Do you remember those infomercials on late night television that are trying to sell viewers a way to make money? Most of them involved buying and selling real estate, but I am pretty sure I saw other types. They always featured testimonials by people who used the system to make many thousands of dollars.

To me, those always seemed a little bit sketchy. First, they seemed too polished. I understand that polish is necessary to seem (and to actually be) professional, but there is a very subtle difference between professional and con-artisty. And, if the difference is not pronounced enough, it sets off a lot of my mental alarms. Some questions immediately are raised: If you are so successful from investing in real estate, how is it worth your time to get on the television and try to sell me a course that took you all this time to put together? For that matter, isn’t the amount of valuable real estate limited? And, why aren’t you able to scale up your operations to take advantage of all this opportunity?

I want to be clear. I have no real reason to suspect these courses. The people selling them were probably genuine. Thing is, they also set off alarm bells, which the programs would never really assuage.

Nowadays, there are lots of people online who are selling courses to bootstrap web services. I have interacted with some of them, and they seem like really great people. The thing is, these types of services set off those same mental alarms. To me, at least.

What could you do to help me, as a potential customer, overcome these biases? One way would be to give some hard figures about student success and success stories. Ideally, these success stories would include links to real websites that were built after completing your course. I’d like to “see” what the course would do for me.

What if you don’t have/can’t provide any of this information? Well, I guess I wouldn’t be your ideal customer. But, you should try to get this information, because my guess is that I am not all that unique in feeling this way. You, personally, could always start smaller, possibly with a single client with the understanding that they will be willing to provide this information for future marketing purposes.

Ultimately, this kind of sales/marketing strategy has a really long history, and any kind of service that employs similar strategies has an uphill battle to fight. I think that services like these are probably extremely useful and valuable – if potential customers can see past the initial distrust of services that market themselves like this.