Why does internet marketing make me feel dirty?

I happened across some internet marketing sites today, specifically something called Product Launch Formula (linked by the otherwise esteemed Copyblogger), and something called the Butterfly Marketing Manuscript.

I feel dirty.

Check out this review of the Butterfly Marketing stuff. One technique is a page pretending to be something it isn’t. “The person landing at the page thinks they have bypassed the payment part of the membership site and have been given direct access to the members area.” Truly deceptive.

And the site that sells the product that the review is about his plenty of lies, including a claim that the introductory price of $97 is about to go up to $197 (the review is from 2006, so if he were going to raise it, he probably would have raised it by now).

And when you try to leave the page, an alert box shows up saying “Wait! A live agent would like to talk to you about last minute savings. Please hit ‘Cancel’ on the next window to remain on this page…”. That also seems to be a lie. It’s not about last minute savings. Everyone trying to close the page gets that alert, and probably have for years.

I’m all for being smart about how you market things, online or off. But there must be a way to do it that isn’t deceptive, that doesn’t leave people like me with a foul taste in my mouth.

It reminds me of how I was told that Tony Robbins upsells at the end of his live events. It’s the last day of a multiday event, with not enough sleep and hardly time to eat or drink, let alone think. At this moment, he asks you to think about all the things you hate about yourself and your life, and really visualize what will happen if you stay on this path for another 10, 20 or maybe 50 years, what’s the worst that can happen? Really paint the details. People start breaking down, there’s crying, sobbing, the children have long ago been escorted out of the room. And then Tony tells you that he has another live event that’s even more expensive, where he’s going to fix all of those problems for you, and you’ll get a huge discount if you only sign up today.

I hear it works. People pull out their credit cards en masse. But it sure as hell feels dishonest.

There must be another way.

Would Apple do it like this? Would Google? 37signals?

If the product is worth its price of admission, leave the price of admission alone, and let people chose to buy it when they find the time to be right. Sure, offer a discount every now and then to speed things up. But go easy on the emotional Hammond organ.

Any signs of a backlash yet?


Barry O

I read the review of Butterfly Marketing and I've actually used the Product Launch Formula. It is a good system and it made my client a lot of money and we did not lie to or deceive anyone. But, just like anything else it can be abused. And in the example you gave I think it is being abused. Remember Mike Filsaime did used to be a car sales man. You can take them off the lot but you can't take the car salesman out of them. ;)
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Lars Pind

And I do see a lot of legit stuff in there, but there's also a lot of things that feel shady. Personally, I prefer pricing and marketing that's more straight-forward and honest - one price, no artificial scarcity or urgency, try before you buy, etc..
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