Everyone in the marketing industry has something to learn from this business.

They’ve got one of the most aggressive niching systems known. But thanks to this niching system, they can discard vast portions of the potential market, concentrate their sales efforts on the very best prospects and, most of the time, generate a significant financial return on these qualified leads.

I am, of course, referring to the Nigerian E-mail Scam industry.

You’ve probably had one of their lead-qualification e-mails in the past. From some guy whose father was a Nigerian prince and had $5billion locked away in a bank account. Unfortunately, to access this money he needs some outside help. Could you provide that help for a small consideration, say $500 million?

And… it’s ridiculous. I’m guessing you didn’t fall for it, because 99.99% of people don’t.

So why make the e-mails so unbelievable? It certainly wouldn’t be hard to increase the response rate just by using a more realistic story.

The thing, is while sending the e-mail may be extremely cheap, running the rest of the scam isn’t. The scammers have to invest time and money before being paid. If, at any point during the process, the scamee works out that everything is not entirely legit, then that investment has been lost.

So the scammers narrow down their market. They niche.

The e-mails that go out aren’t meant to attract people so much as discard a whole huge bunch of potential leads. They’re written to be so obvious, so utterly ridiculous that only the most gullible are going to respond.

That is, the ones who have most chance of making it all the way through the funnel.

Marketing costs money. If you’re constantly investing time, effort and your marketing budget in leads who are have only the smallest chance of buying from you, you’re just throwing that money away.

This is particularly true for businesses who buy data in from brokers. Just because you’re aiming at businesses who have about the right number of employees or in the right industry doesn’t mean they are ever going to care about what you have to say.

Qualify your prospects. Find the best leads, and spend your money on them. The only thing that’s keeping you mailing the 60,000 leads who have never shown any interest is the thought that this time, just maybe, they’ll pull out their wallet. But if mailing the group didn’t make you a profit on the 20th mail, they’re not going to make you a profit on the 21st. If you insist on thinking they will… then it just so happens, my uncle is the Crown Prince of Siam and for a small initial investment he could make us all very, very rich…

P.S. The original research is here – quite dry, but well worth a read