Using marketing to make people hate you

There is more to marketing than making yourself heard – that is just a process, achieved with money and effort. The objective, however, is to make people buy from you, not hate the sight and sound of your name. Bad marketing taints the water for everyone else.

My post Revolutionary video pillory for PR consultants drew attention to a video on Charles Christian’s Orange Rag which sounded more like a recording than the parody it was meant to be.

He has now put up a sequel The embargo has been broken which, unlike most film sequels, maintains the standard of the first.

Whilst on the subject of PR consultants, can I give a medal to whoever is responsible for the PR for a particular US translations company? I had never heard of them before the recent campaign began and, it is fair to say, I never want to hear of them again. The trick appears to be to place the same article about the company in as many places as possible, regardless of context — I came across one today on what appears to be a site for fatties and food faddists with tags like “burn fat fast” and “psychic powers” and “healthy foods to eat”. They are not, therefore, fussy about the company they keep, merely keen that you should see their bloody press release as often as possible.

Its wording has been designed to reach anyone interested in LegalTech – that word appears in the heading and, in a dull and plodding (and, by this stage in the year, wholly gratuitous) way, in each of the first four paragraphs. Like many people, I have a Google alert for “LegalTech”, so I get them all, sometimes twice in a single alert, and often several times a day.

The company’s SEO maestro does not, I think, claim English as his first language. “LegalTech 2010 was Participated by XXX Translations” reads one headline and “LegalTech conference was a big success in familiarizing XXX Translations’ …services….to the legal societies at large” suggests that there is one language at least with which XXX Translations is not wholly familiar. The sentence “As they flourish their range of legal translating services & technical translation & localization services, they look forward for making the event a permanent event on the calendar in the years to come” manages simultaneously to show that no-one has considered the actual sense of the words and to imply that LegalTech will survive only as a result of XXX’s presence. How has LegalTech managed for 40 years without them? And what will your translations come out like?

Nor are XXX shy of exaggeration, as appears from the sentence “XXX Translations demonstrated their legal translation & patent translation services to more than 30,000 attorneys, litigation support consultants, and paralegals in the LegalTech® 2010 Conference in February 2010”. That is a few more people than I saw at LegalTech, but let’s generously assume that XXX were more observant than I was. I make that 1,000 people per hour over three ten-hour days watching these demos. I am hurt that I got no invitation. No wonder XXX is “the niche leader” (not any old niche leader, but THE niche leader).

I have three options, I suppose — I can continue to put up with alerts in which I have no interest, I can set up a rule to delete any references to XXX or I can scrap my LegalTech alert.

One of my themes in my speaking at the moment is the importance of the objective over the process – you have to get the process (for which read court rules and an EDRM-driven approach to doing the job in my context) right but do not overlook what the client wants to achieve whilst achieving that process. The PR people for XXX have got the process, in crude mechanical terms, absolutely right; their grasp of search engine optimisation and their use of Google’s indexing power cannot be faulted. If, however, their objective was to make the client loved and admired, then they have failed utterly. I doubt that I am the only one who hates the very sight of their name by now.

There is something similar on Spotify at the moment where one advertisement, beginning “At British Ga…” turns up time after time, often in almost every ad break through an evening, spoken by an actor who sounds like – I’d better not say what he calls to mind, actually, in case he is not acting. I do not know how the rest of it goes, because I can generally get my headphones’ volume control to zero by “Ga”, but I assume it is for the much-hated British Gas (profits up by 58% to £595m last year). I can understand Spotify’s motive – the more we hate the ads, the more likely we are to pay for the ad-free service – but who decided on behalf of British Ga… that pissing off the audience several times an hour was the way to encourage us to move from one profiteering energy supplier to another? Once is fine – I listen to Spotify advertisements as a fair quid pro quo for the extraordinarily good content – but over and over again?

Why do you care?, you ask. What is it to you if some semi-literate SEO geek incites you to hate his client? I care because the saturation of the bandwidth drives e-discovery audiences away from the whole subject. My role is to get them interested in what the supplier side of the industry has to offer to the lawyers and their clients, and the unfocussed spray of poorly-written, badly-presented garbage which gets thrown over the audiences buries the useful material which might actually help.

Besides, I am glad to have been given a copybook example of the contrast between process for its own sake and the objective. It is not difficult to get a name heard – you can buy SEO and buy Spotify airtime. That is the process part of marketing. The aim, however, is to sell things, not make the listener hate you so much that he or she devises ways to block your messages.


About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
This entry was posted in eDisclosure, eDiscovery, Electronic disclosure, Litigation Support, Marketing, SEO. Bookmark the permalink.

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