Weeds Perennials and Unwanted Growth

This is not a blog post about flowers.image

I am talking complaining about marketing. I’ve talked about some of these before (the perennials) but they haven’t gone away and the new crop that is filling in the already crowded garden of my inbox is dumb and getting dumber by the day. Here’s a short selection from the previous two weeks:

It’s been a while since we’ve talked” – Actually, we’ve never talked. I know that we’ve never talked and when you suggest that we have on the Subject line of your email, you are begging me to send it to the trash. Buh-bye.

Can I have 15 minutes of your time?” – No! Maybe, if I get a time machine and I can set it to the point where I was standing in line to see “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” you can have 5 minutes of my time. But I’ll be 10 years old and I’ll probably still want you stop talking after 2 minutes. Oh, and you have to buy the popcorn.

I was speaking with your boss…” – No, no you weren’t. This seems to be a perennial because I’ve written about it before, but sales people seem perfectly comfortable beginning a conversation with a lie. Maybe you did ask to speak to my boss. Maybe his secretary told you that I was the person you should ask for, but you weren’t “talking to my boss” the way you make it sound. It’s not like you and he are best buds and while sharing a few beers last week he said “oh, you know who you should talk to, you should talk to Dan…” I’m pretty sure that never happened.

“(our company) has been selected for the 2014 Best of (our town) for Insurance” – Oooh, lucky us. All I have to do is pay for the plaque and buy the book. I’m pretty sure that we’re the only insurance company in this town because we have been selected for this “prestigious award” every year since we moved here. I’m sorry that our lobby is missing the 10 or 12 “Best Insurance Company” plaques that should rightfully be hanging on the wall, but I don’t think we can afford this honor.

One of our special programs closes tomorrow” – Does it now? See, the fact of the matter is that I don’t believe any part of this. First, I don’t think your program is as special as you want me to believe. I think it’s the same program that you had last week and I think it’s the same one you will have next week. In fact, I think it’s just about the only program you have. Second, I think that if I called you next Tuesday and offered you the same price you are asking today, you would snap that up like bacon crumbles on French toast.

OK, if I don’t explain how this is a case of “fool me once shame on you…” imagemy editor will:

When my wife and I were dating, I was living in temporary housing. I had just signed a lease on a rental house, and I was planning to start building furniture as soon as I moved in. I spied a “3-Days Only” sale on a Sears Craftsman Radial Arm Saw in the Sunday paper. 3 days only! I asked her if I could buy this saw, pick it up in her car and store it in her apartment for a month. She agreed. I think that saw has been on sale ‘3-days only’ multiple times throughout the 31 years we’ve been married. Still, it was a great saw at a good price.

Get your complimentary VIP PASS here” – Huh? What makes me a VIP? Why would I want to go to an event in New York City to hear a man I’ve never heard of talk about 100 other people I’ve never heard of. Your email ends with “Cocktail attire required” – what does that mean? According to one website:

Cocktail attire is usually described as less formal than formal attire, but not too casual. Similar to but usually slightly less formal than semi-formal attire…cocktail attire can vary depending on the location and event; the most important element is that the outfit fits well and looks sharp.”

Well, I’m glad we cleared that up. I like that website and it does go on to offer some specifics, including the fact that “dark jeans can be acceptable.

I would like to follow-up regarding my previous email…” – Did you consider that I simply ignored your previous email? Since I have received both emails and phone calls referencing a previous email or phone call (it works both ways) that I ignored, let’s establish a few facts:

1 – I am not obligated to speak to you or read your email.

2 – Your asking me (a second time) to speak with you doesn’t alter fact number 1.

3 – My ignoring you is actually saving us both time because if I were even the least bit interested in your product, I would have responded to your first contact.

I am easily swayed by good marketing. I first bought things likeimage Bushes Baked Beans and Dijonnaise because I liked their commercials and I would buy anything Stanley Tools slaps a FatMax logo on. I do talk to sales people and I do respond to emails that seem genuine or interesting and where the marketing people have gone to the trouble to actually try to match me to a product that a reasonable person would think I/our company would find interesting. So, if I recognize your marketing as being bad, it’s really bad and you should make it stop.


  1. Pictures – Most people consider those weeds, but we like Dandelions around our house. Sears is still having 3-Day Only sales, and I have to admit, I still look at them. I know that there’ll be another one next week, but that shop vac might not be in it. At the bottom is a partial collection of the FatMax tools I own. I love saying “FatMax” but they really are quality tools. I would buy my wife a FatMax blender if they made one.


  2. (Disclaimer: I work in marketing) Bad marketing is bad because the organizations or the individuals behind it don’t make the effort to categorize their work as good or bad. Good marketing requires the ability to self-regulate, recognize failure and adapt. People behind any marketing message need to be good critical thinkers, capable of asking “Were any living human beings interested, excited or inspired by what we just said/did/wrote/posted/mailed/produced?” The answers to those questions can’t be based solely on intuition or hope; there needs to be data in the mix and some of that data needs to come directly from customers. In other words, marketing requires work. When I share what I do, people often respond with “ooh, that must be fun!” It is a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work (don’t get into this career if you want a 40-hr work week) and the hardest part of the job is having to continually prove the impact of your work. Understanding this pressure, it amazes me how many marketers put little to no effort into what they do, and keep doing it again and again hoping that it will someday work. P.S. I would buy a FatMax toothbrush.


    • I was going to add that “I know some good marketers” but then I would have had to describe what makes them good and I was already past my word limit. Thanks for adding this comment. The worst one that I received came after this was written. The guy actually send me an email with multiple email messages in it. It’s like he pushed two buttons and generated the two different kinds of text inside one email. How to make your customer feel way less than special.


  3. This 3-Day Sale Only triggers lots of impulsive purchases! I avoid sales people when I shop because I have a hard time to say no. Last year, I went to buy a pair of pants and the young saleswoman was so smooth and smart that she sold me much, much more than I intended to. I said that I would never come back again because she was too good. She didn’t believe me, but I never went back. Good salespeople work hard and I admire their talent. I wouldn’t be able to do it. Bad salespeople, on the other hand, are annoying.
    I’m also glad to read that, even for a born-American, dress code in this country is tricky. The excerpt you posted is hilarious. I made a few assumptions, based on the fact that California people looked very casual in their shorts and flip-flops, and I showed up at a holiday party in a short black dress and tight leather jacket while every woman wore a long gown and had spent the day at the hair salon. Everybody being American told me I looked great. Still.


    • I am an impulse buyer, and good sales or sales people are a serious weakness. I try to get smart before I go shopping, but it doesn’t always work.

      We had a AT&T rep come to our door selling UVerse last week. I decided to talk to him, but I was starting to get worried because he was very good. There’s no way I want to change cable and Internet providers but this guy was good. I escaped with a written offer and I won’t open the door if he returns.

      California, based on the few times I’ve been there, seems to go from 0 to 60 with women’s fashion very quickly. I was in San Francisco a few years ago at a tech conference and the invitation to the social said “black tie optional” – I almost didn’t go, but I was part of the program. I joined about 75% of the men and wore a dark suit. The women were all over the map. they all looked great, but I couldn’t imagine traveling with the stuff to make that happen.


  4. When we moved here, a woman from some alarm company called me with her sales pitch, and when she listed her price, I said it was too steep. She said one couldn’t put a price on safety. I replied that I live with a Marine and a watchdog, so my safety concerns are minimal. She hung up on me.
    Since late January, a computer man named Dave, from a different alarm company has been calling me almost every day, with those fake “Hi, this is Dave, how are you?” calls where it’s not a real person. Imagine my surprise when the actual person phoned! Sassy said, “It’s Dave.” I said, “It’s not a real person.” She said, “No, it is.” I took the phone and when I inquired as to whether he was real, he hesitated and said yes. “Oh that’s good,” I said, “Because some guy named Dave has been calling me every day about an alarm system…” and HE hung up.
    Seriously, I wonder how my current alarm company goes about their marketing. Glad I don’t need to know.


  5. I had a call some time ago. It went like this: Hi, I am John, I am calling from the UK and I don’t want to sell you anything. Well, his accent was an heavy Indian one and the voices in the background were certainly not speaking English. My comment: You have just lied three times – and put the phone down.


  6. Salespeople are mostly a nuisance. Their relentlessness. The fact that they think they must succeed with you no matter. And they don’t seem to recognize that sometimes you are just being polite. You don’t want to drive them away like demons. So they presume on your politeness and succeed to drive you insane. Once, in mid February this year, I answered a call from an insurance salesman, who had called me the previous week, and said, “Hey, how are you today, Mr. Salesman? I am with the Devil over here! And he’s glad as hell you are calling. We were just talking about you, and wondering when he should come for that nagging salesman soul of yours. He wants to talk to you himself! Hold on . . .”
    Well, he hung up so fast I laughed all day.


    • That’s really funny. I might have to use that. I’ll get calls from people asking about recruiting. I tell them we have no plans to hire anyone this year and they say “is it ok if I follow up in a couple of weeks?” Thanks for the comment Peter.


  7. LOL @ I am easily swayed by good marketing. – yeah – that’s me – Sucker much?

    I’ve recently been reading Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and it’s quite an eye opener. I’m developing personal power to resist the 4 cans of spaghetti for $4 and today I even resisted the 2 packs of Allens Snakes for $3… (My favorites)

    Whenever I check my webmail – usually yahoo or gmail, the most common self talked phrase is…

    ‘Deceptacon’ – All the dodgy critters trying to take up my precious time – without genuine engagement.

    To me the most powerful form of advertising is personal contact and communication (Not Phone cold calling) – Yes I love smart savvy graphics, but talking to people about products is always fun!

    Great post – you have more patience than I do – usually I wont even bother reading the marketing emails….


    • Allens Snakes? Is that some kind of gummy product? A friend in the UK got me hooked on Maynard’s Wine Gums when he visited us several years ago. For a while, my wife was buying them off of some import site. I was a total addict. It’s been years, but if you were holding a bag, I’d be your new best friend.

      I do resist a lot of marketing email. Although, there is one guy who sends out a newsletter that is so bad that I read it to see if he’s managed to make it worse. If he ever bottoms out, I might be able to stop. Thanks again.


      • LOL at being so bad you read it just to see if he could have made it any worse…

        Yes Allens Snakes are a Gummy product! #LoveLoveLoveThem! I’ll have to google those Wine Gums!


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