DATA RAPE: The New Direct Marketing
Swimming With the Information Sewer RatsVol. 6, Issue No. 21 | November 2, 2010 By Denny Hatch
IN THE NEWSData ...
L.R. email to D.H.
Hello Mr. Hatch,
I loved your article on guarantees. I’m a firm believer in REAL lifetime guarantees. I’m trying to locate some data for a client on the percentage of consumers who actually exercise their right to these real lifetime guarantees. It stands to reason that the lifetime value of the customer more than justifies such a CRM strategy; however, it would be helpful if I could find some data that supports this fact. Would you be able to direct me to data on the cost-benefit of lifetime warranties.
Also, it would be helpful to be able to find real data on the assumed “abuse” of REAL lifetime guarantees.
Thank you in advance for your help.
Oct. 23, 2010
D.H. to L.R.
Why is everybody data-crazed these days—afraid to move or make a decision without data?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to your question.Cheapskates and premium bandits will screw you, no matter what your guarantee. Ladies and gentlemen will most likely forget about the guarantee.
If you have a crappy product that falls apart, you’ve got good reason to worry about your guarantee.
Otherwise, if you offer good stuff, good service and market to ladies and gentlemen, you should be OK.
"As political professionals, the more data we have, the happier we are," Indianapolis Republican consultant Kristen Luidhardt told The Wall Street Journal. "We'd love to know absolutely everything about you."
Au contraire, Kristen. When your communications are as intrusive as your data collection, you’re not only going to spook everybody and piss them off big time, but also trash your brand.
A case in point, Ms. Republican consultant, is the blizzard of robo-calls from floundering, desperate office-seekers—and their spouses and assorted pimps at all hours of the day and evening over the past three weeks—that have only crystallized my contempt for all politicians and all parties.
For the first time in 55 years, I may sit out today’s election. It doesn’t matter who wins any more. They’re all a bunch of four-flushers in my book.
A Personal Digression
Consumers love talking about themselves. Many years ago, I had a client that mailed out consumer surveys, which were happily filled out and returned by the zillions. All kinds of questions were asked: on toothpaste, leisure activities, travel, vehicle ownership, hobbies and interests, auto insurance, etc. Much of the information the responders revealed was highly confidential, especially in the area of health.
For example, one of the questions asked if anyone in the household had one or more of 26 ailments. Included in the list: arthritis, asthma, bedwetting, Crohn's disease, emphysema, heart attack or angina, Parkinson's disease, psoriasis, etc.
In addition to the list of ailments, individual health problems were given their own sections: diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and allergies, along with lists of medicines used.
Any of half a dozen arthritis drug manufacturers might sponsor one or more questions about Rheumatoid Arthritis and receive exclusive rights to responses, plus the name and address of the person who filled out the survey.
And because this was all voluntarily “self-reported” information, this is a license for the sponsoring pharmaceutical company to hustle its drugs by mail to targeted patients. In addition, the non-sponsored responses were up for grabs by marketers and the results found their way into vast databases made up of individual behavioral and demographic dossiers that are rocketed around the country dozens of times a day and rented by marketers.
I was a bit uncomfortable with this client. But he was dealing in data that consumers had volunteered. If Mrs. Pscuniack of Sioux City was dumb enough share the details of her behavior, lifestyle, habits and plumbing with a bunch of strangers running a computer, who was I to pass moral judgment?
Takeaways to Consider
- "As political professionals, the more data we have, the happier we are. We'd love to know absolutely everything about you." —Kristen Luidhardt, Republican consultant, Indianapolis
- When your communications are as intrusive as your data collection, you’re not only going to spook everybody and piss them off big time, but also trash your brand.
- “If the individual has supplied the information about himself/herself, it can no longer be considered personal.” —Herschell Gordon Lewis
- “You've got to dumb-down what you know.” —Ed McLean
- In other words, you may have a great deal of personal and intimate data about your prospect, but that knowledge must operate behind the copy. You cannot reel off in-your-face information to a person that you got from an outside source. It is eerie. It is creepy. It is disrespectful.
- “Let’s be realistic: It isn’t essential to know an individual’s real income and/or net worth. If someone subscribes to a financial publication, a photography magazine, a fashion magazine, a health publication, that positions the person as a prospect for certain types of related products.” —Rose Harper
- Direct marketing has morphed into a business fueled by an insatiable lust for data predicated on the concept that institutionalized peeping Tom-ism is not only legitimate, but also trumps everything we’ve learned over the past 800 years.
- The data rapists—the information sewer rats together with the spammers—are fouling the waters we all swim in.
- “Nothing succeeds like excess.” —Oscar Wilde
- To all the smartypants techie twits that never learned the discipline of direct marketing, know this: Data rape is not—and will never be—a viable alternative to testing.
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