2004-09-16

Marketing is Overdone

I was reading Do I Have "Sucker" Written Across My Forehead? on the Some Girl blog.

She was talking about how both during a manicure and then at a fast food place they kept trying to get her to buy more.

I started writting a comment on her blog about the entry. But when I realized I had written 2 long paragraph, and that I still could say more, I knew it was time to make my own blog entry about it...

I know they have to do their marketing, trying to sell you something extra. The bosses make it part of their jobs. But I don't like it. And maybe it really isn't worth it.
And all those salespeople who keep asking if you 'need help?'. No I don't want your help. Not yet at least. I want to try to find it in my own. Does that sound so strange? Look, I didn't make eye-contact with you. I was looking at your products, not looking for a salesperson. I went deep into the store, purposely going right past you. If I'm looking for a salesperson, you will see me walking around looking at each person, trying to see if they have a name badge or uniform or some-such. If you see that, then that is a good time to ask if I want you help. Of course that is usually when they are all busy. Especially at HomeDespot or CompOoohsa. But I know how to find the customer service counter and have one of you paged to help me.

No I don't want you following me around the store to see if I need help. Here is a clue: I might just be trying to familiarize myself with you products and layouts, so I feel comfortable coming back. If you rush me into getting exactly what I want, I might not know you have other things I want to come back for. I might not feel like coming back if I'm in a rush and if I haven't had a chance to get a feel for the layout. And here is another one: if you get me exactly what I'm looking for right away, you are reducing the chances I make some impulse buys. I often buy other things at the supermarket that I think we need at home.
But you should know that I almost never, ever buy something from the overpriced convenience racks at the checkouts. What do you find on these convenience racks? Dumb magazines and dumber tabloids. Candy positioned at the height to entice a kid to annoy their parents until they never want to come back. Junk food that will do it's best to push my cholesterol over the line. Does this sound like stuff I would buy? Does this sound like it will make me want to buy more, or to come back if I feel annoyed? No.

Sometimes it seems like the part I hate most about looking at cars has moved into more and more areas of our society. Walking onto a car lot, I can just hear the music from Jaws and the salesmen come over with their toothy grin. Not just come over, they verbally pounce on you. It is enough to make me want not to come to your sales lot. A lot of cars dealers lost our business that way. And then there was the Honda dealership in Freehold that wouldn't take my wife seriously. Another one who lost our business. But we bought twice from Freehold Toyota. They didn't pressure us or pounce on us. They were very helpful when we asked. They were willing to make much better deals than the Toyota dealers that were closer to our house. So they got our business twice. And we recommended them [and I still am ;-) ]. And even though I live in Colorado, I'd seriously consider buying from them during a trip East when thinking about a new car.

It was interesting that in the local paper today, they were talking about over-marketing. They were talking about how commercials and advertising is changing on television. It is getting more aggressive and insidious. Some of it is to fight the TiVo-factor, skipping commercials. But a lot of it has to do with just stuffing more marketing in our faces.

Yes, marketing stronger make give you some extra brand recognition, and some extra sales. In the short run. But do you really want to push the marketing so far that I am annoyed with it? I don't think you do. It just makes people question marketing and avoid it. My sons are already commercial critics. Oh, they are wooed by some of the commercials. But they also have learned to question commercials. If it looks so good on TV, then that product must not be anywhere as good, and just cost a whole lot more. It doesn't take many times of being disappointed to get the idea.

Let me give you some really concrete personal reasons why over-marketing is a bad idea. Lets talk about Pop-up and pop-under ads. They must have made some money for some sites for a while. But I found them pretty offensive, very quickly. I won't click on them. I will occasionally click on banner ads - if they don't flash too much. And these new pop-in ads! Boy do I hate them. I hit reload as soon as I see one. But going back a few years: I used to have Yahoo as my startup page for my browser. But they had all these pop-ups and pop-under ads. I wrote to Yahoo and complained. They responded: they said they had to do it for the money. They also gave me a link to stop the pop-ups. For a month. A month! Well that month was up pretty quickly. It didn't take me long to get really sick of the pop-ups again. Then Google announced that they do not have pop-ups and will not add them. So I switched my startup/home page to Google, and I haven't looked back.

So Yahoo lost me as a regular search engine customer. Yahoo lost respect from me as a company. But they are not the only losers. Because I also remember what all those pop-up ads were for: X10 cameras. Just lately I was thinking I could use a remote switch for some of the lights in my basement. The kids are always leaving on this one set of lights down there. And it is a pain to have to go downstairs to have to turn off the light because it is when I'm ready to go upstairs, and who wants to go down a flight of stairs and then up two when you are tired and heading for bed? Well, it isn't really possible to rewire the switch to work from upstairs without putting in a huge amount of effort. So I thought that an X10 remote switch would be a good solution. I was just thinking about it last night. And I decided I didn't want to buy an X10 switch because of all those annoying X10 camera pop-up ads. I might eventually look for a non-X10 brand remote switch. Of figure another way to wire it. But I won't give X10 my money because of all those pop-up and -unders.

So Yahoo loses. X10 loses. All because of over-marketing.

Who wants to lose my business today?

1 comment:

Digichrome said...

I couldn't agree more. It amazes me that I can stop into Starbucks every morning and order the same thing (Venti Traditional Coffee) yet every once in awhile the sales persons says something like "would you like a delicious pastry?". I'm so tempted to start ranting along the lines of "did I ASK you for one? Have I EVER asked you for one?" But my politeness takes hold and I just say "no, thanks".

One minor correction to your X10 comment though: The pop-up ads you talk about were for X10 cameras from a particular vendor. X10 in and of itself is just a communications standard: http://www.smarthome.com/about_x10.html . Don't throw the baby out with the bath water :)