Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Buggy Whip Industry

Copyright © 2005 By Ray Thomas

You may remember a time when you couldn't open a mail order or other opportunity publication without finding one or more of my articles in it. Then one day, they disappeared, and with a few exceptions occasioned by publishers printing articles they've had in stock for a long time, running the ads that came with them, all of which are now outdated, they haven't returned. There's a good reason for that. It finally came to me that mail order has degenerated to the point where there are very few serious opportunities in the business. It is overwhelmingly filled with illegal pyramid schemes and chain letters masquerading as "opportunities."

When I first got into mail order there were actually real opportunities to be had. I made a lot of money selling American Unifax products, principally a typing ribbon that made an "executive typewriter" out of just any old typewriter, allowing these manual typewriters to put out sharp, black typing that looked almost like typesetting. Also a carbon paper replacement that obsoleted carbon paper where you could buy 20 sheets for about the same as 100 sheets of old-fashioned carbon paper. But the 20 sheets far outperformed the 100 sheets of common carbon paper while giving you a "carbon paper" that put out sharp, black typing, did not "tree" when wadded up, and which you couldn't tear in two with your hands alone and gave you more sharp copies than a box of 100 sheets of carbon paper. It was what I called a "breakthrough product" that obsoleted several industries -- like the automobile obsoleted the buggy-whip industry and ruined the market for horse-drawn carriages.

But with the coming of the home computer and cheap copying, it was, itself, obsoleted. You no longer had to type a sales letter and have it expensively printed at the copy shop. Now you could create a letterhead inside your computer in several colors if you want, use it as a template by simply saving the original file under a new name. That way, you could do the same with a sales letter. Type the letter and make a template out of it, then when your get inquiries to your ads, you simply send a personalized letter in answer instead of a pre-printed, non-personalized sales letter. Just type in the inquirer's name and address, save it under his/her name, and you still have your original template. You can write the letter once, and send it to many people. And if you want to change it a little later on, it's easy (It's a good idea to have a backup copy or two of your original letter in case you forget and save something over it.).

But having my product obsoleted is not why I got out. There were other "breakthrough products" I could market, one being synthetic oil. I got out because I saw the entire opportunity seeker-small mail order business going to the dogs through the proliferation of the "pyramid scheme/chain letter programs" that had no product, only the "opportunity." There was one I call the "four-report scheme," where you had to buy all four "reports," (which usually were one-page reports that taught you nothing but were there only so the originator could say he had a "product" to sell.) one from each participant, with the hope that you could reprint those reports and sell them to new suckers.

I'm still selling through the mail and in person, using my web site and writing articles for another market and allowing them to be published in the same way as I did all over the small mail order market. Instead of the ads they ran in return for my articles selling my product, they only gave a hint of what it was, while directing the reader to my web site, which not only tells the whole story, but also allows them to order product right from the web site and even sign up as a dealer for a real networking program, right from the web site, or from me. My web site is connected directly to my company with a code number to make sure I get credit for my sales and prospects Plus, I get prospects from the company as well. But it's still essentially mail order since those who come to me instead of dealing through the web site must be corresponded with.

I have a letter for each contingency, right in a file in my computer. If you write me asking about my product, you'll get back a personalletter addressed to you by name and address that was computer-generated. Any personal comments and questions would be answered, usually in the first paragraph, which can always be changed easily and that name and address entered in your customer database. The bulk of the letter would be a standard sales letter that looks like a personal letter, but I am able to speak to the writer's personal concerns as well, at the same time.

This is something that has revolutionized my operation, no matter what I'm selling. Even without the web site-supported products, I can still operate this way whenever I have to write the same letter over and over again with little or no change. I don't mind being "computered out" of my profession of billboard pictorial artist because the very computer that ran me out of my 45-year profession opened the door to a new profession: simple web site design. That's in addition to my major product. I'm doing okay without having to advertise in hundreds of small mail order publications. I survived the obsoleting of not only my profession, but of the obsoleting (mostly by me) of my system of operation.

Always look for ways to find something positive in the negatives that come your way. Don't just whine about the way things have gone, just look for other ways that will work for you.

People liked to whine about the "plight of the buggy-whip makers" when the automobile was invented, but it is those who looked for opportunities of which you can take advantage who prosper (such as automobile aftermarket products). Every door that closes causes another one to open. Be sure you're looking for that opening door when bad things happen.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Avoid Negative People

Copyright © 2005 By Ray Thomas

Stay away from negative people except to use them as a means of "taking the temperature" of the world. Earl Nightngale always said, "Any time you have a new idea, tell it to ten people. If at least nine of them tell you it's a bad idea -- do it. It's a proven fact that such people are their own worst enemies because they condition themselves to failure by looking at life in a negative fashion. Always look at the positive side of anything that happens. I had a small stroke in 2003, and have not been the same since. My energy is very low and I can't work for much more than three hours before I have to go and lie down for a while. I haven't been able to work a full day straight at anything more than once a week. Did I look at this as a "bad thing?" No. It gave me a lot of free time I could put to good use. Instead, I made plans to travel the state of Colorado (and perhaps Utah and Wyoming, too) selling real estate signs to real estate dealers and auto dealer decals to auto dealers. These will be my primary lines because the prospects are easy to find. All I have to do is drive down a busy street and I can find them easily. I will also be able to provide all kinds of signs and decals for other purposes, such as labeling on bottled gas containers or on water heaters -- or on about anything else people sell to the public.

If I want to find those not on the streets I'm on, I go to my computer and use the "Yellow Pages (in my area, it's Dex Online. It will tell me who and where these people are, in any way I want: alphabetical, by address, area, etc.) If you don't have, or have access to a computer, use the Yellow Pages Book. I'm able to walk for short distances and drive for longer periods. So I will be able to use this as a means of moderate exercise and a means of earning money. Although earning money is not the main goal. I have enough money. But I am not rich. I can use the proceeds of the one day a week I work for someone else as "seed money," to buy gas and oil, and to pay for the motel rooms I'll need while on the road. When there's enough money from sales, I can stop that one day of the week I spend working for somebody else.

I was very tempted to be "down," thinking, "what kind of a life is this?" where I have to stay home all the time and am not able to do anything meaningful. It's not having a purpose in life that kills most people who suffer from strokes. Many of them are debilitated, losing the permanent use of one side or the other. I only lost the use of my left side temporarily. It's still weak, but getting stronger all the time. Man is basically a "goal-striving animal." Actuarial figures prove that women outlive men by an average of eight years. Did you ever wonder why? It's simple: hubby retires, and from then on has no purpose (goal) in life. Soon, he dies. Momma goes on doing what she's been doing all her life and lives forever. Look in the newspaper. You'll see repeated over and over again in the obituaries, "so and so retired three months ago. Or six months ago. Or a year ago. To retire is to die! Let me rephrase that: "to retire and have no goals left is to die." The key here is "no goals." You must have goals that you're striving for, even if it's nothing but growing valuable rare orchids. It is that "striving" that keeps you alive. And you'll be surprised how often such "goal-striving" created a whole new career for you. Have you ever wondered why so many rich people die, take up drugs, do other self-destructive things? You'd thing those people had everything, wouldn't you? They lack the one thing they absolutely need to stay alive: a goal in life.

I was a sign painter for 45 years. I was already "retired" when I had the stroke. But I spent all my time not at work before that on this computer writing, publishing (on the Internet) and designing web sites. I got "computered out" of the sign business years ago. That's the reason for the "retirement." Note that my time on this computer was "when not at work." Don't think I just stopped working when I got "computered" out of the sign business (they came up with computers that they thought could replace the sign painter and the sign painting jobs dried up). Not even! Computers threw me out of a lifelong profession, so computers can help me to find a new profession: writing, publishing, and designing "simple" web sites for others. Until that starts paying off significantly, I only use it to keep my mind active. I use sales to keep my body exercised, and make money, too. The whole point here is, never let circumstances depress you. There's always something you can do to keep your mind and body active, and thus stay alive. Do NOT "retire" and do nothing. That's a "death sentence."

Sunday, January 02, 2005


This is a foundation I created specifically so I could supply money (and be able to deduct it from my income) to my search for real motivation, not the false motivation given by so-called "motivators" who try to motivate you when the only way you can be motivated is from within, using your own opinion of your talents and abilities, based on your "self-image (your opinion of your own abilities based on your previous conditioning and learning from many sources). This foundation will be a "for profit" foundation, not a tax-free, non-profit.