Ridiculous Marketing

Seth Godin’s blog is really good, he looks at marketing from a common sense consumer perspective. So I thought of him today when I saw what can only be described as the least effective form of advertising I’ve ever seen.

I’d parked my car on the street and as I went out to run, I saw I had a ticket. Screaming obscenities, I walked over to look at and found that it wasn’t a ticket. It was a yellow advertisement for a sandwich shop purposely placed face down to trick me, which I promptly tore up and threw on the ground.

Clearly somewhere along the line things went horribly, horribly wrong. No such thing as bad PR right? Let’s make an exception here. What do you gain by making your customer feel like a jackass? What good is it to associate your name with fear and anger? Why would I ever want to stop by and get a sub-sandwich at a place that goes around trying to fuck with me?

This is a bit of a litmus test that I think more marketers ought to use. What good is getting noticed if you have to manipulate or piss someone off to do it? For instance, you might be hoping to get someone to read an email you’ve written. Well, you could employ some less than ethical techniques to ensure its opening–URGENT, or RE: or whatever. But why bother if you can’t deliver? Why try so hard to make sure I check out your flier, if I am going to be angry shortly there after.

The point is this: More than anything else, the customer wants to feel RESPECTED. That’s why transparency is so huge right now, people are tired of feeling worked over. So it seems to me that you gain more by having a few pleased and happy customers then a whole bunch of pissed off ones.

I’d like to hear your guys’ most ridiculous stories about bad marketing

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.