“We’ll show you how to get on the Oprah show”
“Some of the graduates of our program have gone on to appear on Tony Robbins’ stage!”
“We’re always getting calls from publicists who want to know who’s hot right now so they can put them on Oprah.”

Have you heard any of these claims before? Maybe someone was trying to sell you a public speaking course, a public relations program, or your very own internet radio show, and they used what I call the “Oprah and Tony Marketing Strategy” to do it.

What is the “Oprah and Tony Marketing Strategy?” It’s a sales and marketing technique that’s based in another old strategy I like to call the “overpromise, underdeliver” strategy. They promise you the sun, moon, and stars, but deliver very little in the way of usable content or implementation. The Oprah and Tony Marketing Strategy is basically the “overpromise, underdeliver” strategy on steroids.

Let’s face it, if you’re a writer or an expert of any kind, if you have a message and you think it’s your life purpose to deliver that message to the world, then getting on Oprah’s show or Tony’s stage is your path to greatness, right? After all, Oprah changed the lives of Dr. Phil, Rachel Ray, and Dr. Oz, among many others. And Tony Robbins’ stage is the Holy Grail of public speaking, shared only by the best of the best.

Of course you want to get noticed by Oprah and Tony. And that’s what smart marketers and salespeople are counting on.

Let me tell you what happened to me the other day:

I received an e-mail on Facebook from a producer of an internet radio show company, subject line “Media Request.” He said that his company was developing a new internet radio show about small business and that I’d come up on his “radar” as a credible expert. He said he wanted to talk to me to see about having me host the show.

Luckily, I had heard of this company before, otherwise I might’ve been flattered by the “media request” (which, btw, is typically reserved for interview requests). I have to confess, I already didn’t like this company to begin with, because they named their company specifically to take advantage of a well-known classic in American radio, in the hopes, I think, of confusing people into thinking they were going to be appearing on that program or station.

But the thing is, I wanted to know what they were selling – I know some people who have been taken in by them, so I wanted to know how much they charge and what they promise. So I set up the meeting with the guy and settled in for the sales pitch.

As expected, this was a perfect example of the Oprah marketing strategy. I heard all about the many famous authors this guy had produced shows for, the implication being that if I did the show, then I’d become a famous author just like them, nevermind that none of them were currently paying him a dime, nor could I get confirmation that they had paid this particular company for this particular service. The fee was $6,700 for a 13-week internet radio show, and the guy said they’d help me produce it and then market it for me, so all I would have to do is call in each week, do my show, and then go on my merry way, doing nothing whatsoever to market the show after that. And by the way, publicists, PR reps, agents, and producers for shows like Oprah listened in on this particular company’s broadcasts all the time to find new talent, and they call this guy all the time to find out “who’s hot” and who they should bring on their shows for interviews.

See how slick that is? So basically, for a mere $6,700, I could get famous with my own radio show, have to do virtually none of the marketing stuff we all hate, and get on the Oprah show??? And you know that’s what most people hear.

But you have to listen in between the lines and know enough to know when you’re getting scammed. The marketing services they offered were minimal, some were unnecessary, and frankly, you could do much better yourself.

More importantly, there are companies that offer the same services for free, or with cool add-ons, up to $999 for an entire year of your own internet radio show. So why would you pay almost seven grand for this? Oh yeah…because you might get on Oprah.

Let me tell you another story. This time, a woman who found me on Facebook contacted me and set up a phone meeting to talk about a public speaking training program she was developing. She wanted to ask me (as well as several others) what I would want in such a program, so she could make sure to include stuff that people really wanted to learn. When we talked on the phone, she dropped several well-known names and bragged about how she can get people on Tony Robbins’ stage.

People? Seriously? When someone is trying to sell you something and they tell you they can get you on stage with Oprah or Tony? Hang up. Delete the e-mail. That is one of the biggest red flags of all time. Unless you’re talking to Oprah’s producer or reading an e-mail from someone with an e-mail address ending in tonyrobbins.com, stop falling for this nonsense! None of the big names you know were overnight successes because they paid for an internet radio show, a public speaking program, or anything else.

And I hate to say this, because for some of you, this might sting a little. It might seem harsh, but it’s the truth, and you need to hear it.People use the Oprah and Tony Marketing Strategy to prey on people who believe that the world is waiting to discover them. These are the same people who have been told that all they have to do to be successful is find their “life purpose” or their “passion” and then everything will be easy.

Small business is not easy. It requires work. You have to work hard and you have to work smart. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can build a million-dollar (or multi-million dollar) business on a 4-hour work week! Sure, there are ways to work smart so that you don’t have to work a 40 or 60 hour work week, but please, stop looking for the easy way out. Stop looking for the easy answers or for the magic bullet and start taking responsibility for yourselves and for your success, and remember that unless you’re hiring a reputable publicist with a solid, proven track record, the likelihood of you getting on Oprah is…unfortunately…slim to none. Not impossible, but unlikely. And Oprah is not the only path to becoming notable. So settle down and pay your dues wisely, and it’ll be easier to spot the scams.

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