Friday, April 3

Considering "That Guy": Chris Brogan

Yesterday, Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs, wrote a post about "that guy." You know, "that one" who engages in social media from a purely push marketing perspective.

"'That guy' shows up and starts bullhorning (sic) her message into the crowd," he writes. “'Hi! I can show you thirty ways to make money while you sleep!'”

To make matters worse, the less attention they receive, the louder they get. THE BIGGER THEIR WORDS BECOME. And the more exclamation points they use!!! As if ... as if punctuation and caps can somehow communicate what their words fail to say.

Sooner or later, "that guy" or "that gal" might even find themselves in a virtual vacuum because the outcome of their marketing message results in aversion as opposed to attraction. Don't they know, in the words of Mary Stewart, that "it is harder to kill a whisper than even a shouted calumny." Shhh...

Brogan then offers ten ways to build relationships before you ask anything. It's a useful list. I encourage you to check it out.

However, all the tactics in the world can't help you if you don't change the strategy. Most online communication, especially one-to-one communication, is virtually identical to face-to-face communication, with exception to its relative permanence. The brain doesn't distinguish between online and offline experiences, and perhaps, neither might you.

There is no difference between online and offline engagement.

"That guy" and "that gal" exist offline too. They are the same people pumping business cards into the hands of everyone at a business luncheon before the smile that accompanies an initial introduction has time to fade long enough for our brains to file away their face for future recognition. "That guy" and "that gal" are the ones who give marketing sales a bad name.

Sure, card pumping works in the short term much like a lion pouncing on prey. But long term, it only leads to indigestion as little whispers become attached to their reputation. You might have heard them before. "Oh no," they might say. "Here she/he comes again." And with those whispers, over time, come feelings of aversion.

Really, it's not all that different from what Bill Murray's (Phil Conner) character felt when he saw Stephen Tobolowsky (Ned Ryerson) on the front end of the film Groundhog Day. In fact, we all felt aversion to Ned. That is, until we had a chance to see him as a real person, much later in the movie.

My point is simple enough: there is only one secret to online engagement. While business blogs are fine, and we all expect they might share something about the business, individual engagement is person to person and requires offline sensibility. Why? Because it's the same. Did you hear that? Yeah ... it's the same.

Just don't tell "that guy." We appreciate the early warning.


Paul Baines on 4/3/09, 7:04 PM said...

I don't comment too much on other's blogs but I had to chip in here and give you some major props for this post. You took the words right out of my mouth/mind/keyboard. I've never appreciated sales and marketing "types" - I've unfortunately found myself working in such an environment in "real life" at times of economic desperation and there are only usually two reasons for such fake and over animated behaviour - delusion or desperation or a mixture of the two. I've been fired for questioning sales tactics, in fact I haven't tried to out and out market anything in years, a good product sells itself to be honest - ramming exclamations and bold caps into life online or offline will turn me off 99% of the time. Those who simply live for profit must live vacuous lives, what do the 1% at the top of their mlm pyramid actually do with their money? I mean do they ever take time off and simply experience life? I somehow doubt it, if they did they may just see things from a whole new perspective vis-a-vis exactly what it's like to be socially bombarded by a one-dimensional exaggerator with nothing on their mind than glib and empty promises and dollar signs in their eyes. Oh well... sorry to blog hog - you just pressed a major button for me - cheers Paul

JaredOToole on 4/4/09, 5:41 PM said...

Nice post. It is the same. Spamming people with pointless stuff offline doesn't work and doing it online doesn't work.

Those guys tend to be louder online just because they can hide behind their computer. It's easy to shout all you want online and just see what happens. If you don't want to hear the people yelling at you you dont have to, unlike offline.

Rich on 4/5/09, 8:09 AM said...


Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I'm glad you did. Comments often make the post. :)

For the aggressive salesman, I think you nailed it. They are demonstrating their own ignorance. They, very literary, do not know the consequences of their actions because their limited experience has created a mental model that suggests their hard sales approach works. The illusion they create has to do with the fact that as long as they continually find new prospects, then they never stick around long enough to wear out their welcome.

That other point, in terms of being a balanced individual, is equally right on the mark. One day, and for each person it's different I suppose, they will wake up and wonder for any material gains that they assume will increase their quality of life, they actually diminished it.

It's sad, really, especially since the most successful people I know have never allowed one facet of their lives to dominate all others. As more dynamic people, they attract success rather than trying to case it down.


That makes a lot of sense to me. For the lack of understanding that online and offline are the same, we increase the propensity of creating more Neds.

And, like I mentioned in regard to Paul's comments, their short-term success reinforces the illusion. Maybe there is a light at the end of tunnel. Eventually, they might run out of prospects. :)

Well said. And all my best,

timethief on 4/5/09, 2:57 PM said...

Sadly, it seems that the information age touted as the age of persuasion has become the age of invasion.

When I first got a twitter account I was amazed to find hundreds of people whose profiles stated they were internet marketers were following my infrequent tweets. My tweets amount to posting links to my latest blog posts and chatting briefly with friends about light weight stuff.

I had some very persistent and loud types insist that I wasn't communicating with them as I was expected to. This made me scratch my head because I didn't have a clue who they were. Well, it didn't take long for the caps lock to go on and the links to products and services for sale to be hurled at me through cyberspace.

I blocked everyone of them and protected my tweets so I didn't have to put up with the NOISE!

Every year from spring to fall I market artwork directly to customers and the rest of the year art and craft shops place wholesale orders with me.

I have learned what not to do when marketing through my own experiences as a marketer and as a consumer, and also by watching other artists attempting to market their works.

There are many business people who don't think about whether their sales pitch style could be perceived as pushy or aggressive and fail to comprehend that if it is, they are turning potential customers off.

I have learned that a customer is only with you because she wants to be there listening, and if your pitch is aggressive that customer can quickly change her mind about being in contact with you at all.

There are sure fire ways to kill any possibility of creating a relationship with any potential customer:

(1) Trying to be overly familiar with the customer too early on in the sales process. Relationships don't just happen they are built on a foundation of trust and building trust takes time. They commence by asking permission to address the customer by her name.

(2) Failing to be an active listener who is watching for body language, facial expressions and gestures which can communicate messages like "Tell me more", "I don't understand", "That's interesting" and even "Stop".

(3) Refusing to accept the "No thanks, not at this time message with grace". Once the customer says it's a good product or service but she's not interested in purchasing at this time do not escalate, respect the feedback and back off.

On one hand, when I ask customers if they would like to accept a business card and get visit my studio "some day" most will smile and accept the card. A percentage of them do visit and do purchase later on.

On the other hand, I have watched other artists aggressively attempting to ply potential customers, who are shaking their heads and who have body language that clearly states "no sale", with their business cards. I've watched the people in question accept the card, walk away and dump the card into the nearest trashcan.

If a marketer continues to spam a customer with unwanted email, IM messages and /or tweets it's not surprising that they may quickly develop an antipathy towards the spammer that may also extend and become a rejection of the product or service. Therefore I always ask for permission to make future contact and specifically ask which method of contact they prefer.

If the customer is a strong personality as I do, and if she is spammed she may meet the aggression with open hostility. Word of mouth is always a factor and once annoyed that customer may choose to share her negative impression with others. If so, then the consequence of aggressive salesmanship will not be just the loss of a single sale.

Some of the most dreadful and off-putting advertisements I have ever witnessed have been online sales offers and adverts such as "buy my ebook and get rich quick schemes". I have witnessed so many now that every day a significant amount of such email without even opening it.

Without doubt, your article is right on. Online or offline - it's the same.

Rich on 4/7/09, 2:24 PM said...

Thanks TT,

I always appreciate your insights. The age of invasion, indeed. :)

I've never understood the "rules of engagement" as established by professionals. I also don't really have problems with brands in the space, since the option to follow them is exactly that, optional. At least they are honest about intent as opposed to some who pretend to be personal, when they're really looking for a sale.

About your points, which I think may even merit another post ...

1. I agree that the faux friend with my customers concept has probably been taken too far and sometimes too strong.

2. I was just talking about this today. I remember a board member who started straightening pictures in the meeting room, indicating that Q&A had gone on too long but the sales person didn't see it. You can "feel" it, even on service like Twitter, imo.

3. Exactly. :)

Your examples are perfect. There is no difference between online and off. If anything, we might be a little more sensitive since online interactions stick around a whole lot longer.

All my best,


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