Yesterday I received one of those hilarious examples of selling tactics that exactly contradict the pitch. This one was somebody selling business coaching and online marketing, hoping to target business owners. He was using an annoying website comment bot with generic praise, and links to a very ugly website full of absurd promises in bright red large fonts spiced with all caps and exclamation points, with audio that just starts talking at you when you get there.
I felt bad for the guy. Maybe he’s a nice guy, the victim of schlocky marketing services himself. Maybe he doesn’t realize how bad his pitch is. And I don’t like to criticize strangers, even strangers who send me really obnoxious sleazy marketing.
Besides, he has almost no web footprint. A google search yields almost nothing about him, and he’s barely present, hard to find, in social media. So he can’t know online marketing.
So all I have to show for this, with this post, is the underlying irony of it — horrible marketing selling marketing services — and some simple, obvious advice:
- Flattery might work; you do get my attention citing something you’ve read that I wrote; but stupid generic praise is insulting, not flattering.
- Don’t ever have a website that starts talking immediately. That’s rude and annoying. Have a click to start the talking.
- Large brightly-colored fonts and all caps look so last century. Avoid the look of 1980s direct mail.
- Big promises don’t work. They aren’t credible. Today is the age of transparency and authenticity.
- Don’t advertise your ignorance. If you sell copy editing don’t have typos. If you sell design, don’t be ugly. If you sell websites, don’t have 404 errors. If you sell food, don’t give away foul-tasting samples. If you sell business coaching, or online marketing, do it right or not at all.
- Oh, and if you don’t have a reasonably good web footprint, don’t try to sell online marketing expertise. You really have to show up well in standard searches, like Google, Yahoo, and Bing; and in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. It’s a brave new world, now, in that respect. You can’t fake an online past.