Lies in Marketing

I’m really writing this for someone in my life that constantly complains about the amount of “junk mail” received (email or snail mail), yet when a favorite company has a “Daily Sweepstakes”, enters immediately. Every time it happens, I die a little inside. The exact thing that is being complained about is being fed by the contest entry.

It’s annoying. Lots of clutter. Lots of trash. Privacy. Most people really don’t know how their information is used and they trust companies.

Unfortunately, lots of big companies hire ad firms/agencies who are extremely cutthroat and are under immense pressure from the aforementioned big company that they’ll do just about anything to get more leads/sales. Including share the information between clients.

Show me the money!

It’s important to understand the “why” behind all of this. Always follow the money. Personal information has a quantifiable dollar value. The more detailed information, the more valuable.

For example, I have 1,000,000 email addresses.

50% of them don’t get delivered. Now I have 500,000 email addresses.
10% of those are opened. Now I have 50,000 email addresses.
10% of those click a link to a website. Now I have 5,000 email addresses.
5% of those make a purchase for varying dollar amounts. Now I have $50,000 revenue. Eventually that may be $15,000 profit.
Revenue per e-mail address: $0.05. (or $0.01 profit per email address)
There are fixed costs to send the campaign, but companies will find a break even point and also calculate target profit. (Hint: Variable cost per unit = email addresses. Fixed cost = A number you think to send an email campaign.)

This works across the board and sometimes it can scale (1,000,000 email addresses = PROFIT, therefore 2,000,000 email addresses = MOAR PROFITS!).

Now, think of a targeted mailing. Target mailings are where there specific groups of people being emailed. Think of people who have lots of disposable income (Ever wonder why your household income is asked when you register for some sites?) and live within 50 miles of a lake. It makes perfect financial sense for a wakeboard company to spend money targeting those kinds of consumers.

1,000,000 email addresses of consumers, but we know that they make >$100K a year, are male and live within 50 miles of a lake

With the same percentage returns from the earlier example, that $0.05 revenue per email address can go way up. So will the profit per email address.

Lies, damned lies, and marketing calls to action

Information Honeypots are just veiled lies to get your personal information. The best way to attract bees is with a honeypot. There is unlikely benefit to the consumer and much more likely benefit to the companies.

Calls to action are ways to entice consumers to take action. Most of them are direct, like “Buy now!”…but there are many that are flat out lies. Some create a false sense urgency because agencies know if you don’t act soon, the message will be forgotten.


  • Surveys (information honeypot)
  • Contests/Giveaways (information honeypot)
  • To view, you must register (information honeypot)
  • Text ____ to Vote NOW! see AT&T and American Idol (information honeypot)
  • Order in the next 15 minutes and get _____ for free! (call to action)
  • Mail in Rebates (call to action AND information honeypot)
  • ________ Show this weekend (Boat, Bridal) (multiple information honeypots + sales pitches)
  • Newsletters (information honeypot)

I know, I’ve ranted about marketers before, but what it really boils down to is dishonesty. That’s what ticks me off.


Anti Advertising Club

Late to the game on this one. This week I canceled my Time Warner cable, and now I just have their cable internet. Cable TV just isn’t worth the money anymore.

I just installed Adblock Plus to go along with Firefox.

Is there anything else I need to be aware of?