Monday, November 10, 2008

Marketing By Deception - Why I Avoid Using Some Products

More and more, I'm finding it increasingly unbelievable when I come across companies that use deceptive web marketing practices in an effort to pull-in audience or drive their demand generation programs.

For clarification, here's an example of what I mean. If you go to -- when you log-in, change a record, or perform virtually any activity -- once you click the "okay" button to submit the transaction, the next page you are taken to is an advertisement -- a pre-populated submission form that you might think is just a review of your data (if you're in a hurry). The default choice (the big button) submits your information to the advertiser. You have to actively select the "No Thanks" button each time. What's more, if you're updating your account, you may have to go through this screen several times.

Beyond the shear frustration of the interruption, the real problem with this type of advertising is the profile of who winds up in the lead pool. Do you really want a list of people who were deceived into signing up? What kind of loyalty can you build when your first interaction is deceptive? This is also the reason why I'm usually opposed to purchasing one of those "lead lists" -- one of those "I never thought of that" moments that frequently come up when the sales guy decides to try on a marketing hat.

On the reverse side of this topic is the discussion that I frequently have surrounding Google Adwords and Search Engine Marketing programs. One common thread I hear is "we keep getting all of these leads, but they're not any good." With several Adwords programs that I've run, the volume of inquiries that sales received rose dramatically, but because the products were picking up a small segment of a consumer market, many of the inquiries had high customer service requirements with low potential unit volume (one or two units). But it's important to remember that with Adwords, these people looked for the product, clicked on the ad, went to the site and read enough to bridge the gap and contact the company. Contrast that with someone who was tricked into signing up. These prospects may not have been an ideal fit for the product that sales was offering, but they had already bridged one major gap -- they were actually interested in the product.

Deception Marketing - Making it Go Away
For me, the aggravation of having to navigate deceptive or interruption marketing programs isn't just the shuck-and-dodge that you have to do to avoid getting lumped in -- particularly since you didn't want the product in the first place -- it's that there isn't a very good way to penalize the companies that do this type of marketing. If you don't like it, you just don't show up in their pool of prospects.

Imagine something that cataloged and scored this type of marketing. Maybe it might look like Scoville units, the system that they use to measure how spicy peppers are. Instead of being more spicy, marketing programs could be measured by degrees or units of Spam. After all, interruption marketing is basically Spam. And while spammers could probably care less, if you were a reputable organization, would you really want to have a high Spam score?

Unfortunately, I don't know of anything like this system. So, until then, my only choice is to call these programs out when I find them and they stand out in some way.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Is Barack Obama going to take the US Government Web 2.0?

Knowing what we know about President-Elect Obama's campaign methodology, what do you think the chances are that we're getting ready to see the Government go Web 2.0? Here are a couple of things that caught my eye that I think are worth thinking about. -- I just saw this yesterday and went to the site this morning. Getting ready to start a new venture? Create a web site. But isn't just brochure-ware. There are places to submit your email address, to provide suggestions, and to get engaged. Consider some of the Web 2.0 elements that they could add:
  • Dell uses's "Ideas" engine to enable their users to suggest ideas, vote on them, and shape the direction of products on services. Imagine the Ideas engine applied to government.
  • has ridden user-authored reviews to help drive their business far beyond many of their competitors. Imagine applying user-authored reviews to government.
  • Social networking and community used to be things that were assembled through physical activity on main street. During the era of radio, people gathered around radios and that shaped their relationship with the government. Imagine the social networking model applied to government.
Another aspect that's probably worth noting is related to transparency. While the Bush administration came into office with a cloak of secrecy over everything that they did, government wasn't always that way. Whether you call it "Sunlight" or something else, it's an aspect of government operations that have been AWOL for nearly eight years now. Now suppose that you're going to "Open-Source" the government? In order to do that, you have to expose the mechanisms so that everyone involved can participate.

One fundamental aspect of all of these elements is that they require community participation, customer participation, and real involvement. Ultimately -- as demonstrated during the election process -- Obama's ability to engage his customer base and get them to participate may wind up being the secret sauce in leveraging Web 2.0 technology to make transformational changes to the government.

I think that the possibilities look very interesting. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Barack Obama - Proving the Power of Web 2.0, The Long Tail, and Next Generation Marketing

While it's been obvious for some time, with the announcement of the election results, we now have another testament to the power of next-generation, long tail marketing.

Here's an examples of what I mean - Fund raising...

When you break down the high-volume, small contributor element of the Obama campaign fund raising, you're really talking about a Long Tail model. But the thing to highlight is not just that many individuals used the web to contribute small amounts - that same approach has been available and used since Howard Dean, but that Obama made those contibutions important. Valued. Engaged. Essentially, by providing this broad-based audience with a product that they could use, that they could believe in, Obama connected with his customers and was able to get them to become more involved than the sideline political spectator.