Sometimes marketing people are so smart that they outsmart themselves. I’m often asked for my opinion on ways to communicate with readers. I’ll tell these marketers–don’t try to fool them. Don’t masquerade advertising fluff for real information. People will download a vendor white paper and read it if it contains useful information. But, I say, be transparent. But if you entice them to download something that contains no real engineering information, just marketing buzz words, they’ll never come back.
But some marketers are so sure of themselves. Many still think that readers are stupid and that you can masquerade your marketing as objective, vetted content. What’s the saying? “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.” And today, word travels quickly.
Take note of this post by Peter Shankman. “This past week, Groupon got into a world of trouble for offering a Groupon to FTD that essentially saved no money at all. Instead, they suggested that FTD raise their prices, so that the Groupon would bring the price down to normal. People would buy, FTD would make money, and no one would be any the wiser.
“Except of course, for the fact that Groupon and FTD were exposed. They were caught lying, and of course, both sides denied, then when the facts truly came out, apologized. Both Groupon’s and FTD’s reputation took a pretty decent sized hit. How could this all have been avoided?
“By not lying to begin with.”
Or–a piece of valuable personal advice:
“There’s a reason I rarely drink anymore. It’s too easy to tweet a bad joke to a hundred thousand people at 2 in the morning after five Vodka Martinis. At 7am the next morning, that’s not going to seem so funny.”
Read the entire piece, but here’s the conclusion:
“We need to be smarter. Start by being smarter yourself. Surround yourself with smarter people. Work for smarter companies. Heck, even be the person who brings the smarter to the company where you work, letting them know they won’t have a company if the practices they’re doing continue.
“Nowadays, it’s only a matter of time.”
I’m starting to see stuff cropping up in lots of magazine sites and newsletters. If it were me, I’d rather be transparent and proud of what I’d done. Treat readers with respect and give them credit for intelligence.
Hear, hear! I think that one of the reasons that publishers are screaming about Apple's new subscription policies is that they're being forced into the modern economy. They aren't accustomed to paying customer acquisition costs or not being able to sell their readers' information to third parties. When told that they need to be transparent or – gasp! – provide real value that people will be willing to pay for, some of them are not able to cope.