Someday there will be a licensing requirement for marketing people. They will have to complete some sort of I’m not really going to do dumb things class before being able to unleash marketing programs on the rest of us. It will be a great course with books by Doc Searls, Hugh MacLeod, Seth Godin, etc, as required reading.
Until then, your new start up gets to see dumb programs in action.
From time to time I check cnn.com for news. Off to the right is a block ad from the travel company, TravelZoo. Here is a screen shot from Sunday morning (July 23rd):
As you can see, it is a July 19th date and the word “sampling” is on the ad. What caught my eye was Spirit Airlines doing the $9 airfare thing. Europe has been blessed with a bunch of discount airlines doing airfares for a dollar so I was intrigued at the possibility this might be happening in the US.
So I clicked specifically on the Spirit link to take a look. Roadblock number one pops up:
I think Robert Scoble has been ranting to anybody that would listen about Newsletters vs. an RSS feed (or at least the option). So, of course, I put in a bogus email address with a not so subtle message. The pain and number of clicks to get to this offer, continue with this:
The fun continues with this web page:
As they say; “But wait! There’s more!”
Finally, we get to the offer page:
What you can’t see is the little red update line, dated 12:01a on July 19th, pointing out the deal was expired. Right. “Released” on July 19th and Expired on July 19th, on the CNN page July 23rd, Ta Da..
This notion of collecting email addresses and building mailing lists, with due respect to Robert and other RSS fans, is probably still a reasonable way to communicate with millions of people who are outside the echo chamber. You could argue we should be educating them, but that’s for another day.
My point here is the approach. The flow is, at best, cumbersome. Since there is no checking of the email addresses, no sending the data to my email, etc, this is just a giant harvesting scheme with the company assuming a certain percentage of crap. Dumb. You’d think sending me to the page and suggesting that I could get these offers direct by signing up might get valid email addresses as well as a harvest of customer who start out actually wanting information from the company. The company would actually get an invitation to send something vs. this shove it down my throat approach.
As Zee Frank might say, “This is TravelZoo, being stupid so you don’t have to.”