Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Diary of a Bull$hit Explainer

By Gina F. Rubel

How often do you have to explain something to a client, family member, colleague or friend that you know is bullshit? Please forgive the language, but there really is no other term for it. It is what it is, as they say!

Today, I actually thought to add “bullshit explainer” to my bio. It disgusts me that there are so many marketing scams and schemes out there, run by people and companies who are just trolling for victims. In fact, Snopes.com has dedicated a whole section of its website to Marketing 101 urban legends.

As a result, I’ve decided to keep a diary this week of bullshit that we come across regularly, that otherwise would victimize the unsuspecting.

Those “fake” Yellow Page listings: Every few months, we receive a letter in the mail that says it’s time to renew our Yellow Page listings. If you get one of these, be suspicious.

The big dogs in Yellow Page advertising, both print and online, have thousands of well-trained sales representatives who call on their clients annually for renewal. Sales reps often are compensated based on new or increased sales and renewals, so they don’t simply rely on snail mail. If you get one of those letters, question it. Don’t just put it in your bookkeeper’s “to pay” file. That is exactly what bullshit companies are hoping you’ll do.

Google’s latest unsolicited analytics, “Your personalized Analytics report”: This week, we received an unsolicited email from “Google” which provided us with analytics for our blog, ThePRLawyer.com. The analytics were so nebulous that we couldn’t help but deduct that they are being distributed simply to increase ad word sales.

There is no time frame for the analytics. They use terms like “bounce rate” in bold as a scare tactic. In fact, when you read the fine print, “bounce rate” means “how many people leave your site without visiting any other pages on your site.” For a blog, that’s not necessarily bad. If you are driving traffic to a particular story that interests the reader and they read it and move on, you have accomplished your goal.

Here, bounce rate is not synonymous with the “bounce rate” of electronic newsletters. Couldn’t they come up with a better descriptive phrase? They came up with the name “Google,” didn’t they?

Bogus online listing about to expire: Almost weekly, our clients get emails stating that their “listing is about to expire.” When you investigate further, there was never any listing to begin with.

The most recent notice received by one of our clients was from a low-quality website where our client had not been listed in the first place. Scamming companies such as these hope that people, such as our clients, will click on those listings which will, in turn, boost the flow of internet traffic to their website. If the visitor then creates an actual listing for her company on that website, the scammer has benefitted in two ways.

Feel free to add your bullshit marketing stories here, too. I’m sure there’s more where these came from.

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