I Robot

June 14, 2007 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Misc. Rantings 

locutusofborg.jpgYesterday I read a blog post on the Copyblogger site that frankly disturbed me.

The post entitled “How to Improve Your Image by Not Delivering” represents a “racheting down” in how we view customers on the Internet. The central premise of the post is that it’s okay to delay a promise made to deliver a white paper to a customer when they sign up for a newsletter or blog because the marketer can add an extra email message indicating that the paper will be sent at a later time. The idea is that this approach ultimately increases mindshare with the customer.

I see this approach as somewhat exploitive and selfish. 

What the post is saying is that it’s okay to abuse a customers valuable time and increase the longing for the deliverable. This delay will make them want the white paper all the more, and build some greater asteem for the marketer. This viewpoint reduces a customer to that of an automatron, no longer human, but now a robot that can be exploited and manipulated to achieve some greater marketing advantage. While some may view this issue as “small potatoes”, it’s another example of why many people are turned off by the Internet.

Does everything Internet-related have to be overly scrutinized, dissected, and inspected to gain some minute advantage? Has the simple act of sending a promised deliverable to a customer if they sign up for a newsletter or blog have to be exploited to the fullest in order to gain some incremental exposure?

Is there a cost to such behavior? I think there is.

Many users on the Internet don’t always tell you what is on their minds, especially if it’s negative feedback. Instead, they vote with their wallets, participation, and subscriptions. The practice of not responding to an email message is a good example of this “passive-aggressive” style of behavior on the Internet.

The regular practice of this type of marketing activity will only result in leaving a bad impression in the consumers mind. Over time this can only serve to minimize whatever incremental gains may have been made by the additional email message and the delayed fulfillment.

Am I off my rocker here? How would you feel if you were expecting to receive a white paper once you signed up for an online newsletter or blog, only to be told it was coming at a later time and you had to wait for it?

Please let me know. If I don’t hear from you, then I will assume you find this marketing approach acceptable in our highly competitive Internet age.

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    3 Responses to “I Robot”
    1. Hey Jonathan;

      Glad to see I awoke the borg in you :)

      I don’t have issue with your premise here, but it’s not what I proposed.

      The central premise is this: Delaying gratification can create an anticipation that actually is a positive marketing tool for the person doing the marketing.

      1. I have found a great resource, read a few pages and decide I want the rest
      2. I am told if I fill out a form, it will be emailed to me
      3. I receive an email right away stating my request was received and is being processed
      4. Within 1 hour, I receive the paper.

      Explain to me what promise was broken?

    2. No promise has been broken. But you have taken the long trip around the horn to gain a marketing advantage on the customer that could have been otherwise delivered immediately.

      If someone is Internet savvy, then they know the document could have been delivered immediately along with the first confirmation. To say it is being “processed” is a stretch of the truth. Some may find this exploitive.

      While there may be some gains achieved by the addition email message, they are minute. While many may not notice, there is probably a subset of customers who will feel “used” as a result. Factoring this second group in, the overall gains achieved from such a plan are minimal.


    3. Great points. You made your argument well. – Mike

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