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Common Sense Consensual Marketing

by Michel Fortin

One of the things most if not all Internet marketers come across at least once in their lives is "spam." Whether they've used it, contemplated it, rallied against it, or received it, the deceptively appealing nature of unsolicited commercial email as well as the gut-wrenching, mind-numbing, nerve-racking person-hours it takes to manage spam makes it the most detested form of online marketing. But the question remains: Why is it still being used?

A Lesson From Jack Trout and Al Ries
Today, while driving to a client in my consulting practice, I listened to the audio version of one of my favorite books, "The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing" by Al Ries and Jack Trout -- the fathers of positioning. One of their laws struck me in a way it has never struck me before, for I realized, now that I do business online, how much these laws apply to Internet marketing as well. It also struck me because the book was written in a time when email was relatively unknown and "WWW" was thought of as an acronym for some new sports organization.

Law number eleven, which is the law of perspective, states: In marketing, "The long-term effects are usually the exact opposite of the short-term effects." Al Ries illustrates this law with sales promotions and the way they work -- and work against you. While sales do help to increase business in the short-term, in the long-term the effect wears off and, like a drug, one has to inject more price-based incentives to keep the volume at a certain level. Ultimately, a discount-driven company will see its business inevitably decrease since, as Ries points out, "Sales tend to educate consumers over time never to buy at 'regular' prices."

Sex, drugs, money, and crime are all typical examples in which short-term gains can lead to long-term losses. But these hedonistic types of marketing approaches are not limited to sales promotions. With the Internet comes along another -- this seemingly unstoppable barrage of unwanted commercial email called "spam." Obviously, spam is effective and very profitable since, if it wasn't, it would have stopped haunting our inboxes long ago. However, in addition to the potential infringement of new business-related laws, the negative consequences of spam with regards to long-term profitability far outweigh the short-term advantages.

Credibility is Crucial
A business' most important asset is its credibility -- and more so online, for the Internet lacks the human element. (By the way, it is this very lack that often makes spam so attractive if not addictive -- some tend to forget that people receive the mail, not computers.) Nevertheless, credibility in the faceless online world is like oxygen in its offline version: Critically important and inescapably essential. Therefore, a more profitable, long-term solution is the creation of one's own mailing lists or the use of others that are opt-in, responsible, and targeted.

Consequently, ezines are growing with astonishing fervor. Beyond the fact that they help build trust and credibility, ezines help you to stay in constant touch with your prospects. People want to get to know you. And the level of value they attribute to their purchase from you is -- as unrelated as it may seem -- inextricably tied to the level of trust they place in you.

Sure, short-term band-aid solutions can produce good results. Sales and profits can be made with spam (or without the need for prospects to know you, for that matter). But like drugs, these solutions are only short-lived, which is why they must be continuously repeated in order to remain viable let alone profitable -- hence, the reason why spammers keep spamming.

Knowing you is the basis of any long-term business success. If you're in it for the long haul and if you want to remain profitable for a long period of time, then consider the converse -- short-term losses versus long-term gains. In other words, don't spam. Find ways to get and stay in contact with eager, interested, and consensual prospects. Publish your own ezine. Buy or rent targeted opt-in lists from reputable mailing list brokers. Get linked on as many other sites as possible. Most important, advertise in ezines... It's your surest and safest bet.

Needless to say, it is commonsensical that, if you sell a product online that helps to make life easier for your prospects, don't market your product in a way that negates or contradicts that very point. Use responsible email marketing strategies. The pitfalls of spam marketing will, in the end, cost you much more than some of its more respectable alternatives.

About the Author
Michel Fortin is a consultant dedicated to helping businesses turn into powerful magnets. Visit http://SuccessDoctor.com to receive a free copy of his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning." He is also the editor of the "Internet Marketing Chronicles" ezine delivered weekly to 90,000 subscribers -- subscribe free at http://SuccessDoctor.com/IMC/.

Tags: E-commerce and Internet



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