Deceptive Marketing

This marketing strategy is not new. It has been in practice for many years by many service providers as well as manufacturers. We have experienced faulty products, low quality products and some were totally scam. All in the name of cost and profit. It is understandable if the company that does this is from small, remote and cost conscious and new to business. But today’s argument is more focusing on big businesses thats using this dirty “marketing strategy” to attract big business from the mass market. Let me tell you my experience.

I received an email to participate in an online investment game. It is open to all and its free. Having experienced online investment and “uncanny” ability to read candlesticks and “analyze the market” i registered myself in. The game to commence in sept/nov 2010. This game also offered some cash prizes which is my the main attraction. Here is the twist.

Days later i received a call from that hosting company and thanked my registration. I thought wow they are cool and almost saying “nahh you dont have to call to thank me, email is enough.”, until i hear them promoting some investment accounts. The turn off point was when they say, “its free and has the lowest brokerage fee if you do any real transaction. If you dont open this account you cannot win the prize money.” how does that sound to you?

I quickly said thanks and hang up. I remember the company name and swear not to have any business with them. I will not play the investment game either because they might put a condition that once you win the money you can only invest with us. Did they realized that the intended strategy was shallow?

This problem of deceptive marketing is currently growing in financial services industry. As i am writing i just received a call from my credit card company saying they recognized “my loyalty” to them. Then they continued like this, “that’s why we want you to buy this and this and this..”. I just hanged up and surprisingly they dont call back! 🙂

The following are issues on perennial usage of deceptive marketing:

a) Customer turns off
When an offer is not really an offer it puts people off. The damage is more and greater if it happens to existing customers.

b) Collateral damage of your brand
Customers are talking to each other. We all know word-of-mouth and how angry customer words can travel but most of us push our luck hoping this damage doesn’t happen to our business. We reacted based on case basis. By the time we want to do something about it, damage has been done.

c) Wrong identity created
When the race is all about getting new customers we only focus on the quantity. Many businesses don’t really pay attention to what their prospect feels as the result of feeling deceptive. I wonder whether in the US the customer can take legal action on this ground. Too long in this mode the company will create an identity as “dishonest” and really bad for business.

d) Unsustainable business
As a result of the above the business is difficult to maintain and may be forced to closure. Customers are born every minute and every day. You dont want them to know that you are that bad since the day they were born, do you?

Look, middle income earners are going to drive the economy in many years to come. Access to education and technology around the world are the main proponents to this explosive growth of middle income earners. But businesses still treat many of them by dumping them with so many ugly products and services. It is never too late to change and build the correct foundation for your middle income customers and the next generation prospects.

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