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Internet Marketing Obsession

Apr 25, 2008
For some entrepreneurs the idea of marketing can become something related to an obsession. It is possible to take what are meant to be tools of the marketing trade and reforge them into something grotesque and deceptive.

Many times this is most evident in things like email marketing and spam postings in forums. It can also take shape in keyword stuffing for perceived improvement in search engine rankings.

What can be a very positive marketing technique for many businesses can be made to resemble the presence of the proverbial 'snake oil salesman'. Consumers know something is wrong even if they can't always immediately identify what the problem might be.

This process is a bit like attempting to draw a caricature. You blow certain aspects out of proportion and the end result can seem a little cartoonish.

I suppose the one internal regulator for overdoing your marketing strategies would be the rudimentary idea of the Golden Rule. When you treat people the way you want to be treated it can change the way you do business.

Some may contend that adopting a customer first perspective is antithetical to capitalism, but I think it can actually enhance your bottom line long-term.

When you develop a business with the focus on what you can get from other people you will likely need to keep recruiting new people to feed your personal need for capital. However, when you focus your time and energy on defining and meeting the needs of customers you are likely to discover those customers come back. In essence you can concentrate on building relationships and less on finding people who have never heard of you before.

In an online environment there seems to be a strategy of finding a new name and developing a new site with new products when a business has exhausted the goodwill of people who recognize their business by sight and rejects the heavy handed and less than reputable mode of marketing.

The feeling is if they can represent themselves as something altogether new then old customers might come back oblivious to the ruse.

The problem with this mindset is that the business owner always has to try to be one step ahead of total disaster. Big promises may be made, but the truth is often less acceptable than the fictional account of customer satisfaction.

I think one of the most interesting marketing techniques I've encountered is when an existing, but less than reputable site develops secondary sites to help bring customers in. This isn't some strange affiliate revenue idea it is building sites that represent themselves as consumer research or medical sites. The content focuses on the primary products the business owner is selling and will rank the business as number one. This is supplemented by testimonials and expert analysis.

The problem is the consumer research site is biased because the consumer research site is owned and developed by the very business it ranked at number one. Essentially the business site becomes their own personal relations firm by creating sites that are designed to pat them on the back. Most of the time buyers are unaware of the link.

Many times I have run across a product and I want to know more about it. I do a quick online search and ultimately find a site that is endorsing the product and often reads like a press release for the company. This is typically a red flag for me and should be a caution for consumers as well. This concept remains a primary example of obsessive marketing practices.
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