Elizabeth Marsten // Nov 12 2009
While this is a true story, it took me awhile to stop being creeped out and make the connection to how this could apply to internet marketing.
Once while home was a mere four blocks from a friend’s house (granted I crossed a major avenue in which prostitution is a known issue, but 35 blocks south) I was marketed to offline by a young man in a red car.
The young man followed me off the major road onto a side street and offered me a ride. I of course declined, since I was only 200 feet from my home, it was midnight and duh, don’t take rides from strangers. (Like how you don’t buy with your credit card from a non-secure site.)
But clearly he wanted to create a relationship and deliver a message to me, like any advertiser with something to offer.
First Impression of the product- the landing page, wasn’t bad. He asked if I wanted a ride and he asked nicely. Which I politely declined.
Since I was still “on the page” he changed the message to keep marketing and see if he could entice me with a different offer.
This next “offer” was increased in intensity and delivered faster.
He then asked me “Wanna s— my d— for money. It’s real big.”
Ignore the fact that there is no way that I am going to do this. But instead, let’s examine where the message, audience and intent went wrong.
First part, he didn’t do his market research. He was marketing to the entirely wrong audience. I was not dressed, in the right physical location or acting in any manner that would indicate that I was in his market. Clearly I was not even interested in engaging into any conversation with him for that matter. You could say his keyword list and personas were all wrong.
Second part, he used the wrong incentives. Why would size appeal to me? How does that help me? It was a call to action that didn’t make me want to act. If you can’t make an offer that people will actually want, how can you expect them to buy?
He did mention payment up front, which is always good to be clear about. Hidden prices, fees and shipping costs lead to cart abandonment.
While my first thought to his remark was “I doubt it.” I blurted out a very loud “NO.”
At this point, we’ll call that a bounce. I have left the page. I am going on to another site.
This is where he should have considered brand management and taken his business elsewhere, rather than push the issue and do damage to his reputation. Instead, he continued to follow me and very loudly asked “what about s– for money?”
So, if I turned down the first two (and in comparison) lesser offers of interaction, why would I be OK with the third much more um, interactive action?
There are a couple of different things going on here. The first is that based on his intended audience, he did the right thing by starting out smaller and working up. The issue was that I was not in that in the intended audience, and therefore means that he should have changed his approach or gone to where his intended audience was. Obtaining a new customer outside your intended audience, particularly if they’re not even remotely interested in your sales funnel requires a lot more research and methodology. Not only that, but being able to gauge your potential customer’s intent and dynamically adjust your message is just a basic marketing principle.
The second is that no matter what you are offering, selling or even giving away, sometimes people just don’t want it. Know when it’s not the keywords, the landing page or even the shopping cart. Sometimes it really is the product.
At this point I pull out my phone threatening to call the cops if he does not vacate the area immediately. (There also might have been the use of profanity.) Another giant red flag. If you have gotten the customer to the point that they are threatening legal action and using cuss words, you’ve gone too far with your approach.
He then called me a “b—-” and sped off.
When a customer or potential customer turns you down, despite repeated attempts at making a sale, do not call them names. Not only do you create a horrific user experience, but they will probably go online and tell everyone they know. Yelp, City Search, blogs, Twitter and Facebook will ensure that everyone will know and an online record of the experience recorded for future years to come. At this point, it’s not only brand management, but hoping that the customer did not get your license plate number and is now telling the local police department.
So, don’t market to me like I’m a prostitute. Do your research.
**Note: I have not been approached again since the initial incident. Probably due to my taking to carrying around a baseball bat.
Elizabeth supervises the overall search division at Portent, which includes PPC, SEO and Social Media. Check out her modest brag link bundle if you really want to know more: http://bitly.com/bundles/ebkendo/5 She has also written ebooks, is a regular on the Portent blog and speaks on PPC across the USA at various conferences. Read More