Mass Marketing Madness
A recent event has caused me to reflect about the approaches used by some mass marketers. The other day my inbox was inundated with a number of comments posted to my blog here. The system dutifully informed me of close to one hundred and fifty comments posted in response to some of the musings I've written here. My initial response was sheer joy, thinking that I'd finally written something that had provoked some kind of mass response, until my innate skepticism started to kick in momentarily afterwards.
The reality was my blog had been spammed, and heavily, there is still evidence of the spammer in a couple of other comments posted to this site. Needless to say I've taken some preventative measures to hopefully block this from happening again. Though not effective in getting me to buy into their marketing efforts the spammer was successful in getting me to think about various mass marketing techniques that I've been subjected to over a period of time. I'm sure that everyone has been subjected to these at some time, bulk emails at both home and at work, the never ending proliferation of tree carcasses in the waste bucket in the lobby awaiting my own contribution and the endless phone calls while I'm attempting to scarf down a meal in between arriving home from work and trying to find time in order to write my latest blog entry. All of which is beginning to manifest itself in my reactions to the various attempts at various marketers to confiscate my cash. Reactions varying from banning spammers in my blog to the question posed to me by a telemarketer asking "does your phone have any features that you like?", elicited the response, "why yes it does, it makes this ringing noise when someone wants to talk to me."
Perhaps I'm a little jaded because I've been in the unique position of both being responsible for buying and producing marketing materials for print, video and internet medias. But, when my mailbox is crammed with gardening, home improvement and patio furniture ads and my inbox offers drug, mortgage and knock off watch ads I can feel the bile rising in the back of my throat. I think the bad taste comes not from the sheer quantity of material that not only wants to walk away with my money but also is trying to steal my time as well. Also, there's the validity of the material that I'm asked to wade through. I might be interested planting some peas and carrots, paneling the den, and having friends over to admire my new patio furniture if I lived in something else other than a one bedroom apartment with a twenty square foot balcony. Or, maybe if the emails hitting my in basket offered something more than the latest script kiddies' version attempt at beating my spam filters. Then, perhaps my response would be something other than a flick of the wrist aimed at the trash receptacle or the almost autonomous tapping of the delete key.
This proliferation of madness seems to pervade both the producers and distributors of mass marketing materials. Designers in all ranges of media are asked to try and take advantage of the latest fads and crazes trying to shoe horn their client's product into a mold that just doesn't fit, whether that be a fifty dollar logo or a bad ad campaign. When it comes time for distribution the philosophy seems to be to try and fling enough feces in the hope that enough of it will eventually stick to it's intended target and garner the appropriate response. It seems I've traveled this verbal path before but I think there has to be a better way to interest potential consumers of the validity of one's product.
So, I find myself posing the questions. Does the material you are presenting to your potential buying public do you justice? Does it present you, your company and your product in the best possible way? Does it represent you honestly? Does it promise to make you bigger, better, harder, faster, skinnier and all at twenty percent cheaper than your competitors or in reality is it the same thing the other guy is trying to sell and you just want to ride the train too? Have you done your research? Are you sending this material out to prospects that are really interested in your product or are you doing your part to ensure that there's enough material in the landfill to ensure that the next new subdivision has a good solid foundation?
I'm not opposed to good advertising. I get emails from companies announcing new software titles, books, and more, that I'm actively interested in. I buy magazines and because there's products related to the content of the magazines I will read the advertising. The evolution of the consumer is happening; spam filters, do not call me lists, site blocking, and stickers that litter the mailboxes in the lobby all with the same message "no junk mail" are all evidence of a different type of buyer. The new reality will be well researched advertising and support material that presents a true and honest picture of the product and company that produces it. We'll that's my hope, and the evidence in the corner seems to be growing.