Dear Business Builder,
Not too long ago I was in Manhattan … treating The Redhead and the kids to a few Broadway shows and all the sights.
We have a nice suite right on Times Square – a short walk from Rockefeller Center, the Theater District and more great delicatessens than you could shake a Knish at.
I love kosher food. In fact, I’ve always said I shoulda been born Jewish. Not only do they have great food, they’ve got more holidays. Plus, they’ve got great-looking women(!). And anytime I see a religion that uses that much wine in their observations – hey: I’m IN!
But alas, I was born a poor, whitebread Anglo-Saxon protestant straight male. And not when being a straight white male (SWM) came with any perks, either.
Due to a combination of bad luck and poor personal planning, I was born into this fraternity just as it was becoming the one minority group it’s politically correct to despise.
These days, us SWMs get the blame for just about everything – from slavery, to the subjugation of the Indians, to the oppression of the Chinese, to the repression of women, to the rape of the environment, to the heartbreak of psoriasis.
Now, don’t get me wrong: It’s not that I wouldn’t have just loved to have snatched up most of South Dakota for myself when Sitting Bull was taking a potty break …
… But I wasn’t even alive when all that was going on – and that pretty much limited my opportunities to join the party.
Nevertheless, like Cain and Able – who got their prenatal butts unceremoniously tossed out of the Garden of Eden through no fault of their own – us SWMs are now making restitution for the sins of our fathers.
Flick on the boob tube after 7:00 PM, and you’ll be treated to hours of TV shows and commercials portraying us SWMs as blithering idiots, insensitive philistines and beer-swilling buffoons.
Black and Latin guys? They’re cool – or is it “fly?”.
Asian guys? They’re smart.
Women? Capable, sexy, sensitive.
Gay guys? Quirky, gifted, fun.
Straight white guys like Homer Simpson, The King of Queens and me? Clueless, oafish, vulgar – or worse: Venal, greedy, conspiratorial, and mindlessly violent.
I swear: It’s getting to the point where just reading the TV Guide listings makes me feel like the caveman in those Geico commercials!
That’s OK though … I’m a big boy and I can take it. You won’t hear any whining from me. Sticks and stones and all that stuff.
It’s that other oppressed minority I’m really starting to worry about –a minority that YOU belong to — or will soon …
The Evil Rich
Like you, I’ve always tried to make wise choices, to work hard and to manage my money wisely.
So for the last three decades plus, I’ve put in back-breaking hours … suffered through the lean times … scrimped, sacrificed and saved in the good times … and reinvested my profits to hire folks and expand my business.
And lo and behold, it all began to pay off for me back in the early 1980s.
That’s when I committed the ultimate sin: I became officially “rich.”
Now, when I say I got “rich,” I do not mean Jay Rockefeller rich (net worth $200 million). Or Diane Feinstein rich ($50 million). Or even Nancy Pelosi rich ($13 million).
But about 25 years ago, I crossed the $350,000-per-year income threshold – just enough for the millionaires in Congress to declare me “rich” with a straight face.
Now, as we all know, when Congress wants to discourage a particular behavior, it passes a law that imposes fines on the evil-doers.
The fine for working hard is called the “income tax.”
And, like a couple of Satanic parents, the House and Senate use income taxes to punish us when we’re good and reward us when we’re naughty.
Make dumb choices, squander your opportunities and wind up poor – and not only won’t they fine you, they’ll give you all kinds of free stuff.
Make wise choices, work diligently and become successful – you’d better watch out: Congress is going to fine the bejezus out of you.
When your income passes the $350,000 mark, you graduate into the highest income tax bracket – which entitles you to pay Washington thirty-five cents out of ever dollar you make.
That means in an average 260-day working year, you’ll work 91 days for free – giving the government 100% of the money you earn.
Or, put another way, if you come to work every day at 9:00, everything you earn before 11:48 AM goes to Washington to squander any way it sees fit.
Now, if you’re thinking, “No problem; I’ll just skip that part of the day – show up for work at 11:48 and then keep everything I earn.”
Nice try, no cigar. I already ran that one by my CPA. He just rolled his eyes.
OK … so now, you’re probably thinking: “Jeeze, Clayton, you make a LOT of money every year – quit bitching about a lousy 35% income tax, will ya?”
I’m sorry – didn’t I mention this isn’t about me? It’s about you and your quest to become rich.
See, despite what Washington and the media tell you, high taxes never hurt the truly rich.
Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, George Sorros and all the millionaires in Congress already have their money. Ditto for corporate CEOs, with their hundred-million-dollar bonuses … Hollywood celebs with their $20 million-a-picture deals … or trust-fund babies with their bazillion-dollar inheritances.
Not only are these folks already set for life, they can afford armies of high-priced tax accountants to shrink their tax bills down near-zero.
On the other hand, high taxes do hurt folks who can’t get a job because their prospective employers just sent their salary to Washington.
But most of all …
High taxes hurt people like you:
Folks working to become rich.
Making good money each year is one thing. Building long-term wealth and saving for retirement while putting kids through college … caring for elderly parents … and flushing more than a third of your income down the Congressional crapper is quite another.
Especially since that 35% federal income tax bite is just the beginning. If you’re self-employed, Uncle Sam wants another 15% to cover your Social Security and Medicare premiums – and depending where you live, you could also get slammed for as much as 9.5% in state income taxes.
That’s 59.5% of your income confiscated before you ever see it – enough to shrink the $350,000 income that just made you “rich” down to $141,750.
Sure – you’ll have deductions at tax time and they’ll help plump up your refund. But the government isn’t through with you yet – not by a long shot.
You’re going to have to spend a bunch of what you still have on “extravagant” things like food, shelter, clothing, transportation – and of course, energy.
And guess what? You’ll have to pay state sales taxes of 5%, 6%, 7% or more on most of those things.
Then, there are the annual taxes on stuff you already own – like your cars and your house: Depending on where you live, that’s good for another multi-thousand-dollar yearly expense.
Plus, everything you buy has huge taxes tucked away in the price you pay for them.
Take that new car for example:
- Every company involved in supplying the iron to make the steel … the oil to make the plastics and all the other raw materials…
- Every company that used those raw materials to produce finished parts…
- Every company that transported those finished parts to the factory for assembly and the factory itself…
- The company that transported the finished car to the dealership and the dealership itself…
… Every one of those companies is paying taxes out the wazzoo: Property taxes … matching FICA contributions … sales taxes on everything they buy … taxes on their profits …
… And each of those taxes is cheerfully passed on to you — included in the price you paid for that car.
So how much does all that cost you every year? I don’t think anyone knows for sure – but a few years ago, the National Taxpayer’s Union estimated that the average new car would cost 66% less if all those taxes could be removed from the sticker.
So let’s recap: Up to 60% of the money you earn is confiscated before you see it – for federal and state income taxes and FICA payments …
… And when you spend the rest, up to 66% of that money winds up in a politician’s hands, too.
Do the math and you’ll see: Government is already costing you somewhere around 75% of what we earn each year.
That $350,000 would spend like $1.4 million if there were no taxes.
Thanks to taxes, it spends more like $87,500.
And don’t even think about getting me started on how the massive budget deficits Washington’s running slash the spending power of that eighty-seven grand by 30% to 50% every decade or so!
Now – you ready for the kicker?
THEY WANT MORE!
As we all now, Congress is threatening to levy even larger fines on you for earning more than $350,000 per year – which (finally!) brings me to the points I set out to make in the first place …
Profits Live at the Intersection
of Need and Emotion
Despite the fact that April 15th is bearing down on us like a run-away train, only a minority of Americans have any idea of the enormity of the shellacking they’re about to receive.
In one of the slickest, sleaziest marketing ploys of all time, the government has convinced them that April 15 is a good thing. After all — it means they’re about to get their tax refunds!
You know: The money the government’s been forcibly borrowing from them all year long without paying interest on it?
But most of the rest — tens of millions of business owners … entrepreneurs … investors … and the senior citizens who make up the majority of our prospects for health products … are aware of what’s going on … and most of them are royally pissed off.
THINK: How can you tie your product to your prospect’s indignation … frustration … and his desire to win even a small victory over Washington pick-pockets?
I’m often amazed at how few of my clients think about this when planning promotions to their customers.
See, when I design customer file strategies for a client, I try to avoid “one-size-fits-all” promotions like the plague.
Instead, I focus on two far more effective types of promotions:
1. Horizontal promotions: Highly personal promotions that go to customers who have something in common: A birthday, an anniversary, a product preference, for example.
Choose any demographic or psychographic you wish – sex, age, buying frequency or recency, average purchase, largest purchase, cumulative purchase – whatever.
Then, craft a promotion and a special offer just for the folks who match that criteria. Let them know why they’ve been selected for this honor.
Then, sit back and watch your response go through the roof.
2. Vertical promotions: These are the direct mail and e-mail promotions I send to the entire file – but they’re not promotions you could have sent them anytime.
Each of these vertical promotions is sent to the entire file to commemorate something we’re all experiencing together.
It could, for example be designed to help them deal with a situation that’s currently in the news.
Or, it could be keyed to a specific date – like the New Year … Valentine’s Day … Halloween … Thanksgiving … Christmas … George Birthington’s Washday …
… OR, the two most crucial times in a taxpayer’s financial life: December 31 and April 15.
Craft special promotions that connect with your prospects’ dominant emotions at these times, and I guarantee it: Your response will soar.
Never Forget How Powerful
Envy Can Be
Millions of Americans dream about success. They fantasize about life as a successful entrepreneur … a rich celebrity … or even a lucky lottery winner.
And yet many of those same people just voted for politicians who freely admit they intend to raise taxes on successful people.
I wonder how many of those voters really connected the dots. How many realized that when their dreams of success come true, the vote they just cast will cost them tens of thousands of dollars every year – maybe even hundreds of thousands – for the rest of their natural lives?
Why would a sane person daydream of getting rich one minute and then vote for folks who promise to tax him to death when he becomes rich the next?
Simple: Envy is a powerful emotion. And emotion trumps reason every time.
THINK: How can you harness your prospect’s envy of folks who are richer, healthier, younger, luckier, better looking to get his attention and readership and to make a sale?
That’s the idea behind the entire mutual fund industry – it goes something like this:
“Until now, only the super-rich could afford to own every stock traded on the Dow Jones Industrial average. Only the rich could enjoy the enhanced profit potential and safety that kind of diversification can give you.
“That’s just not fair, and it’s just not right. That’s why we created the XYZ mutual fund – to give you the same “unfair” advantage that the super-rich think is their birthright.”
Getting TRULY Rich Is Your Only Defense
“Reach for the stars,” the wise man said; “You may not catch one, but you won’t wind up with a fistful of mud, either.”
Learn to think big. The bigger, the better. Whatever your financial goals are now, double them. And then double them again.
After all – since they’re swiping up to 75% of your money, it follows you’ll need four times more to live the life you deserve.
So work smart. Work hard. Most of all, never give up.
As the Romans were (supposedly) fond of saying, “Illegitimi non-carborundum” – don’t let the bastards grind you down.
Yours for Bigger Winners, More Often,
Publisher & Editor
THE TOTAL PACKAGE
Looking for past issues of The Total Package? Click here for our archives.
Want to share or reprint this article? Feel free. Just give us full attribution and a link to our Home Page when you do.
Attribution Statement: This article was first published in The Total Package. To sign-up to receive your own FREE subscription to The Total Package and claim four FREE money making e-books go to www.makepeacetotalpackage.com.