Over the years, much has been said about advertising and its ability to get consumers and businesses to make emotional buying decisions.
These decisions are based on supplying the right kind of truthful information and then getting the potential customer or client to respond to the information supplied.
The other day, as a consumer, I, too, was confronted with such a decision.
This decision called for me to buy, and, for a moment, I was ready. I was sold, sold emotionally, and violated in the process.
Some of you have most likely had your trust violated as well: by the mystery man "J."
"J" shows up in a typewritten envelope with a Philadelphia postmark. "J" encourages you to read an article by Leah Thayer, a book review on the guide The American Speaker.
Enclosed is a page that looks as if it has been torn from a magazine and folded to look familiar. "J" sticks his initial on a "post-it" note telling me personally, "Try this, it works."
I read the article top to bottom because it seems to have been sent by a friend of mine. I feel confident someone that knows me is truly trying to help me out.
I feel good that some friend knows and cares enough to send me information. I am truly blessed to have friends and business associates who truly care about me. Right? Or wrong.
Who is "J"? John my best man, Jim my high school buddy, Janis from sales, or James the vice-president?
I spend the better part of an evening and early morning trying to figure out who mysterious "J" is.
The next day, as I enter my office, a colleague bemoans direct mail and the lowest form of direct mail he got this week. The direct mail from "J."
How could "J" deceive me, and send this same advice to hundreds or thousands of other friends. It can't be, I'm special. "J" only sent this advice to me.
Disappointed, I realize that a bond of trust has been violated by "J." So, I investigate.
"J" turns out to be The George Town Publishing House in Washington, d.c., and when I contact it to get more information, I was told this was the method commonly used to sell various publications.
The American Speaker, at US$297 plus US$30 for shipping and handling, was the book being thrust upon me by my new concerned friend "J."
"J" had marked the document at the appropriate spot with which to order using tick marks and circles as would a true friend or business associate.
The whole piece was a scam. "J" was not a true friend, but an imposter: I felt betrayed.
How could "J" say he was a real friend when all he wanted me to do was buy a book? How could he assume it would work for me when he didn't know me?
"J" was crossing the boundary ever so slightly, but enough to make me feel cheap, used and mad.
Our industry has spent years trying to get consumers to buy. Over these years, there have been a number of questionable calls.
Yet, we have never callously pretended to be a caring, concerned friend or business associate.
For a second, I, a senior ad executive, had let my guard down. I trusted my friend "J," and I had been misled.
"J" is a cheap imitation, a misleading piece of direct mail, a fraudulent piece of paper made to look like help from someone trusted.
I took two steps back and realized that in a business I love and care about, one always needs to be on the lookout for the "J"s of the advertising and direct mail world.
Kensel Tracy is the Marketing Coach and is a Senior Partner with The Corporate Coachworkz Inc. located in Chelsea, Quebec.