Share a story about ‘gross marketing’ . . .

Sometimes marketing can be inspiring.

Other times it can leave us feeling really, really horrible.

And I want to invite you to share you stories of when it’s felt really awful.


Because I’m working on a book (working title: ‘Marketing for Hippies’) and sometimes the best way to help explain the difference between conscious and unconscious marketing is through stories.

In a few weeks, I’ll be inviting you to share stories of the most inspiring and uplifting marketing you’ve ever experienced – but let’s start here.

My story:

Speaking for myself, I can say that I’ve been on the receiving and giving end of this.

STORY #1: A bit about my sortid past – early in my career (like almost 20 years ago), I worked for a well known personal growth company. I would follow up with leads and try to sell them into the seminars. I was taught to put myself into a peak state and be absolutely certain that our programs could help them.

I was never told to use high-pressure tactics – but if you come from the place of absolute certainty ‘what i’m offering can help everyone’ and your objective is to get them to ‘say yes’ – well, that’s where pressure comes from. I hadn’t figured out that getting them to say ‘yes’ wasn’t the real goal in a conversation like that.

I remember one call, blindly trying to ‘close’ someone. I kept asking for some info from him (perhaps his credit card number? I can’t recall) and when he’d say ‘no’ I would just change the topic and then ask for it again, directly, in a few minutes. In the end, he was laughing at the absurdity of it. He couldn’t believe that I couldn’t accept him saying ‘no’.

It was ridiculous.

It was pushy and gross.

LESSON: Graciousness. The importance of really being okay with ‘no’ and being able to let go and bless and release when it isn’t a fit, or isn’t working vs. holding on and pushing harder.

STORY #2: Another time, I was speaking with someone and trying to convince him that our new three hour program would absolutely change his life. We must have spent 45 minutes on the phone. He’d attended the same event a year or so previous and it hadn’t lived up to the hype on it. I was basically inviting him back to the same event. But we’d renamed it and changed it mildly. He ended up coming – of course it didn’t change his life and he was disappointed and I felt so empty and terrible for my lack of integrity.

Because I hadn’t really believed it would for sure change his life. In fact, I figured he was probably right – but it meant money for me and it also meant that I’d get the approval of my bosses for convincing someone to come and ‘getting past their objections’.

I didn’t sleep well in those days.

LESSON: Integrity. I didn’t really believe in what I was selling. And when I am selling something I don’t believe in I might temporarily meet my need for security (via money) but I sell out my integrity. And that not only feels painful for me but makes me a terrible guide for others. When I stay in my integrity I can genuinely become a trusted advisor – because I’m really being trustworthy.

STORY #3: I go to a smoothie shop and ask them if they can put the smoothie into my Nalgene container. They say they can’t due to hygiene reasons. But, they offer, I could buy one of their reusable mugs.

I tell them this makes no sense and is obviously a blatant upsell.

She’s very apologetic and I assure her I’m not personally upset with her but that I think the policy is ridiculous. It made me feel like I was being lied to right to my face and given a bullshit rationale for them wanting to sell their mugs. It was done under the guise of ‘it’s better for the environment’ but that really wasn’t their primary concern. They didn’t actually care about the cleanliness of the mug – they cared about making money – and they weren’t honest about that.

I clearly didn’t need a mug – but they tried to sell it to me anyway. I wrote the company and they ended up stopping that policy. I’m sure many others wrote in too.

LESSON: Be honest about your motivations. People know you have selfish motives. You need to get your needs met. And that’s okay. But don’t ever lie about why you’re making an offer – or why you have a certain policy. If she’d said, “You know what – we don’t pour our drinks into other people’s reusable containers because we’ve got our own we’re trying to sell.” I would have been appalled and thought it was a stupid policy and not in alignment with their values – but I wouldn’t have felt lied to. I might even have respected the forthrightness of it at a certain level.


So, those are some examples of stories from me: I’d love to hear your stories.

It can be a story of something you did that felt out of integrity and what happened – or it could be something you experienced. It might have been super gross – or maybe just felt a little ‘off’.

Criteria for the stories:

1) let’s keep names out of it – we’re not here to bash anyone.

2) details! the more details the better – help us understand exactly what it was that had it feel so ‘off’ for you.

3) please make sure you share how it felt for you. what was your experience in the moment.

4) what lesson did you take from it about ‘conscious marketing’?

Please leave your stories below in the comments . . .


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About Tad

  • STORY: My friend bought a high-end program on my reco through a particular affiliate who was offering a “FREE” bonus.

    The bottom line was that the bonus wasn’t really FREE … AND it wasn’t even delivered as promised!


  • Jodie

    check this spence diamonds add out. it’s a major fail.

  • hey david,

    that is gross. how do you mean the bonus wasn’t free? what happened? and in what way wasn’t it delivered as promised?

    – t

  • hey jodie – thanks for the share – can you tell me why this ad feels gross to you? I know why it does for me – but I’d love to hear your take on it . . .

  • Great topics you raise. I am the person who wrote who lives where “Old Hippies don’t die, they move to Eugene.” :-)

    Anyway, a couple of stories.

    I worked someplace several years ago and I was pretty new to the business. I was not hired for sales but it was a small company and we all helped out. I was great at talking to people so I was asked to do cold calling. I did not know the products very well and I felt that I was supposed to convince them to purchase something when I did not even really understand why they might need it. Fortunately they did not have me continue to do this. I would get off the phone and feel like such an idiot and I felt really yukky and I even cried a few times with the whole humiliation.

    I ended up getting into human resources as my career and as you can imagine my passion ended up being recruitment and retention. Hire hard, manage easy. I LOVE writing interview questions to find the right person for the right job! One of my passions!

    I have been sitting in on a lot of teleconferences this year for research and to see what I can learn out there. There have been several who call themselves spiritual and they are sending out lots of pre call emails about how excited they are and oh my gosh….something new…..something life changing……Well what it really turned out to be was something I had to purchase. I am seeing a lot of these monthly fee clubs-support groups-whatever they call them. Promising a lot. I did join one earlier this year and not much content was offered after being promised and I was not getting personal response like I had been promised. Also, I did see others get a response, so ??

    one more: I am many lists to get information, newsletters, etc. There is one woman who is nationally known, at least in some circles, who is selling selling selling every week and it seems very clear that she is an affiliate for them. TOO MUCH SELLING and not enough knowledge sharing.

    I also really don’t like too much over introducing of themselves. I did this, I did that, I am so cool, etc. Wow, big turn off. I know it comes from lack of self love self confidence.

    I have been taking myself off a lot of lists lately.

    Anyway, hope this is helpful.

    I am just starting out in my businesses (Inner Life Coach, HR Warrior). So, wanting to learn all I can. AND stay in integrity. I can happily say that I have been fired for staying in my integrity. :-)

    blessings for the work you do, Elizabeth in Oregon

  • Selena Flood

    I’ve been plagued by those Spence ads at bus shelters all over Toronto. They drive me nuts.

    This topic reminds me of a job I had for a whole three hours, a few years ago. It was for a call centre that had two departments…a leads department and a sales department. I was hired for the leads.

    When I got there for orientation, I was told that my job was to call people and ask them to complete a survey on magazine reading habits, for a chance to win a big screen TV. We were told to express to people that we were not going to try and sell them anything in an effort to have them complete the survey.

    Then when the surveys were completed, they would go to the sales department where they would design offers targeted to the persons interests, and call them back with a verification number for the draw, and a sales effort to get them to buy a magazine subscription. I was really disgusted when they started bragging about how one of their sales team members was able to sell a subscription to a blind person.

    When I confronted them on the fact that they were asking us to lie to the people we were calling (assuring them we weren’t going to sell them anything, when in fact, the information was going to be used to try and sell them something) I was told that we were just to pretend that we didn’t know what happening the sales department. This felt so gross to me that I didn’t even make it to the calls floor. I walked out before the orientation ended and that’s the closest I’ve ever come to working in a call centre.

    Looking back on this now, I wonder if experiences like this are what has me hooked on “conscious marketing” – knowing that the traditional ways of doing things are pretty corrupted and really wanting to see a shift in business practices to support integrity and honesty instead of scheming, lies and high pressure tactics.

  • Kim

    Tad, you really have too many interesting blog articles :) I get distracted from my work! ;) Thanks for your stories and honesty. You certainly sound like you learned from those experiences.

    Here’s some marketing things that don’t do it for me:

    1. Multilevel marketing – Everyone has these stories I’m sure. When I was in university, a friend called and asked if I wanted to meet for tea. I hadn’t seen her for a while, so thought it was great. When we met she proceeded to do her spiel. I never ever buy anything from those things, as it makes me feel like I would be supporting a business that operates like this. I feel they hype potential sellers up so they are in some kind of ecstacy, and pretty much only the people who are born-hard-sellers make any money. The products may be fine, but you don’t get grounded, genuine information out of someone who is in an emotional, and um….”stimulated” state… like usually this is.

    2. The long sales letters (scrolling, scrolling) on the internet – I personally am a bit turned off by them. I know people like them, and if that works for them, great. But I like visual, pretty things along with text. I also don’t often believe their testimonials or that alot of their pitch is truthful. Also, video is more effective for me, if they want to say that much.

    3. Money-back guarantees – I’ll give an example. My first kind of work was plant-related. So when you go to many garden centres now, they have a policy where if it doesn’t survive, you can bring it back for a refund or exchange the next year. I feel this is so disrespectful to the plants. It’s rewarding those who don’t water or take care of their plants. It’s giving the idea that a life is exchangeable. And it also gives the big box stores a convenient shiny thing to distract from the awful conditions and care they give the plants. (Okay, done my rant!)

    How’s that?

  • I’m glad you ask this question.

    The most outstanding experience I’ve had with gross marketing was a couple of years ago when I was working on a new business.

    I had been through a rough time during the Spring with my father nearly passing away. I just wasn’t myself and this company (that works with Children’s computer franchise) was talking to me and I was working on my business plan.

    Then my father got sick and when I came back from the hospital stay with him.

    Several days later, I got a call from them (I had e-mailed them to tell them I’d be out of town for a short period due to my father’s illness) and they said we are getting calls from your area and just wanted you to be aware of the fact that we’ve had 4 calls this month. I just wasn’t thinking clearly and not up to my usual business self and I said “ok well keep me posted I’m working on it.” I get another call few days later saying they had someone really interested… so I got scared and (that was their purpose in calling me) said “well, what is the way to hold it off until I get my business plan done etc.”

    So I put down money… about a week later when my father was doing better and out of the critical condition, I realized I had just been baited and hooked.

    I felt awful!

    I didn’t understand from a company that promoted themselves as having integrity and having children’s best interest etc. They sounded so sincere. Well since I’d put the money down and it wasn’t refundable, I was very interested in the business, I decided to move forward. The night before my departure for the trip (the required workshop), I was sent a package of info on the workshop, and there it was, their marketing techniques for the workshop.

    My heart sunk and I felt sick… I wanted to cancel the trip but he flights were non refundable and the hotels and the money already paid down on the franchise.. I e-mailed her to tell her I had an issue with the marketing techniques and though I love their philosophy with the children – I just had issues with how they do marketing- I knew at that point my gut feeling was correct earlier in the year.

    They had a plan to tell people that they only had one spot left and to tell people they must hurry to sign up b/c they were almost filled up and that they had already been getting calls etc. Same thing they pulled on me. So, I went to the workshop, and listed even though in my heart I just couldn’t do that to people.

    I wasn’t well received either – I’m guessing b/c I was honest and told them I had an issue with their marketing techniques. She had a masters in Marketing so it was an insult I guess. Some of the ways they got info out of you a the breakfast they invited me to – I felt like I was in interrogation. I came back home finished my business plan and submitted it to the banks… Just in time for the 2008 crash and at at that point it was too hard to get a biz loan.

    I contacted them to inquire about having a partner to join in with me for the biz and ask them to contact all those people that called them from back in the spring to see if they wanted to partner with me and do you know months and months went by and they kept on me about opening the business and I kept asking about the names – they never even replied to my requests never even acknowledged that they had said that to me….

    At that point I decided that I lost a lot of money, and was ripped off but I couldn’t get involved with a franchise that was that dishonest. I felt marketing with integrity was far more important to me than the money I lost. Just felt slimy!

  • Hi Tad:

    This is a good question.

    To your last question…I let ‘er rip
    with an answer….but there’s so much
    more to what “conscious” marketing is
    supposed to be.

    As to feeling gross.

    I sold soda pop machines to suburban
    home owners years ago. We would put
    hangers on their doorknobs promising
    free pop…and then we would go out
    to their home and make their pop
    and try to sell them a machine.

    Not exactly noble work, but not in
    and of itself evil.

    At first I couldn’t sell one to save
    my soul. I would articulate the advantages
    well…and make the case mathematically
    that if they drink X bottles weekly, this
    baby will be saving them money by DATE.

    Then I met a guy who would sell three in
    a row. And it astounded me. I realized that
    there was probably a way to see virtually
    everyone who inquired.

    Then I really got determined. I started
    selling one or two a night…out of three
    calls…and I think I did go three for
    three on one occasion.

    Then I visited an elderly man. He listened
    to the whole pitch and got excited. He
    started to fill out the paperwork. Yes,
    we FINANCED these babies. And as he signed
    it, he told me that he had a huge store
    of Coke in the basement in cases of 24

    I felt sick…but I just couldn’t stop
    my forward momentum…so I took his sale
    and went out in the street…and felt
    hot revulsion and shame.

    So…many years went by…and last year
    I wrote a sales manual for a selling organization.
    The first sentence was…”Selling is a noble
    profession”, which it is or certainly can be.

    But on my way to knowing that, there were a
    couple of lows…none lower than when
    I sold the old man the soda pop machine
    he didn’t need just because I could….

    Having said that “conscious” marketing
    is bullshit, some of the other people made
    the case very ably that connecting with
    people, having their best interests at
    heart (as opposed to at mind!)is key.

    Not pushing. Being authentic. None of this
    is new. There have always been decent
    people. The one distinction that I think
    is important is that if you are detached
    from the outcome, you can bond deeply
    with people, but then you have to act
    responsibly…not like I did with the
    old gent.

    And…and this is the part the hippies
    have trouble with…some people need
    to be sold. They really want something
    and can’t get over themselves. Sometimes
    the noble thing to do is to SELL something
    to someone who really wants it who would
    not buy it if someone did not step up
    to the plate and INFLUENCE them.

    That’s leadership. That takes some
    courage and honesty…rather than
    always hiding behind the mask of alleged
    integrity, but influencing nobody.

    That feels gross too…when you blow a
    sale and the person who really wants
    and needs “it” leaves feeling shitty too.

  • Any kind of cold calling, all the way back to Girl Guide cookies and selling magazines for school. I was not only terrified of doing this, it was my first experience with political outrage… how dare the school/Girl Guides force its students/participants to sell stuff and be in competition with one another to sell the most stuff. I remember being about 9 years old and thinking “The value of the service this organization is providing to me is way out of balance with the emphasis they are placing on my selling products on their behalf.”

    I guess in hindsight it was probably a useful skill, but I have always resented ever being forced to take advantage of relationships in order to sell people something that they didn’t necessarily want until I told them how much their life sucked without it. Scaring people in order to get their money from them :(

    This rubbed off in different ways, too. Anytime someone comes to my door who’s friendly and treats me like a real friend and has anything even halfway useful to sell, I’ll probably buy it. This works even with religious visitors.

    But anyone who calls, writes, or drops by and just has a smarmy spiel for me… automatic “No” no matter how amazing the product or service might be.

    I realize that this revulsion might get in the way of successful marketing, but I would seriously rather take the financial loss. If success means trying to push something on someone who had plenty of opportunity to come to me on their own, I’d rather not be successful.

  • Jackie

    The folks who tell you you’ve won a free holiday. You call their toll-free number, and they hype it for up to several hours, trying to convince you to spend $1600 on their “free” holiday. Made me so mad.

  • Jackie

    Fundraisers who are selling unhealthy or downright toxic goods, who won’t just take the donation with a note for their suggestion box because they have to show product has been exchanged for cash. Ick.

  • I had a nice lesson in graciousness too.

    This is sort of embarrassing, but enough years have past that I am ok sharing it, though I am not going to name, names.

    In my early 20’s I took a personal growth workshop with an organization that offers programs around the world. I found the information to be amazing and learned so much in one weekend to improve my life and relationships, that I thought “how amazing if more of the world did this and knew this.” Well that’s exactly what the marketing for this company was. They relied on graduates to go out and bring in guests to feed the next workshops. Share yourself and they will come. The only thing is that it soon became pretty icky. The few friends and family that gained similar value to me by enrolling, were far out numbered to the ones who thought I had joined a cult, would no sooner go to the course than pigs will fly, and if the topic came up they would shut down completely.

    The rub is I was coming from a place of sincere “this is so great, you’ll love it.” I did not earn any commissions. But in hindsight, what I see is how attached I was, to being right about my experience of it. (And I believe the way the company set this up, it was fairly manipulative of its graduates – more ick.)

    So…what this brings up for me, is that ick does not have to be “b/c you want money out of it” or “b/c you are selling something you don’t really believe in” Neither was true in this case. But I was definitely attached to each conversation going a certain way.

    As soon as your think you have the key to life, most likely that’s when you don’t…

  • HEATHER – I love that distinction. That it’s not only about ‘commissions’ but about having an agenda that people do something. Totally. I wrote a blog post a while ago about the real goal in sales being about getting to the truth, not in getting to the sale. You can read it here.

  • JACKIE – totally! This keeps coming up as a distinction for me – that you can’t separate the consciousness in marketing from the actual product or service. You know? Alignment of values is so important – not just HOW it’s being sold, but WHAT we’re selling. It is so ironic to see non-profits working with for uplifting a community raise money with things that will hurt their community and others. And – yes – the deceptive free holiday thing. Gross.

  • LISHUI – I hear you about cold calls. Though – for me cold calls can actually be really beautiful and human if you do them right. Ari Galper lays this out beautifully – you can read more about it here. And Robert Cialdini outlines brilliantly why we are often so susceptible to sales gimmicks in his book “Influence: The Psyschology of Persuasion” – Your comments lift up for me how often it can feel like a choice of ‘do i sell?’ or ‘do I have integrity?’. You know?

  • TOM – I love that you shared that story about yourself. Thank you for being so open. I so relate to that. It’s interesting – I’m not into pushing people generally – but I remember a few times when the trust was so deep that I just looked at them and said, ‘Stop being a dumb ass and buy this thing.’ and they did. And it felt super good and uplifting. And it felt really real and authentic. What I notice is how easy it is for people to not even ASK – to not even OFFER – out of the fear of offending. They don’t even CHECK IN to see if they could help. They don’t even EXPLORE it. And that can – ironically – feel even more awkward. It’s such a wake up call to realize that being authentic can also mean having an opinion and making a case for it – without an agenda or neediness.

  • KIM – I love it. Yes – so many terrible stories from MLM. So many lives really destroyed by companies that brainwash their people into evangelists and clones. Gross.

  • SELENA – Ugh! that’s so terrible. wow. it’s so disheartening to even hear about that kind of approach.

  • Jenn

    My boyfriend and I were leasing a brand new car together for the first time. I’ll keep names out of it. We went our final day to sign all the papers. My boyfriend started looking at one of their higher scale cars. He turned to our salesman and said ‘maybe I’ll be back next year for this one’. Our salesman replied ‘yeah, we’ll see.’

    Also as we were finishing up the paperwork we had to wait for the manager of the dealership to return to sign the paperwork. He felt it was more important to go for a drive with his friend who had won a Lamborghini. This almost made me late for work.

    We left feeling like our business wasn’t appreciated and only those that are buying the best car get good customer service.
    I hated being made to feel poor.

  • JENN – Wow. That’s gross. I think you’d love to hear about . . .

    The Samarya Center:

    and . . .

    A Gift Economy Doctor in Oakland:

  • Tad – I suppose this is the whole point of what you do, but do you have articles on, e.g. “How to make cold-calls and not be smarmy”. I would think there are conscious ways of doing stereotypically yucky marketing methods?

    Here’s a few more obvious gross ones, and as I thought more, they seem so strange in their motivations:

    FAX ADS – waste of paper. And why are they always for vacation packages? I suppose they think you’ll be looking through all your work faxes, and see this and dream of sunny places?

    EMAIL SPAM – why does it always seem geared to men? An email inbox is a very private thing, and because you’re reading, it’s like they reach a secret place (your mind, your inner self). I doubt alot of men think, “You know, I’ve been thinking alot about my penis lately. And wow! This ad for viagra, or russian brides, or enlargements…aren’t I lucky it came right to my inbox?”

    PHONE SOLICITATIONS – why is it always charities? I think over the phone they can guilt people more. I don’t like that they don’t let you speak.

    DOOR TO DOOR SALES – guilt thing again, and I think it’s invasive that they are reaching people in their sanctuary/home.(and unsafe nowadays). Several years ago I went to my grandparents for the weekend. I get there and my grandma says that a woman is coming over to give her a free gift. I thought, that doesn’t add up. Well, it was a woman selling vacuum cleaners. She stayed for about 3 hours, and then after all of that, it cost something like $900. I felt terrible for the woman, as she was perfectly nice. But it was an invasion of time, and praying on the elderly. No sale was made.

  • Laura Botsford

    Kim’s 4 categories hit most of my gross marketing complaints. Phone solicitations are not *always* charities, but, as far as I am concerned, they are always unwelcome. Add to that, the pre-recorded solicitations…. A national furniture company took that on as a marketing ploy. I don’t know if they got enough complaints that they stopped entirely, or I finally convinced them to take our number off their list. Bad enough that every single week there is another flyer from them, advertising another sale of things that I either have or don’t need or want.

    Thinking about flyers in general, I realize that I mind the ones from grocery stores less, because food is a constant need, and changes with the season. Furniture should be something bought once or maybe twice in a lifetime. Period. And there is no reason why it can’t be built and bought locally, either.

    Which, I guess, adds another element to gross marketing for me. I really resent being peddled things that are out-sourced to a third-world country (even though it is hard to avoid), particularly when it means that any problems will be unresolvable. That same furniture company sold me something for my parents that (a) was not delivered for months because it was out of stock — something *not* divulged by the salesman, who ostensibly checked for availability when he sold it; (b) was not delivered on two different promised delivery dates, but with no warning — it just never appeared. When I phoned to inquire, no one seemed to know anything; (c) when it did arrive, did not function properly. The repairman told us that since it was made in China, there was no way to fix it.

    So, the ability to support the product(s) being sold is key. As a counter case, my parents bought a digital piano, a model that came with a piano seat. The store had two or three outlets, and the piano we wanted was at a different store. When we went to pick it up, there was no mention on the box of a piano seat being included, so the salesman gave us simple stool, just in case. That is support, and that is a place I would buy from again. When we were choosing the piano, there was no attempt to upsell us to a flashier, more expensive, model, which my mother would never have touched — way too intimidating.

    I have heard it said that the best marketing is word of mouth, and there is some truth in that.

  • Darlene

    Wow Tad – thanks for asking – this is perfect timing for me, because my gross marketing story happened this morning…

    It dawned on me after reading your question yesterday that my life long aversion has been on manipulative SALES techniques, not necessarily the MARKETING of the product. But I woke up this morning wishing I could reach people just by just laying out facts without having to tug on their emotions first.

    Here’s the background: We are currently working on a great opportunity for our members that we REALLY believe will help them out with their business, and will enable them to reach A LOT more people. It won’t cost them a cent out of pocket, it’s a proven technique, and we’re gonna hold their hand. It will just be a little scary for them to make a time commitment and to think outside of the box. We really believe it’s a win/win/win.

    Who wouldn’t want to Market that?

    But yesterday, a trusted adviser told us that the document we prepared describing the project would be more effective if it was written outlining the benefits instead. So, I took our linear, fact-based document, and transformed it into a benefits-focused document instead. This should be okay, the offer is the same, we are still acting in integrity, it’s still a great opportunity, but this morning I woke up feeling MANIPULATIVE and DIRTY.

    I feel like I’m using sneaky techniques to have them feel things in order to get them to do what I want – which is kinda what marketing is, isn’t it?

    Here’s where I’m sitting with this right now: My general philosophy in life is to be ever present to the path that I am on, and to keep my eyes open for the way I want to proceed. I fully respect that everyone is on their own path, but if I think there is another path for them to consider, I want to shine my light on it, letting them see the possibility, so they can choose to go there if they decide it’s right for them.

    Marketing is the shining of the light. And good marketing, when you use the techniques like outlining benefits, it just using a brighter light.

  • So happy you asked. I am a self-published author of two books, the first of which has been selling on Amazon (four stars) since 2004. To my horror, I recently discovered that Amazon were publishing my book on Kindle without my permission, a conversation or an e-mail. They told me that the PRINTER of the first edition had “MADE MY BOOK AVAILABLE FOR SALE ON AMAZON! Earlier this year, someone from this printing company had the nerve to call me and try and sell me a $10,000 publicity campaign to promote My BOOK which unbeknownst to me they have stolen, hijacked. I suspect they are also selling my second book and taking the royalties. Now is that sleeeeeeeeeeeeeezy, or is that sleezy. They picked the wrong writer to mess with. Even before this happened, I had a very uneasy feeling about them (I am psychic after all). Very, very bad karma. Beware all writers.

  • DARLENE – I love your integrity. Here’s what I’m hearing in your case. The piece you’ve written is ‘technically’ good, but it’s feeling to you like it’s lacking heart and warmth. Is that true?

  • Darlene

    Not exactly. I first wrote the document in the way that I think. I’m pretty linear and think in factual bullet points. But, it was pointed out to me, that I would reach more people if I reworded the same document to highlight the reader’s benefits. So, same basic stuff, just “spun” in a different direction. And that’s what I didn’t like – I didn’t like having to “spin” it, ’cause that felt manipulative. I would have preferred presenting it as is, but I have to admit, it now feels like a more powerful piece.

    So, after thinking more about it, here’s my take:

    1. Rewriting things to make a clearer point is not manipulation. It’s simply to make it clearer, and make their decision easier to make.

    2. I’m not going to shy away from these yucky marketing feelings I have. Instead, I’m gonna embrace them, because they are my barometer to measure if I am staying in integrity or not. If, after examining them, I can truly say that my marketing material is from a place of service, then I’m good to go…

  • When my mom died, we had donations made in lieu of flowers to a charity. Months after her death, I answered the phone and the person asked if my mom was there, “No, she couldn’t come to the phone, could I take a message?” The standard response to which she explained that she was from the charity and that my mom had made a donation and they were wondering if she would like to donate again. I laughed at the audacity of the request and told her she had died and will not be having another funeral. She was very embarrassed and they never called again. I hope that they made changes to their donation tracking to avoid another situation like that.

    Also, I get birthday cards from businesses and although some people might think it is nice, I view it as a waste of time and paper. One business offers me a free piece of cake if I come in and that is nice. The other ones just send a business card; it feels like an uninspired marketing moment and with a bit more cleverness, they could do something that makes me want to buy from them again or pass their card on to someone.

  • A couple of years ago, my husband and I went away for a romantic weekend at a popular resort here in the Maritimes, just wanting to get away from it all for a few days. We rented a cabin on the ocean and were looking forward to the serenity.

    Upon checking in, the clerk informed us that they were offering complimentary 3 course dinners for two in their formal dining room and all we had to do was agree to attend a 2 hour tour of their time share accommodations. Now I knew what the deal was, but I like to consider myself a pretty smart cookie and can resist the icky tactics long enough to see what they had to offer. The truth was that we had considered investing in something like that anyway, so we saw this as a good opportunity.

    We were taken on the private guided tour of their beautiful properties and facilities with a very charming guide (salesman) and of course, ended up in the boardroom to look over the incredible opportunities available to us. He showcased all kinds of packages in his thick binder and we seriously considered all the options he showed us, each very costly, and had begun to zero in on one of his strong suggestions even though it was well out of our price range, which I had been upfront about.

    Then as he searched through the binder for a particular deal I wouldn’t want to miss, I just barely noticed some pages in the ‘available time share slots’ section that he had neglected to reveal. I tried to ignore them as he had seemed very upfront and honest until then, but I couldn’t stop wondering. My curiosity got the better of me and I asked him if there were any other more affordable time shares that we hadn’t seen and he assured me that there were not, and that they were all taken. I pressed him a few more times and he strategically dodged my enquiries, opting instead to give my obliging husband his full attention.

    So then I specifically asked what the other pages were, the ones that he hadn’t shown us, and he said that there weren’t any pages we hadn’t seen – now growing very agitated by my insistence, and again showed me the only ones available according to him, reiterating how fabulous they were and all the benefits we would gain in having spent those few extra dollars. You didn’t have to be the savviest individual to see that this guy was lying, but what shocked me was that he kept up the ruse as though he could still get us to buy! I actually began to pity him after that because he clearly had no idea who he was dealing with.

    In an effort to get his guard down, I shut up about the other pages and listened intently as he went on and on about the killer offers he had for us and the deals we might be able to get if we did this or that. Once I was sure he was comfortable about the sale again, I asked if I could see the pictures of the facilities and he enthusiastically turned the binder over to me. Of course I perused directly to the pages he had hidden and saw that there were many, MANY time slots available in much more affordable accommodations than he had shown us, and I immediately brought them to his attention asking why we weren’t made aware of them.

    He looked downright angry when he saw that I had gone there and snatched the book from out of my hands, and when I pressed him again he simply dismissed the time slots saying, ‘I didn’t show you these because the use of common facilities is not included in the price, etc, etc.” Well you can imagine my response. The salesman actually got angry with me and exclaimed how offended he was that I would question his integrity! I thought, ‘was this guy for real?!’

    And that’s when my husband stepped in. It actually almost came to blows right there in the boardroom of the resort. I had to drag my husband away before he did something he would regret and we did our best to enjoy what was left of the already paid for weekend at the resort. But what was supposed to be a romantic, much needed rest away from home left me feeling ashamed and violated. And perhaps the saddest part was that we were actually interested in buying! Had he shown us all the available options we would likely have committed, being as motivated as we were.

    Instead, we left feeling icky, and in more ways than one; I got food poisoning from eating their food and spent that very night on the cabin’s cold bathroom floor, unable to keep even a grain of rice down. I wrote my letters to the management and got no response or apology. Obviously, we never returned. Super yuk.

  • I recently had an experience ordering from a compact appliance company that advertised “Free Shipping.” What they did not reveal is that the delivery was only curbside. Imagine an applicance being delivered curbside in rain, snow, a bad neighborhood, etc., and an elderly person or a small person, or just a non-hulk person trying to lift a refrigerator into a house or a basement? Was I to carry it on my head? I have delth with this compact appliance company in the past and had a large appliance that was not only delivered to the residence, but installed. I felt taken in by the offer of “Free Delivery,” because I had to inconvenience someone such as a friend or hire someone to carry it from the curb to the destination! I called and to the company’s credit, they were happy for the feedback. I might also add that the delivery company was pushy and threatened storage charges with their first notice. When I called to arrange delivery, they made an appointment and did not deliver. No phone call to say that they were not coming. I made an appointment for another day. No delivdery and no phone call. I think that the retail sellers were sincerley happy for my feedback on their “free delivery” vendor.

  • Three years ago, I really wanted to learn the skills of List Building. I had been in a program with this person and had a good experience developing my writing skills and focusing on completion. As a result I signed up for his List building Course that was a six month program at a considerable cost that when paid in full up front resulted in a saving of 10%. At the time I had just that amount of money and paid it in full. He delivered two classes and no more and to this day has refused to refund the money for what he did not deliver. Eventually I did receive some CD’s and for an additional fee I need to join his website to download the other material.

    This has left with me with a very bad feeling about enrolling in programs on the internet. It is interesting this business is still going. It has made me very particular as to what I offer and deliver to be impeccable with what I deliver and to give more than expected. Also to not pay up front.

    I really appreciate your honesty, truth and integrity Tad. Have a happy holiday season. Carol Anne

  • Carol Anne. Wow. That’s so terrible. Holy lack of integrity . . .

  • Helena Fleming

    “HELENA – Intention. Hmm. My question with this is ‘which intentions do you feel are genuinely life serving?’ The Nazi’s genuinely felt their intentions were of service to the world. You know? They would have said that their intentions were good. So would the KKK. So are you saying that the tools are usually identical – that it’s all about WHAT is being marketed? And how do you see marketing being about ‘connection to community’?” – Tad

    Hey Tad,

    Sorry it’s taken me a while to get back to you! Here are my thoughts on your sensible queries!

    You bring up a good point about intention.

    All people want happiness and love.

    The golden rule works best in figuring out the true ethics of a particular ideology or behaviour (Nazi/KKK). “Do onto others (and I would include the earth and animals) as you would have them do unto you.”

    The difference I think can be found when you look at the process of people’s work an you can see that their intentions are driven by fear or a desire to punish rather than happiness. My understanding of both goodness and hippiness is the value of a peaceful ethics over all other considerations.

    This definition of “hippy” then differentiates itself from Nazi or KKK as their reason d’être may be to find happiness but their process is not.

    Their goal may have been “once we get rid of these people then we can be happy or have peace.” I would suggest figuring out what “hippy” means to you and then see if there are ways in which you market that is decidedly hippy and not used by any other marketing community. Marketing is a tool and all tools can be used for anything.

    On a slight side topic realizing that violent people are loving people who are simply afraid can bring an incredible amount of compassion to communication. People who are working in industries that are harmful want to be conscientious and want to work toward a peaceful way to do their work they are just afraid that if they do it differently they will lose. Maybe this is what differentiates hippy marketing from the mainstream.

    Ray Anderson is the CEO of Interface Inc. who once alerted to the environmental impact of his company made a radical change to the entire organization and went on to be spokesperson taking other large corporate giants to task to clean up their companies impact on the environment. If you give people a compelling reason to change and the ability to see that it is possible people will change. That is what marketing does.

    I think I may be getting off topic here… My main point in bringing up Ray Anderson is that I want to avoid demonizing anyone.

    “So are you saying that the tools are usually identical – that it’s all about WHAT is being marketed?”

    Yes and no, it is all about what is being marketed; if it’s the same tool with a “hippy take”. Whereas marketing that has a low environmental impact could be construed as a hippy type of marketing. That being said, now environmental impact and well being are such essential considerations for all people and so pervasive that they no longer belong to a fringe market but are valued across a wide range of markets.

    “How do you see marketing being about ‘connection to community’?”

    Isn’t all marketing connecting to community (group of people who share a common location or culture)? You have a product or service that you want to offer to the people around you. You choose the people that you feel would most benefit and who share a need. In your case you bring together “hippies”, a demographic that share a set of cultural attributes.

    Merry Christmas!

  • thank you helena! that was a great answer!