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Three people are dead and nearly two dozen hospitalized after participating in a sweat-lodge ceremony billed to help people "find a new vision for life." Behind the controversy and criminal investigation is James Arthur Ray, a self-help guru I saw in action at one of his free seminars in Phoenix, six months prior to the Sedona tragedy.

The man is a marketing wizard. I believe that a good part of his "show" is to generate prospects for his very expensive retreats, while the other may actually be genuine. It's hard not to buy into your own hype after pitching it for so long.
Last April, I saw a calendar notice in the Arizona Republic - a free seminar with James Arthur Ray, one of the contributors to the film "The Secret." Gee, I thought, maybe my 23-year-old son can benefit from this guy's message, so I signed us up. Here was the automated e-mail response to my registration:
Congratulations, Elaine!
On Tuesday, April 14, you will obtain some of the most effective and powerful success secrets known to man. That's because you've made the wise decision to participate in my ABSOLUTELY FREE live event on Tuesday, April 14 at 7:00 PM.
Please make a note on your calendar of the details so you don't miss out on this life-changing opportunity.
Bypass the registration lines! Click here to print your Fastpass ticket.
Since the room promises to be standing room only, please make arrangements to arrive early to register and guarantee your seat. (Or better yet, click the Fastpass link above.)
This is going to be an amazing program where you'll receive hard-hitting, real life, "rubber-meets-the-road" information that you can start using in your life immediately to catapult your results in all areas to phenomenal new heights.
Please don't let anything prevent you from attending this life-changing event. While there's still space available, you can invite your friends and family members to take advantage of this opportunity. Just click here to send them a personalized invitation.
Thanks again for participating, and get ready to enjoy more Harmonic Wealth® in all areas of your life just for committing to attend.
To your continued wealth and happiness,
James Arthur Ray
James Ray International
P.S. Get this, you'll also get a free copy of my hot new book Answers to Life's 11 Most Burning Questions. It's a special pre-release version that's yours free as a gift for attending, and it's not available any other way.
P.P.S. Since every available spot for this event is surely going to be taken (and we'll have to turn some people away), please, please, please be considerate. If you've registered for this fabulous event, make sure to participate. It wouldn't be fair to take one of the available spots and let it go to waste while others who really want to participate get turned away.

This is formulaic direct marketing copy - excellent content. It has all the right stuff to entice, create a sense of urgency and scarcity; offers an incentive, and an incredible promise - "you will obtain some of the most effective and powerful success secrets known to man."
The event was packed and Ray delivered on his speaking magic. By the end of 90-minutes, people were forking over their credit cards to sign up for his retreat. Quite amazing to witness. This wasn't a series of books or tapes that many professional speakers offer. This was a very expensive retreat worth thousands. And the audience was comprised of regular people - vulnerable people. Wealthy people are already doing well, so why attend?
I received four more e-mails in August and September from Ray with the sender name reading: "Support JRI Intro Events." He was looking for word-of-mouth referrals for the next three seminars in three different cities. And then, this week, I received another:
I'm continuing to devote all my energy to determine the facts surrounding the tragic accident at Sedona. I've instructed my representatives to meet with the authorities in Arizona and to share with those authorities the facts they learn. That process is ongoing.
In the meantime, I want to let you know that not only is this situation requiring all of my personal focus, it's also consuming my entire team's focus as well. For that reason, you can expect significant delays in responses to all general business requests. We have every intention of responding once we have helped determine what happened in Sedona.
Much love and respect,
James Arthur Ray
James Ray International, Inc.

We're hearing snippets of information almost daily about this man. Forget the criminal investigation for now and let's talk about his marketing activities and follow-up PR response to the incident. He abandoned his Sedona participants and took off after the incident. He continued speaking to conscript new retreat participants until last week in Toronto, when a sign notified attendees that the event was canceled. He sent a check for half the Sedona seminar cost (accompanied by a sympathy card) to the family of one of the victims. If you were his publicist, what would you advise him to do? What do you think of his marketing technique?

Continue reading "James Arthur Ray - Is He a Marketing Wizard Gone Awry?" ... Read the full article

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image of Elaine Fogel

Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.

LinkedIn: Elaine Fogel

Twitter: @Elaine_Fogel

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