Leave Me Alone!
This morning as eight of us were getting organized to begin a business meeting, one of the participants needed to gripe about something.
“As I get closer and closer to 65, I am deluged by companies trying to sell me their Medicare insurance plans. Everyone seems to know my birthday. And everyone is offering incomprehensible plans that are impossible to compare to each other.”
This opened the floodgates for others to chime in with their own stories about the loss of privacy and incomprehensible company communications .I shared that I was being targeted as well with pitches for products and services aimed at older people. For some unknown reason many of the ads are for adult diapers…luckily something I don’t need.
The internet has decided I really need to go to an all-inclusive over 50 resort and as if to convince me of this, ads appear displaying pictures of amazingly fit people in swimsuits all sporting full heads of extremely grey hair. For reasons unclear, online jewelers are convinced I need to buy necklaces and earrings on a daily basis.
And let’s not forget the psychic powers of Amazon. I once bought a book on the site about hiking as a favor to the author. Alas, my purchase did not rocket him to the best seller list but it did cause Amazon to continuously nudge me about every book on hiking and related topics such as mountain climbing ever published, something it will likely continue to do forever. In my entire life, the only book I bought (or likely will ever buy) on hiking was that one title.
I actually watch or read some of this wasted advertising carefully. I’m fascinated about how companies decide to target me but don’t bother to get enough information to target me properly. I am never targeted for anything I might actually be interested in. There really isn’t any chance that I will buy feminine hygiene products.
These companies are invading my privacy in bulk with an inability to customization for my specific interests and needs in spite of all they seem to know about me. I actually find this encouraging since it shows they don’t have the knowledge and skill to target me specifically…yet. I suppose this means I still have a bit of privacy in a sea of surveillance.
I expect all of you reading this have been thinking about your own version of this story. Companies know so much about each of us. And yet, so often they use the information so poorly. Instead of enticing me to their Caribbean resort I now know a resort company I will never patronize.
What does this mean for your own organization? It’s a fine line between enticement and turn-off when it comes to marketing. Leaders spend lots of time thinking about how to present their companies in the best light and then, one poorly made or misdirected ad overcomes any goodwill they have built. And as we all know, most people share bad experiences with many more people and for a longer time than something that worked out fine.