I want to start off by acknowledging that marketing is manipulation. We engage it because we believe the product or service will help improve our life in some way. Marketers have to be on their toes and crank out new ways to get, and keep, our attention.
I know this is obvious, but please bear with me.
The user experience (UX) of the marketing journey can feel like a roller coaster ride. The marketer is like the machine operator. Users willingly get on the ride. At the end of the ride they want users to feel exhilarated for more, not make them puke.
Some desperate marketers revert to shame marketing instead of getting more creative.
You have probably seen it. That bullshit opt-out copy that reads: "No thanks, I don't want to invest in myself".
This demeaning copy can be found in email marketing, pop-up ads, website forms, etc..
It's like the copywriter lacks a critical understanding of courting process and just wants to pressure you into bed. They didn't stop to think of the relationship, or ask: "What if we actually courted them and make their journey worthwhile?"
I got curious about this not so new marketing tactic, so I researched the practice.
It's called, confirmshaming or manipulinks.
This wasn't on my radar so much as a brand consultant. In my opinion, this is taking pain points too far. If you are looking for compelling ways to get conversions (or keep people in your funnels) please think twice about the manipulinks and confirmshaming in your copy.
This might be especially relevant in service-based businesses. Prospective clients who are shopping (and they are all shopping) will NEVER want to engage with your brand if they feel your tactics are shaming them for not taking the next step.
For digital marketers, even if you do get the cheap win of a microconversion, you have done so explicitly with shame. Not just run-of-the-mill pain points, but outright insulting your prospects as they interact with your brand. All for a cheap button click. It's not worth it.
Digital marketing can be a 'shitshow', says one Tumblr blogger who compiles confirmingshaming screenshots.
Here is some copy from an email I received this morning which prompted this blog post.
This message was at the bottom of the email from a fasting app company. I was testing to see if their app was free or not.
The reality is, I am already on a wellness journey and I know I can get a similar app for free. It's fine that they charge for their app (even though they didn't educate me on why it's worth it), but don't put words in my mouth as to why I'm opting out.
An aside: if someone clicks unsubscribe to one of your emails, on the next screen, don't make one of the options, "I'm breaking up with you, no more communication." It's melodramatic, immature, and cringy. (I say this with love).
The last thing someone needs when trying to peacefully organize their inbox is for a business to inflate the meaning of an opt-in. Maybe they got their freebie and hate a cluttered inbox. (more to think about here in terms of email frequency).
Personally, I care about a lot of brands on social media that I do not want in my inbox--it just gets lost (and most emails are way too long). Unsubscribing does not mean I am done with you. What you can do, instead, is invite me to connect with you somewhere else!
Remember, people are shopping and your product or service may NOT be the best fit. It's okay! Send them on their way with your blessing, not copy that screams, "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!"
If you are a curious marketer, this article here provides helpful insights into dark patterns and shame marketing. Plus, how to avoid it.
Who knows, maybe one day your product or service will be what they need, or they plan to recommend you to a friend! But not if you make them puke.
I have to admit something: I've not been into marketing much these past few months. Instead, I've been working on fictional writing. I thought I wanted to focus on non-fiction, but fiction is so much more fun! (for me, at least).
So, I've been a slacker lately when it comes to deepening my knowledge on the craft of marketing . . . or have I?
In the past few months I have devoured hours of lectures on novel and screen writing. It's still digesting and I feel a bit gluttonous to be honest. But then again, my inbox tells me my new book, Understanding Show, Don't Tell: And Really Getting It arrives on Saturday--so I'm still at the smorgasbord apparently.
For some reason, I never noticed that marketing can follow a three-act structure as well. Sure, I knew marketing was a manipulative journey--one that we willingly go on to be dazzled, but what I discovered about story makes it all different now.
Breaking down your marketing into three acts:
1. Connect. Make your audience feel that you understand who they are. What makes them laugh, what makes them cry. Remember, connection isn't a strategy; you actually need to care.
2. Build excitement from your inspirational, informational, and entertaining content so that your new friend creates an internal goal that aligns with an identity they either have, or would like to have. It's not all pain, baby.
3. Help them actualize that goal while enjoying the process. Do this so well that they now see that a larger dream/goal--beyond their expectations--has been met while engaging with you and/or your content.
Voila, a friend for life. Whether they buy your product/service or not, they still could be one of your raving fans! And you get to be their raving fan!
It's easy to overthink marketing, but the basics are important. If you tend to feel overwhelmed about starting a new marketing plan you can always turn toward a marketing strategy.
A marketing strategy, as opposed to a plan, will give you an effective foundation and model from which to work, if done well enough.
A marketing strategy says:
"I'm planning a trip to Paris next Fall! I have an approximate budget and a couple friends in mind I could invite. We're going make a site seeing agenda when we arrive."
A marketing plan says:
"I plan to take a trip to the Louvre this year on October 13th with my cousin (who has a shellfish allergy). Then, we plan to arrive at the Mont Saint-Michel the following day right as the tides rise. After which, we will hop on a train to Naples for a pre-coordinated family reunion (sans shellfish). Oh, and we need to come in under budget."
If you've never been abroad, which trip sounds more relaxing, simpler, and fun?
Back to your marketing strategy. When you are ready to add more details on HOW you plan to achieve X, a marketing plan might be a good idea. But detailed plans are not necessary, especially at the start of building your brand.
If you need help deciding what needs to be in your brand or marketing strategy, I'd love to help.
I write because I dream of a world where people are flowing in perfect harmony with their creative objectives. No one is blocked. And no one is comparing themselves to the expert over there who has put in their 10, 000+ hours.