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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Learning marketing lessons from the scammers

As construction industry marketers, should we spend some time learning the scammers' tricks? This is a challenging question because, of course, great scammers are also brilliant marketers.

They are able to pull the wool over your eyes enough that you part with your money and beliefs for something that is only in their self-serving imagination.

Scammers, of course, distort the concept of trust -- they win your trust through trickery and psychological manipulation, and then destroy it. Scammers create fear in the marketplace. You distrust strangers, "too good to be true" marketing messages, and sales pitches. Trouble is, the best scammers are your "friends" -- or worse, convince your real friends that they are for real, so they become unwitting agents of the original scammer in pushing the fraudulent arrangements (Bernie Madoff.)

Notably, of course, (especially in the online world) scammers are willing to spend an inordinate amount on marketing. Some of the best online scams design "fake newspapers" and then hype the traffic to the phony publications with expensive keyword advertising, paying rates no one else would spend.

These high budgets cause the scammers' ads to appear as paid links at the top of real listings, and start people down the path of some very bad relationships. They especially prey on the vulnerable with "work at home" offers. (Does that say something about what a disturbingly large percentage of the community and market really wants -- yes, to "work" at home without really working, and make lots of money doing it. Dream on!)

In this environment we have the choice of copying the scammers' best techniques but with honourable objectives -- or we can learn enough from them to understand the power of psychological manipulation and control.

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