When Does “Accepted Practice” Become “Sleazy Marketing”?


I’ve always been leery of the instant online businesses that promise the world, but the lure is always out there. What if they really work, and I’ve been wasting my time building a business with a step by step process that begins with a strong foundation?

Eventually the lure worked. I just had to know! Recently I bought one of those done-for-you online business systems and was immediately presented with several upsell opportunities. Upsells are pretty standard “accepted practice” for online or offline sales, although most transactions do not have quite so many upsells as this one! I said no to the options I wasn’t interested in and carried through the sales process for the options I wanted. At the end of it, I was the proud owner of not one but three new memberships. I’m testing them now, if I like what I find I will write more about each one. At this point, I’m OK with the entire process, if a little wary – there were a LOT of upsells.

The next thing I know I’m being inundated with emails from all three memberships – each of them has several autoresponders – some for actual membership information, but the majority are sales emails. I’m up to about 10 emails every day including weekends, it’s hard to separate one company from another… and I’m beginning to wonder if all of these companies are owned by the same person!

Yes, it is an accepted practice to set up a carefully timed autoresponder series to keep a new customer up to date with what they have just purchased, tell them a bit more about your business, etc. But is it necessary to upsell to other products and programs and memberships every day? And send a reminder the next day and the next day too? All with the same urgency of limited time and limited buying opportunities? I think not. Now it’s leaning toward the sleazy side of the scale. But I’m still interested in the stuff I bought, so I’m just ignoring all these wonderful opportunities they are telling me about.

The next thing pushed it a lot further over to the sleazy side for me. I received a call from someone saying they had been asked to contact me by the owner of the first membership I purchased. Apparently I was being selected to become a coaching client, and there was quite a process to go through before I might be accepted into the very special program they had designed especially for buyers of this particular membership. Oh my. Aren’t I special! Several phone calls and a little research and I came to the conclusion that the membership owner sells their membership list as a leads list.*

I’m not sure how many more phone calls I will get like this, but I’m perfectly prepared now – the last caller promised to follow up in six months or so. Less than two weeks later, a different caller made the very same call using the very same script – and was met with the same response from me – please stop! In sleazy marketing no isn’t no, it’s just another opportunity to try again regardless of the prospect’s needs, wants or preferences!

At this point, I’ve had very little time to spend on my new memberships, I’m so busy dealing with phone calls and emails. Even after unsubscribing from several of their mailing lists, I continue to be inundated with daily pressured salesy emails. I still think there is good value in at least two of them, but I’m not sure the value of the first one is going to make it to my “recommended resources” list!

Autoresponders are a great time saver. When done right, they will strengthen your business, solidify the relationship between you and your clients, help you to retain those clients, and result in more sales to those clients. Done wrong… well, if it’s done wrong with me it’s going to result in articles and posts about sleazy marketers!

I’m not going to mention the names of these businesses, I’m not finished evaluating yet. I’m pretty sure that there IS some good stuff underneath the sleazy marketing, and as soon as I can set up some rules in my email to trash the sleaze, I’ll get right back to those evaluations. Those rules aren’t guaranteed to work however, as these “expert” marketers regularly change their email settings so they send from different accounts to bypass rules as fast as I can set them up.

One more point I just have to make – small business owners have big dreams and limited time. We have a lot to deal with, usually on our own. Dealing with all these sleazy sales emails can knock a small business owner off their purposeful actions which actually contribute to their own success. That’s the sleaziest of the sleaze… because sleazy marketers KNOW these business owners now need a coach to keep them “on track” and they are happy to “request” some other sleazy company to contact you! There are a lot of great, reputable, ethical coaches to choose from, who truly will help you to build the business of your dreams.

* Please do not ever buy an email list for your email marketing! If you have questions about how to ethically use email marketing, please visit my website to learn the best practices for email marketing.

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