensing agreement. For many years he was a major thorn in my side. He still is a minor thorn. Although he has moved on to other victims (mostly!) after alienating my customer list of the time,”Don” is still peddling older versions of my books . As he has no bricks and mortar presence, and operates from an ex-communist satellite state I call Balkan Slobovia, I could not go after him with lawyers. And to do so would have been fruitless because he could just start up similar name operations from somewhere else. An old saying is that “If you choose to wrestle with a pig, you both get dirty but the pig enjoys it.” I had to start a new website <TheRealGrandpa now FreedomprivacyWealth.com> to let my old customers know that this chap who was signing his ads as “Grandpa” that he was not me. But most of them were soured on “the old Grandpa” and would delete any email from me (or him). He even used my real first name “Bill” which was known only to my best customers with whim I had personal contact.
To this day I have not fully recovered from this experience. Thus my advice Be very careful who you do business with.
That goes for consulting clients too. I have had a few bad guys who bought my books, or even had a short consultation with me, an then went on to do something illegal. The blamed me for it telling the cops it was all my idea when they got caught. Quite annoying when I had told them very specifically NOT to do what got them in trouble. This kind of experience teaches every consultant that there is a risk of your advice being misinterpreted, and litigation or trouble with the “authorities” may be the result. What can you do? Charge enough to cover the risks, put your advice in writing, and stay away from clients or joint venture partners who attract heat.
When you get inadvertently involved with a con-man sometimes it is better to pay something to get out of any contract that is damaging to your brand, & your reputation. I offered to do this, but the crook wanted far more money than I was willing to pay.
Here’s a number one lesson for online marketing: Investigate your potential counter-party.
“Never, ever give up complete, 100% control of your brand,” Not your name, not your book or seminar titles, not your logo, not your likeness. Not even any original philosophy like in my own case “PT” or “Six Flags.”None of it, because it s all you have. You need to protect it. With the fair use doctrine on the internet, usurpers can to a certain extent, legally plagiarize But my theory is to say “This material is copyrighted but may be used if you acknowledge “Grandpa” as the source, and with any quoted or copied materiel give our contact address as <From.firstname.lastname@example.org>. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t. But if your free samples, books and reports are (as mine are) mainly calling cards for your more expensive consulting services, it helps rather than hurts if they are copied and sold (or given away) by others. Just as long as referral information is included in any?? pirated stuff. You don’t want strangers stealing or alienating your present or potential clients by pretending that your ideas are their own. It will happen no matter what you do! Making yourself available for personal contact is the best way to establish ethical relationships that will last and be profitable/ beneficial for both you , your readers and clients.
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