weirdTrickI confess that this blog post is mostly a rant.

We’ve all seen them: The direct mail pieces in your mailbox with envelopes designed to look like a critical notice from your bank or a government agency. This is a type of marketing that gives marketers a bad name. These things must be effective, or else they would have been abandoned long ago. But why? Who is falling for this stuff?

Another type of marketing that is prevalent online is where sensationalism is used as the lure to trick you to click on a banner ad or open an email. The photo of a two-headed puppy that leads to a site to sell you socks. The “one weird trick” and “your ___ doesn’t want you to know this” email subject lines that get you to buy goodness-knows-what.

A less sinister example of underhanded marketing is the email from an otherwise valid company (not an evil spammer) which is written in a tone that implies that you are buddies or it is a follow-up on previous contact.

I find this marketing  annoying, and even, to use the vernacular, it pisses me off. Did you trick me into opening your envelope by masquerading as a check or an audit warning from the IRS, only to try to sell me an insurance plan or to advertise a seminar? Guess what?  Not only will I not buy your product or service, I will forever associate you with underhanded, intelligence-insulting, dishonest shenanigans and will go out of my way to NOT do business with you.

It’s about respect

These methods are  dishonest, or at least reside in the same camp. Rather than touting differentiated features or communicating product value, they mislead, sensationalize, and exclusively target emotional triggers to suck browsers into opening the envelope, opening an email, or clicking that ad.

Dear Underhanded Advertiser: Using this tactic tells me that you think I am a sucker and you have absolutely no respect for me. It tells me that you either do not value or understand your own product well enough to market it honestly, or you know it’s sub-par and you must rely on underhanded marketing and the numbers game to make your profit.

Thank you for your blatant disrespect. Maybe your product would have been perfect for me, but not only did you not bother to tell me about its features in a straightforward way, I now have a very strong prejudice against your company and your product. This is just bad marketing.

So what are we to do?

As long as there are people out there who click those banner ads and call those 800-numbers, this sleazy style of marketing will continue on.

one-weird-trickJoin me in very pointedly boycotting these ads. Never click them. If they show up on your Facebook page, report them as inappropriate or at least indicate that you don’t want them there. If direct mail arrives in your snail-mailbox that uses these underhanded tactics, use their postage-paid envelope to tell them what you think (but do not provide your return address or you will end up on more lists!).


Moral of the story

Never reward these underhanded, disrespectful companies by doing business them. If they tell you about a product you are interested in, go to Google and look for a competitor.



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