The Downside of Aggressive Marketing

Many years ago I worked for Mercury Communications which at the time was the sole alternative to BT for phone services. We naturally hated BT (how little some things change!) and were irritated by their “Come back to BT” campaign. We had won a contract to supply a phone connection to every traffic light in the country, which was used to monitor them. After BT green-lighted their direct mail campaign, they sent a letter to each of the thousands of lights, urging them to return to BT. Too bad the traffic lights couldn’t read. I still find this a funny story, but it has some up-to-date lessons. Sure, be aggressive with your sales and marketing. But make sure you get it right, and don’t push things too far. It may backfire.

A colleague of mine recently bought a high end digital camera. Now wherever he turns, he sees adverts for the identical camera. This is increasingly happening on the web, even when you’ve just looked at a product accidentally. After that, you just can’t get away from it.

Anyone using your computer gets an insight into what you’ve bought and viewed. Apart from the irritation factor, this “remarketing”, as the service from Google is known, does have questions around privacy and the use of cookies.

A while ago I visited the site of a US E-Commerce company that is trying to expand into Europe. Ever since I visited their site, I have been inundated with ads everywhere on the web. They are ultra aggressive, and make many bold claims. And they have pages of material comparing competitors unfavourably with themselves.

Is this US-style aggression good?

It made me check a few things. Like at the time of writing they don’t appear to be registered with the Information Commissioners Office, which is a legal obligation. And they claim to have approval under PCI DSS, the bank’s card security rules, but their certification is only valid in North America. And their comparison with my company Sellerdeck was so full of lies that they have completely withdrawn it following a stiff letter from our lawyers.

Aggression? By all means, but keep it controlled, keep it intelligent, and keep it clean.

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