Why Giving Away $1,001 is Brilliant

by Nate St. Pierre on April 16, 2012

So there’s this guy named Ramit, who runs a business called I Will Teach You to be Rich. Subtle he is not. If you’re anywhere near the personal finance niche, you know who he is. And if you’re not, you may have heard of him through his appearances on many of the major news networks, the Wall Street Journal, etc. etc.

One week from today, he’s going to be giving a personal check for $1,001 to one person, and anyone can request a chance to get it. I know Ramit’s stuff, so I can tell you it’s totally legit – he will give this money with no strings attached. I’ll tell you why in a minute, but first check out the offer here: How Would You Spend $1,000?

On the surface it’s billed as a social experiment to see what you would do with the extra $1,000, and that is true. He may want to prove one of his points – that getting a big tax refund at the end of the year is actually a good thing, because of the psychology of money: many people will apply a big “free money” bonus towards paying down debt or something equally profitable, as opposed to spending it all right away. My thought is that he’ll contend that most people, if they take advice telling them not to give the government their money “on loan” throughout the year, would just spend the extra $83 per month without even thinking about it, and not use it wisely, to pay down debt or whatever. Maybe that’s his point, and maybe not. I’m certainly no financial expert, so we’ll just have to tune in and see what he has to say next week.

What it really is, though (and this is what makes Ramit an evil genius), is a very powerful way to attract a ton of attention and get a ton of new subscribers. He is literally giving away a large sum of money in exchange for people giving him their name and email address. He’s basically paying for a list of qualified leads. And I can tell you that the value he’s going to get from these leads and the accompanying attention for this little experiment is going to be worth way more than $1,000 for him. Way more.

Ramit sells a lot of different informational products, most of which are both valuable and expensive. He also knows how to work a prospect, so once you sign up to get the $1,000, you’ll be on one of his mailing lists, and he’ll talk to you through that, get you comfortable, pique your interest, and then offer you one of his products. I’ll bet if he gets 10 – 20 conversions this little experiment will break even for him in terms of time and money investment, and everything else will be pure profit.

He’ll probably get 182 conversions.

I’m not knocking him at all for this. I think it’s a brilliant strategy, and fits perfectly with his personal brand. I do in fact find him pretty abrasive, and I’m not a fan of his personality, but that doesn’t stop me from following him and listening to him, because he does indeed know his stuff.

And now that bastard’s got me on another one of his email lists, because when I decided to write this post, I figured I should probably sign up for the $1,000 just to see what happens. And you know what happens? He gives you an affiliate code and tells you to share it around, because the more people that sign up under your code, the more chances you have to win the $1,000 for yourself. Sounds suspiciously like the Fast Company Influence Project, which I infamously hijacked two years ago, and then surrendered a day later, after learning a few things.

Ramit is combining the allure of lottery-type money with the influence-peddling tactics of Fast Company, and the result promises to be huge . . . for him.

Well played, sir.

Thanks to Dead Doodles for the brilliant evil genius illustration. Gotta love the internet.

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