The Law of Large Numbers – And Why You May Not Hear From Me Again

Law of Large Numbers

Hey, it’s been fun everyone, but you may not be hearing from me again.

I’ll miss all of this, but fortune has smiled upon me and it appears that I will soon be the recipient of about $14.6 million dollars! I know! I was blown away, too.

You see, I was approached recently by two different individuals – both desperately needing help with transferring some funds from overseas.

But instead of me telling you about it, let me show you.


Feast your eyes…

law of large numbers

So right there, I’m making a cool $10,900,000 plus expenses, right?

But wait! There’s more.

As luck would have it the very next day I received another unbelievable opportunity…

law of large numbers

Can you believe it? Another $3,700,000 just for helping this poor little girl. Granted, compared to the first offer, $3.7 million is chump change, but what the heck.

Rip The Needle Off The Record

Obviously, I’m not going anywhere. Someone who can’t write English, or format an email, or even contrive a convincing story has gotten their hands on my email address. Lucky, lucky me. You’ve probably received these, too.

So while I won’t be thumbing my nose at the commoners from my yacht any time soon, there is something truly valuable in these emails. A marketing lesson.

Pick It Apart

Both of these emails are rife with grammatical, spelling, punctuation, and formatting errors. And the premise of the emails is just plain old-fashioned dumb.

In the first email, the alleged bank guy sent this to me here in the United States – where we’re currently experiencing our worst economy in 70 or 80 years. Yet he mentions “the stable economy of your country.” That’s not something I’d expect a banker from Hong Kong to say at this point in time.

In the second email, Elizabeth introduces herself as “a little girl of 22 years old.” What? ‘Scuze me? But at least she’s going to study hard and become “a surgeons doctor.” Hey… that could be a thing, right?

Anyway, would it be fair to say that there is not the slightest hint of legitimacy or credibility in these emails?

Nope. These emails are laughable and pitiful at the same time. None of us here are buying it.

Why, then, do the senders of these emails continue to send them to people?

A Law Scientists, Gamblers, and Salespeople All Understand

The Law of Large Numbers is a theorem related to probability theory. It has to do with the results obtained by performing the same experiment many, many times.

The Law of Large Numbers has a cousin in the sales and marketing world that I like to call The Numbers Game.

The Numbers Game simply means that if you blast your message out to the world over and over again enough times, odds are you can eventually make some sales. Not necessarily good sales or repeat sales… but some sales.

Sending email is free and sending millions of them is both fast and easy these days.

The people sending these emails are trying to get you to respond to these solicitations to get your credit card or bank account number. When they get it, they talk you into a large “wealth transfer fee” or steal your identity or both. It’s a big score for them.

Knowing that, I’ll ask the question again:

Why do these people continue to send these horrible, implausible, hokey emails?

Sad But True

They do it because they understand The Numbers game. They know damn well that if they blanket the world with enough of these emails, some schmuck somewhere will be gullible enough to bite. And to the perpetrator of the scam, one response in a million is worth it.

It doesn’t matter how bad the message is. It doesn’t matter how downright stupid the premise is. It requires absolutely no skill or intelligence to pull off. The only requirements are a lack of integrity and the ability to barf your message out to the world a few million times.

So what do these terrible scam emails have to do with you and me?

More than you might think.

The Constant Droning

Take a good look at how your industry markets and sells. Give television advertising an honest once over. And if those don’t jump out and smack you upside the head – spend a few minutes on the blogosphere.

Spray and Pray is alive and well. Everyone is jockeying for position and yelling as loudly as they can to be noticed. It’s a contest of who can blast out the most stuff and be the loudest with the hopes that if they do it enough someone somewhere will notice and buy in. Just like those emails – except less criminal.

If enough people scream their message out to the world – what does that create? White noise. A loud, generic buzz from which almost no one stands out.

That white noise is an opportunity for someone like you (who has something truly useful and unique to share) to stand out and be noticed.

 Strength does not have to be belligerent and loud. — Russell Brand

 Add A Pinch Of Focus

Now, if those crappy emails with no real value can blast out to the world a million times and make a sale…

If your industry or market, all abuzz with sound-alike white noise creators, can eventually produce some successes…

Just imagine what you can do with laser-sharp focus and a unique, useful message.

Five Tips for Feeling Your Focus

So what can you do to be heard above the white noise? You need to develop a very clear picture of who you are and what your goals are. Easier said than done, right?

I have a starting point for you: Five tips for feeling your focus.

1: If everyone’s doing it, it’s not uniquely you.
Just like the teenagers who seem to live by the motto, “I want to be different… just like everyone else” – the vast majority of your competitors are following trends, not setting them. (Click to Tweet this!)

Start thinking about what’s missing in your market. What can you offer that isn’t being offered? Or what can you offer in a way that no one else can?

2: Don’t fight from within the mob – fight on the fringe.
You don’t take on a big, strong competitor head to head. Avoid trying to sell the same types of things to the same types of people in the same ways as all of your larger competitors. Think fringe. Think “edge of the market.” Who within your market is under-served – and what can you do to help them?

3: Don’t let ‘them’ edit the ‘you’ out of you.
Beware the so-called experts… even the well-meaning ones. Blasting your message is loud and annoying, but the other side of the coin is just as bad: Allowing yourself to be corrected and edited into a dull blandness.

For instance – I have a degree in English. That may shock you because I regularly violate a whole slew of grammar and punctuation rules. I do that because I want my readers to read me as they would hear me from across the table if we were hanging out together in person.

It’s sincerely me and I know my readers appreciate it. If you wanted to read a perfectly grammatical boring old encyclopedia, you’d go find a boring old encyclopedia. That’s not me.

The same goes for your business. What’s your thing, your personality, your flavor? Being able to answer those questions is an important element of your success.

4: Consciously choose and rotate your influencers if necessary.
It’s great to have advisors, mentors, and influencers. In fact it’s essential. But those people are human, too. They’re wrong from time to time.

Be careful of blindly taking feedback or advice when it doesn’t feel right and true. And it if consistently doesn’t feel right and true, you may need to find a new influencer. Which leads right into…

5: Stay loyal to your vision.
Once you define and understand your vision, be loyal to it. Don’t let anyone or anything throw you off track. Take advice and adjust your strategy if needed – but stay loyal. It’s fine (and even necessary at times) to change course – just make sure it serves your end game.

Two Ways I Can Help Right Now

If you’re struggling with your focus, your target market, or your “voice”, you should download my free checklist, 10 Ways to Make Your Content Worth Following. It will give you 10 simple guidelines to follow when creating content that will help you stand out from the crowd while keeping your integrity.

I’d also be happy to hop on Skype and help you through any challenges you’re currently going through with your positioning or content. I call these 1-on- session Clarity Coaching sessions, and you can get more details here.

Ok… Now You.
Share your frustration with the white noise in your market – or tell me how you’ve overcome it in the comments.


About Gary Korisko

Gary is a battle-tested sales and marketing pro, copywriter, coach, and business strategist who teaches how to create worthwhile work on Reboot Authentic. Connect with Gary on Google+ and Twitter.

29 Replies

  1. The pop-up ads on informational sites are quickly infuriating. I came to get good stuff, got sideswiped with an ad, adding to my cost for viewing the material. And for what? Maybe 10 cents? That 10 cents should go to me for wasting my time, not the publication. (Still wouldn’t do it). So now I avoid certain sites, like Inc. So they got my page views but lost my readership. Sounds like a raw deal for them.

    This ad hoopla is an effect of the willingness to pay to see oneself on the big screen, to be extra self-promotional, whether it pays off or not (and when others are willing to pay a premium for ads, that drives up the price for the rest of us). So I try not to promote myself at all. Instead, I share ideas with others, see if they get excited enough to talk about it. If they will, I make it easy for them and invite them to hang around for more.

    1. Aaron:

      Your comments are always insightful. Thanks for that!

      And great point about letting others promote you. There’s a favorite quote of mine that based on your comment I think you’ll like…

      “It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.” – Judith Martin

      That being said, you have to put yourself “out there” to be noticed in the first place. But you’re spot on with the idea that if you do quality work, you don’t have to act like a carnival barker to get attention. In fact, I feel like that makes you part of the “white noise” I mention in the post.

      Thanks again, Aaron. Good to see you here!

      1. The nice thing about the web (I think we’re spoiled) is that you can be “out there” to the extreme without being noisy. In contrast, each new billboard in physical space adds to the clutter. Meanwhile each new website never disturbs any others in digital space. So you can fairly effectively display your message to only the people who wish to hear it. Neat, right?

        But you are right that we still must work hard to promote our stuff. It would be helpful though to have the language to discern between noisy self-promotion and effectively getting yourself “out there,” into highly relevant conversations. I look forward to more of your ideas on this, Gary.

        1. That’s the rub, Aaron. As with a lot of things in life, there’s a line to walk. In this case, between noisy and effective. And it’s not always easy to see.

          There are really two sides of being noisy or not: Frequency of messaging and quality/content of that message. As the recipient of content, I personally don’t mind frequent messages if the content is useful and not overly pushy/salesy. And I think others feel the same way for the most part. Unfortunately, there is a lot of pushy/salesy stuff constantly bombarding people.

          It’s easy to see the difference between the schmutzy loud stuff and good but frequent content if you take a good look. But as a content creator (or a business of any kind) you have to do something unique to get a first look from people who are used to the schmutzy same old, same old.

  2. Sophie Lizard

    This is so brilliant it almost made me cry. Thanks, Gary! I’d love to talk to you more about this – would you be available for a short interview for Be a Freelance Blogger readers some time?

    1. Absolutely, Sophie. Any time! You know how to find me 🙂

  3. I got the same message from Mr. Lee. How fortunate we both are! See you on the French Riviera!

    1. The more the merrier, Mike! This is shaping up to be quite the par-tay 🙂

  4. You know, my 84 year old mother continually calls me to see if she should answer these emails. I think they might be even more effective than you think.

    I do agree with you, find your voice, make sure it is a different voice and stick with it. For one thing it is a lot more satisfying then trying to impersonate the latest guru.

    1. You make a good point Michael. I left the elderly out of the post – and unfortunately they are the target of a lot of these online and offline scams all too often. Either way the tactic of spray and pray is what’s happening here.

      Finding your voice is a blogging phrase – and you’re absolutely right that it’s an important thing to nail down. But even beyond that, I’m talking about business market and niche definition regardless of industry or venue. If you’re a hardware store: Why are you any different than my current one? If you’re a BBQ restaurant: What makes you unique compared to the other dozen in my town?

      The white noise is everywhere – so must be risen above both online and offline, in every type of business.

      Thanks for joining in!

  5. Carol Ann Gregg

    Deleting these e-mails was one of the first things I learn when I got my first e-mail account back when AOL was nearly the only option. I was writer for the local twice-a-week paper and was laid off in 2011. I have done various amounts of freelance writing since 1980 but have never taken the plunge to have a website or to write a blog. I have my own voice but how do I know that anybody wants to listen?

    I have joined Carol Tice’s Writer’s Den but have only begun to take advantage of her expertise. I resently found Sophie Lizard and have learn a lot in just a short time.

    I enjoy your upbeat messages and right on recommendations. Looking forward to your next challenge for those of us wanting to join you in the blogospere.

    1. Carol Ann – you’ll never know for sure until you take the plunge. It sounds like you’re already learning from the right people: Carol and Sophie are both very knowledgeable. And on top of that they’re good people.

      Thanks for the nice compliments about Reboot Authentic – i hope to see you here more!

  6. Laura Leigh Clarke

    to thine own self be true… awesome post Gary, and you had me going at the begining – I really had thought you had won the lottery or something! Glad you’re going to be around and sharing your own uniqueness with us for some time to come! 🙂

    1. Thanks Laura. This may sound insane, but if I did hit it big like that, odds are I’d probably just be here on Reboot Authentic even more 🙂

      I enjoy this way too much to let money interfere.

      1. Laura Leigh Clarke

        ah, the true test of when someone really loves what they do… 😉

  7. Lynda Goldman

    Great post, Gary! May I ask which plugin you use at the end of your post to join your list, that allows you to use a picture of your book? (Like that post? Get my Free eBook!) -Thanks!

    1. Thank you, Lynda. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      As for the plugin… I’m glad you asked. It’s my absolute favorite plugin. It’s called OptinSkin and you can find it at

      That’s an affiliate link, by the way, but you can buy it directly too if you prefer.

      Either way, it comes with my highest recommendation. I love it!

  8. Lynda Goldman

    Fantastic, many thanks! I will look at this carefully, and use your link when I buy it.

  9. Lynda Goldman

    Hi Gary, I bought it with your affiliate link – thanks. My question is that it has many wonderful options for inserting into your blog posts, but not as many for a side bar sign up, especially one where you capture both name and email. It’s also difficult to upload an image of an e-book. Do you have any suggestions, or have you ever customized it for yourself? Thanks again!

    1. Lynda:

      Contact me via my “contact” page or by email ( Gary [at] rebootauthentic dot com) and I’ll be happy to walk you through. We can hop on Skype or whatever it takes. It’s actually fairly simple. Talk soon.

  10. Yep, truer words were never spoken, Gary. There is so much CRAP out there just asking for people’s dollars rather than actually delivering true, authentic, USEFUL content. I want my blog and business to be about helping people, not just raking in the dough. Okay, I’d like to rake in a little dough. But sacrificing my integrity and using a spray and pray approach just doesn’t work for me.

    1. You are for sure on my list of the “real” ones, Bobbi. You know I absolutely depend upon that from you 🙂


  11. Hi Gary, a great post with lots of great information. It’s so easy to remain in the white noise, because there is so much of it. But as you say finding your own unique style is the way to go and remaining in the integrity of why you are doing this.

    1. Hi Karen! The allure really is that whatever “everyone is doing” is very easy to accept as the right thing to do for many people. It’s as true offline as it is here online. I’m glad you enjoyed this – and Welcome! I noticed you subscribed after reading this post. I’m very happy you’ve joined us.

  12. Your Writer Platform

    Wow, Gary! I’m not sure about the scammers in your “woohoo I’m rich” emails, but clearly I would fall for anything YOU wanted to pull off! I thought you had cashed in for sure! 🙂

    Fantastic (and fun) way to emphasize the need for authenticity, uniqueness and a targeted approach to doing business–or building a presence–in today’s world.

  13. Hi Gary,

    Great idea to pull apart those awful emails. I cringe whenever I get an email where the English is so horrendous – often people trying to sell me advertising opportunities who claim to be a magazine ‘editor’. I think not.

    My question is this, how do you go about persuading someone who thinks that the ‘numbers game’ is a perfectly legit, sensible way to conduct marketing that they should reconsider? Is there any hope at all?

    Catherine recently posted…Warning, Thunder.My Profile

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