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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sincerity and manipulation: The marketing game

This morning, I received an enthusiastic comment for one of my blog postings, describing how someone purportedly received great service from a Los Angeles area plumber. I couldn't track the commenter's source identity (quickly at least) and the comment had conveniently embedded a hyperlink to the competing plumber so enthusiastically promoted.

Would you be suspicious of this type of manipulation and "accept" the link? (I decided to publish it, but removed all the built in hyperlinks, and put qualifying comments around it.)

Now, instead, what would happen if the competing plumber or its representative had really addressed the issue of marketing techniques and methodologies in the relevant blog posting, and described the importance of testimonials, then linked to his own web page where readers could read a long list of fully visible testimonials (with identifying information of all the testimonial-givers.)

Would I have been happy to publish the link? Yes. Would I have even made an effort to get in touch with the competing plumber to write a full hyperlinked entry about the competitive business? Most likely.

Great marketing always must be rooted in sincerity. You need to say something relevant and useful to the person with whom you are communicating. Note I use the singular expression here, even though you may print and send thousands of flyers, or hope your blog entry is read by dozens of qualified readers. If the readers don't find relevance, they will throw the material away or (worse) disassociate from you entirely, perhaps even throwing their hands up in frustration or irritation (especially if you are intrusive, by using the phone, spam, or knocking on their doors.)

Obviously, then if you are speaking to the masses (or a bulk distribution within a given area) your message needs to catch the attention and acceptance of a certain percentage of the readers -- and not irritate others so much that you alienate them. But when you are using individualized media or communications models, you really need to look at the needs of the person you are communicating with and throw away the canned model.

Maybe some auto bloggers would publish that competing plumber's comment (you can find it if you really want, by looking within the comments on the original posting.) But it didn't work because the plumber's marketing representative was simply trying to manipulate the SEO and making unvalidated claims in the process. (In case you are wondering, Leonard Megliola at Bestline Plumbing in Gardenia got my attention by publishing useful and immediately relevant information, essentially giving away his operating manual without expectation of any compensation, on the forum.)

Are you sincere or are you just trying to manipulate the process? Sincerity, but really, "smart sincerity" wins all the time.

P.S. If you are a plumber, you will want to connect with the Plumbing Zone forum. But don't go near there if you aren't. I was blasted out of there within minutes when I joined briefly after discovering references to my blog there.


John Poole said...

I think forums are good marketing tool, but you're right, they really don't like folks soliciting. I got tossed from contractor talk just for posting my blog as a discussion. They're a little touchy in my opinion.

Construction Marketing Ideas said...

Like any community, the forums can be cold to newcomers, especially if they sense link baiting and the like (I am!).

The plumbers were quite right to boot me out -- I am not a plumber.

As for, early on, I violated TOS and received a slap on the wrist. Then I started being careful and checked with the forum owner before posting stuff that seemed sensitive.

He cleared the postings, giving me permission to drop his name if any of the voluntary moderators questioned my backlinks. Reason: He could see the volume of traffic I was sending his way through the blog.

Now, generally, I will post links back to the blog when I discover something especially interesting or relevant -- usually involving original research. No one minds.