The new direct marketing: Clever or manipulative?

When does direct marketing to your networks cross the line from clever marketing to sneaky manipulation?

Occasionally I receive advertising in the form of an email or direct message from business people in the outer reaches of my network that I have not met. This doesn’t bother me too much as I know the importance of spreading the word about a product, service or event and the value of connecting with those around you.

Wow, just for me?

But I do get annoyed when I begin reading what looks like a personal note to find it’s just a sneaky form of advertising – more than that, it’s almost like the wording is trying to suck you in deeper and deeper. It’s paragraphs and paragraphs of introduction, dropping comments about how many people they’ve helped and how good they feel solving other people’s problems. It might even include some specifics about your own business, so that when you do get to the point (that they’re trying to sell you something generic that you actually don’t want and have heard of a million times before anyway), you have already wasted 5 precious minutes of your day and worse, fractured your focus on something more important.

The worst, the absolute worst, is when it appears the sender has thought about what it is you actually do, but then you find hasn’t bothered to really find out anything about you because they’re a little off the mark. In my case, the classic is assuming I do weddings or that I own a portrait studio because they see the word ‘photography’.

A twisted message

Ok, I know that advertising is about persuasion. I know you need to think about your target market and push their emotional buttons. And I know that I should be suspicious of what looks like a personal letter when it’s from someone I don’t recall meeting. I just wonder, isn’t there a way to be effective with your message without hiding it among layers of pretending-to-care? The ‘I really want to help you’s and the ‘I know how you feel but here is the answer’s just turn my stomach.

Isn’t there such thing as coming from a position of ACTUALLY wanting to solve someone’s problem or meet a need, WHILE clearly demonstrating something for sale? Isn’t that just win-win?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T… you know how it goes

Do we have to be sneaky and manipulative about it, and to our direct contacts too? Maybe it’s time to step away from the marketing books and just think for a minute… these strategies must be used carefully, sensitively, and with RESPECT.

I’m no marketing expert, I just believe people are smart and can see through manipulative tactics. You can spot a phoney person a mile away. If you and your product or service holds integrity, surely people will be attracted to that?

It’s a tough market but this business lady won’t be resorting to direct marketing that isn’t anything but ‘direct’!