My last few articles have touched on Marketing with Heart. Today I’m going to address the opposite approach, malicious marketing. The ability to create or reshape perception is an awesome force and, as the old saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility”.
Here’s how it’s supposed to work: you have a product that people need and you want to get the word out so they can make informed purchasing decisions. So you let them know about the product, they either buy it or they don’t, based on a bewildering number of factors.
In reality, it often looks quite different than that. If you’re creating, say, a patent drug that costs 700 time more than an off-patent generic, you may need to introduce a little emotional manipulation into your marketing mix.
Or if you’re R. J. Reynolds and you notice kids aren’t smoking your Camel cigarettes, why not use a cartoon camel to bring them into your sales cycle?
Or you could use some pretty shady emotional manipulation to alter the outcome of a major election in a way that will surely act against the better interests of the people you conned into voting for your candidate.
It Happened to Me…
I was reminded of this subject because I was the target of a few malicious marketing campaigns just the other day. Somehow, I wound up on a robo-call list of cell phone numbers and was inundated for weeks. The volume of calls faded eventually but not before I was “informed” that the IRS was opening an active case file against me and that I was at risk of losing my citizenship and to, “not even think of ignoring this call”.
Another call was “my final warning” that my car warranty was expiring and I had only this phone call as an opportunity to pull out my credit card and make a payment to extend it. Thanks to my dad having an awesome collection of tools, and my intense desire to use them, I’m something of an amateur mechanic. As such, I’ve never had a car warranty in my life.
I’m a fairly aware guy. I play in technology every day and know a thing or two about persuasion and influence. But if it had been my mother or father on that call? I’m not so sure they wouldn’t have made an instant payment for a warranty that doesn’t exist. Or given their social security numbers to the “IRS” and who knows what other information?
That’s malicious marketing – using people’s fears to manipulate them into giving you what you want, whether that be money, information or the highest office in the land.
If you’re reading this, I have assume that you are working toward build a genuine and transparent company, one that feeds your soul and propels you toward what you’ve realized is your version of success and connection. If that’s truly the case, it will benefit you greatly to recognize marketing malice, to know how it works, and then to run screaming in the other direction.