Marketing is a seduction, not a battlefield

A friend of mine just received the following direct email pitch:

Re: Crush the Competition: Seize Their visitor who view their website by Dominating Their Audience Attention

Prepare yourself for total dominance. Our goal is to destroy your competition and establish your brand as the undisputed leader, not to be diplomatic.

Our ruthless [name redacted] campaign is the artillery you need. We’re snatching competitor website users or visitors and shoving your message down their throats with a relentless barrage of Display Ad bombs, surgical Programmatic Ad strikes, Facebook and Instagram blitzkriegs, YouTube carpet bombings, and a Pre-Roll and OTT [over the top] onslaught that’ll make their heads spin.

We create a systematic plan to outperform your competitors using our cutting-edge web technology patent.

Are you ready to crush, conquer, and claim your throne? I’m sure if you’re not ready, your competition is.

Schedule a demo with the link below.

How did that make you feel?

Direct . . . or offensive?

The subtitle of my book on writing is “Boost your career by saying what you mean.” And the author of this copy certainly said what they meant. This is a weapon for crushing competition.

I also have to give them credit for vivid language: shoving your message down their throats, relentless barrage, bombs, surgical strikes, blitzkriegs, carpet bombings, crush, and conquer. That certainly conjures a picture in your mind.

(Not really sensitive new age types, are they?)

The subject line is completely off, including the spurious “Re:” and the poor grammar — but is that just another clickbait tactic?

This is ultimately going to fail. Here’s why.

First of all, for every aggressive asshole cheering about these tactics, there are a hundred people who are upset with them. When my friend posted this on her Facebook page, the comments from her marketer friends looked like this:

Wow. I have no words.🤯😭 No wonder we have so many problems with how people treat each other. Where did honor and ethics go?

I am cutting sh*t like that out of my life. Darkness is not a good vibe.

So…do they want to help you get customers or help you fight customers to the death?

I guess some people have more Neanderthal genes than the rest of us.

I would never do business with a company like that. And I sure hope I would never get suckered in by a company that does do business with them.

That last comment is exactly on point. Maybe you don’t care if you offend people. But if you do, they’re likely to swear never to do business with you — and tell others as well. Awareness isn’t an asset if it’s awareness of your toxicity. This company is basically dividing the world into two groups: a tiny group of people who like these tactics, and a much larger group that is happy to tell others to avoid them.

And secondly, consider the actual tactics. The main problem for most email marketers is acquiring and retaining customers, not competition. That’s why marketing is a seduction, not a war. How effective is it, really, to abduct customers at gunpoint? Is it worth it to use deceptive tactics like “Re:” on emails that are not responses and shoving messages down the throats of people visiting your competitors?

In addition to being slimy, these tactics are also likely to rapidly become obsolete. How long will they even be possible with third-party cookies disappearing? And how many spam complaints will emails like this elicit?

Save the soldiering for your enemies

Take a look at your marketing. What is the “ick” factor? How many people will, not just fail to respond, but become actively disgusted with you?

Make love not war. That’s a far better long-term strategy for marketers.

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