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How aggressive marketing tactics can backfire on businesses

After considering how aggressive marketing tactics in our company could backfire, I offer you two examples of how aggressive marketing dissuaded me from purchasing a product I would likely have purchased otherwise.

aggressive marketing tactics

aggressive marketing tactics

Example one: aggressive magazine marketing

My subscription to a magazine I’ve subscribed to for a decade is approaching expiration. Every month for the past 6 months I’ve been getting paper direct mail letters asking me to renew, and wrappers on my magazines. Keep in mind this is something I’ve been a subscriber to for 10 years. I like the magazine, but this year, I wasn’t sure I really wanted to renew it (I’m cutting down on paper). Still, there was a chance I would renew. The barrage of paper really turned me off, as it kept coming with increasing urgency.

Then my last issue arrived. The cover wrapper screamed: LAST ISSUE. RENEW IT OR LOSE IT!

Hmmm. Perhaps I was reading too much into a cover wrap, but my knee jerk reaction was to skim through the magazine, rip out two articles I wanted to read, and toss the entire thing in the garbage. That’s what I do with the dozen or more paper magazines I get. I don’t have time to read them cover to cover, so I skim, rip tearsheets, and file for future reading. Toss the magazine.

Well this particular ultimatum sealed the deal. I can get what I need online from this magazine, so I won’t be renewing. I just don’t feel like it now.

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Example two: educational webinars

I am constantly taking real estate courses, some designation courses, some not. I took a non-NAR designation class and I actually learned a lot. I signed up for the monthly webinars and was totally turned off when the leader gave us current market info each month, a technique or two to help the business, and then hammered over and over that more/better info would only be available for another fee, to get a higher level of the designation (the advanced version). I enjoyed the preliminary education and materials. But I didn’t want to pay the additional monthly fee to have the right to the advanced designation.

So when the year came up and it was time to renew the designation, I decided to pass. The emails kept coming: renew your designation OR ELSE. The OR ELSE started out friendly enough, positively listing all the benefits of being in their designation circle. Referrals, knowledge, online directory, database of info. Then, as the weeks went on, it got a little ugly. The final few emails were borderline threatening: if you don’t renew now, you must stop using our logo and our materials. Gee. Great. I don’t use logos on my marketing for all the designations I have anyway! No big loss.

Then I received a final, borderline angry email stating I was no longer a designation holder, and to immediately remove all marketing materials referencing their group from my business cards, flyers, website, etc. The implication was that printing new business cards and flyers would be more expensive than sending them their $99. All I could wonder was did this threat work on other people? Did some fall for this threat and see printing new cards more hassle than sending in the fee? I deleted the email.

How this applies to your business

Now, to get to my point – how are you marketing your services? Are you turning people off by threatening them that using your product or services is more dangerous than NOT hiring you? For example, I overheard a conversation between a home buyer agent and his client. He was asking the buyer to sign a buyer’s agency contract and said, “If you don’t sign this, I don’t represent you. I technically represent the seller. You don’t want me to represent the seller, you want me to represent you and your best interests. Otherwise, I won’t be able to look out for your own best interests in this deal.” Maybe that’s a true statement, but doesn’t it come off a bit like a threat?

I’ve seen ads and marketing on websites where fellow real estate agents list the negatives (rather than the positives) that come off as aggressive. They list what NOT listing with that agent will do to the seller, and what bad things could happen to FSBO sellers, for example. They list the dangers in being an unrepresented buyer. In creating urgency to sign that buyer’s agency form, they may unintentionally be scaring the buyer away from using their services, or at least turning them off.

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Take a look at your marketing. What does it say about you and your services or products? Is it written in a positive, upbeat tone? Or an aggressive, threatening style? How would you respond if someone tried to sell you on their services using a threat?

Written By

Erica Ramus is the Broker/Owner of Ramus Realty Group in Pottsville, PA. She also teaches real estate licensing courses at Penn State Schuylkill and is extremely active in her community, especially the Rotary Club of Pottsville and the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. Her background is writing, marketing and publishing, and she is the founder of Schuylkill Living Magazine, the area's regional publication. She lives near Pottsville with her husband and two teenage sons, and an occasional exchange student passing thru who needs a place to stay.

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