Swim With Da Fishes Marketing

Still deep sea diving.

But I want to keep the discussion going.

The concussion grenade video really struck a chord.

Lots of megasmart comments.
Lots of tweetage.
Lots of emails.

This is important stuff.

And some really good things are coming out of this.

So let’s keep talking.

Today: A short rap about a ridiculously common marketing thing that totally reeks of craptasticness.

p.s. This video? A little swear-ey. Again. Still not safe for spinning at the cubicle.

Nothing to see here.

{The video is temporarily wonked. A crack team of gnomes are on it. Stay tuned.}

How do you feel when someone goes all swim-with-da-fishes on you?
What does this fishiness kick up inside of you?
How do you want sellers-of-stuff to talk to you?
And, peeps who sell stuff, how do you rock your Thing without resorting to this?

Dig this?

Sign up + don’t miss a drop. Email or RSS. Take your pick, tater.

14 Responses to Swim With Da Fishes Marketing
  1. Dick Carlson
    May 12, 2011 | 7:57 am

    In my former life, years ago, I used to run high-end camera stores. My employees would ignore customers who came in to buy simple cameras, because they figured the people weren’t “serious photographers” and didn’t know all about depth of field, hyperfocal distance, and inverted exposure reciprocity.

    I had a teenager who handled the cash register, and she shyly asked if it was ok if she showed people the inexpensive cameras “when the guys were busy”. (It was a pretty sexist world, back in the 80’s in technology.) I encouraged her, taught her about the simple cameras we sold, and watched her SELL THE PANTS off my salesmen in their ties and coats.

    She showed people pictures she took with her little $50 camera, and they walked out of the store with a camera — and film, and a bag, and a flash, and some filters, and some processing coupons. (All stuff we made lots of money on, so she got a big commission.)

    When they became “serious photographers” the demanded that Mary wait on them — no snooty guys for them.

  2. chris zydel
    May 12, 2011 | 8:02 am

    Hey Fabeku,

    First off: I’m totally loving the cool and colorful names that you are coming up with to describe these various Internet Marketing phenomenon. The swim with da fishes analogy complete with sicilian mobster intonation made me totally laugh out loud.

    But on the serious side… yes, I know what you mean by feeling emotionally extorted through feeling shamed and being told I’m not serious about my business etc. if I don’t fork over the dough for the top tier.

    And yes, that attitude turns me off completely and keeps my finger far, far away from hitting the buy button.

    And there is another part of this for me which is, as you pointed out, people who use those tactics are often offering fluffy, filler kind of stuff at their higher level and not true value.

    This pisses me off even further because they are disrespecting me by giving me the hidden message that they think I’m enough of an idiot to fall for that crap!

    Which also makes me scurry away from their site as fast as I can possibly go and never look back.

    In my mind effective marketing is actually pretty simple:
    Provide value.
    Give your customers clear choices.
    Make them feel good about themselves and about you by treating them with respect.
    Have your customers happily pay you because they are thrilled about the service or product they are receiving.
    Watch them eagerly and willingly come back for more!

    I don’t know. Maybe it’s too simple for this high speed Internet world.

    But so far it seems to be working for me just fine.

  3. Mark Silver
    May 12, 2011 | 8:59 am

    I was facing this issue myself when I decided to offer our six-month program in three tiers: how to genuinely communicate the value of each level. It took some real thinking and contemplation to get clear on it. It also took some time to figure out how to make each tier work for both the business, us, and the clients.

    I love the people in every tier, and am glad that some folks, who are very serious about their business, chose the lowest tier because that’s what they needed.

    But, it takes work to craft an offer. It takes real thinking to make it work out. And it’s far more profitable for us to have people purchasing at every level, rather than just one particular level.

  4. andrea
    May 12, 2011 | 9:04 am

    Love, Fabeku, Love.

    Although actually I can think of one positive thing about the high end fluff stuff… I got the top tier thingy and it was mostly about saying yes to me, and saying “Oh yes I am willing to give my business what it needs to figure out how to grow it.” and in that way – that was money really really well spent because it helped me solidify my commitment to myself.

    No, I’m not sure that the bonuses and things that made it the top tier were actually worth what I paid.

    But that feeling, that feeling of “I am going to give my business whatever it needs.” was totally worth paying for.

    Of course – that’s because at that point – it was a hobby. Which is pretty ironic and funny. Now that my business is a business no of course I wouldn’t go for all of the bonuses – who has time for that? And I wouldn’t fall for that kind of approach.

    And I can’t even remember the last time I was anywhere near a website like that.

    So, even in this one positive scenario that I can see – it sure doesn’t create return customers.

  5. Barb Black
    May 12, 2011 | 9:29 am

    First of all, I don’t buy anything from anyone if their selling stance is based on insulting me and/or their competitors. My feeling is that if your product can’t stand on its own legs of greatness, you have no business being in business.

    I’m a very slow starter when it comes to my business (selling my card designs and artwork). That seems to bother everyone but me. I don’t want to jump into anything, not because I’m afraid of it, but because at the end of the day, it’s just me, and I only have so many arms and legs to commit to everything I want to do. I also have fairly limited financial resources, so I have to be prudent.

    Sure, I could set up a complete website (and one day I will) and at least triple the work I have coming in right now, but I’d be so flippin’ busy that I’d lose my focus. I finally have the opportunity to do the things I love and I don’t that to turn into some stressful quagmire of bullshit, y’know?

    I also like it when service is personal, and I strive for that with my business. So while some people might like a more automated approach to my work (like being able to just click on a card and tell the shopping cart they want 20 of them), I’d prefer to have a conversation with people, get to know them, get to know what they’re looking for, and design something unique and appropriate for them.

    So far that works, and it works well. So I ain’t fixin’ what ain’t broke.

    As far as people selling things to me, I detest being talked down to. I’m an intelligent woman, and I want to be treated as such. If I have questions, I’ll ask them! Don’t tell me how much I’ll suck if I don’t buy your product, tell me how awesome I already am, and how much awesomer your procuct could make me.

    It’s like the beauty product commercials on tv that basically say, “Tired of looking like hammered shit? Try this amazing powder.” Nuh uh. How about just once trying, “You know, you’re beautiful just the way you are, but this amazing powder will make you such a knockout that people will go out of their way to meet you.” Not that I go for sexist beauty crap like that, but you get the point.

    Great post, Fabeku… keep ’em comin’…

  6. Suzanne
    May 12, 2011 | 10:28 am

    Excellent brain igniter! as usual F!
    As a “newbie” in the marketing area, I am totally feeling like I am “sucktastic” at everything based on a lot of what I am reading!!!
    This is NOT cool! I want to be educated and guided, not stripped and left feeling like I can only make it if I spend my whole marketing budget right THEN on THEIR stuff!
    Ya you are so spot on! Off to dig deeper in this world!
    Keep Rappin!!!
    Suzanne

  7. Joely Black
    May 12, 2011 | 10:53 am

    Wow, yes!

    I’m going to answer the how I’d like to be sold to bit. I signed up to a newsletter on a website recently and since then I’ve been deluged, absolutely deluged with emails about their latest product, which they’re obviously pushing hard. As a result, I’ve just unsubscribed. I’ve had an email every day for a week.

    I don’t need to be told THAT MANY TIMES about the product. I’m not buying. And because I’ve made the decision not to buy, more pressure makes me angry and less interested in the other stuff this person has to offer.

    How would I like to be sold to, or what would buy me in? Anything that makes me feel supported, without being pushy. I love the way you sell. You sell in a kind of “Hey, let’s sit on the couch, chat about some stuff, relax and let it happen” and that I can dig.

    What sets my inner anxiety off is the “Run a marathon NOW!” approach. Do I want to be the BIGGEST in the WORLD?! TOMORROW?

    Er, no. As much as the money would be nice I probably couldn’t handle it mentally. I know this works for some people, but I prefer to be made to feel safe first. I push myself far too hard as it is, so having a salesperson with a bullwhip never appeals. I hate being made to feel as though I’m a failure if I don’t sign up for something, or that I’m somehow not intelligent enough to make my own decisions. I like to be inspired, not forced.

  8. Grace
    May 12, 2011 | 11:16 am

    If someone talks down to me in their marketing … then I assume they’re going to talk down to me in their product or service, and I go elsewhere.

    I’m reminded of a wonderful jewelry store I used to patronize when I still lived in New Jersey. No matter how I was dressed when I went in – and it was usually jeans and a T-shirt – they always made me feel like I could afford anything in the store.

    When I write tiered offers (and I try to do that as much as I can), it’s specifically so that I can give people help at all levels. Whether it’s because someone already knows about what I’m wanting to teach and they just need an overview, or because someone’s just starting out and wants (or prefers) to do it on their own as much as possible instead of paying for lots of help – I want to give them what THEY want. So for me, having been at every point on the scale, I can write my offers to that experience.

    And that is – to me – all it takes, really: put yourself there, to the person who wants that level, and write to that person.

  9. Wulfie
    May 12, 2011 | 12:59 pm

    I am so loving these vlogs. It’s awesome to see you and helps me feel more connected to a real person. Plus, you’re adorable and animated, which really helps get your message across.

    Second, it’s terrific to be rapping about these subjects. As a relative newbie to creating, starting and running an on-line business I often feel talked down to. I’m already anxious because I’m doing something new and scary. I don’t need to feel, as @Suzanne put it, sucktastic. I already feel that way because there’s so much I have to learn.

    I’m tired of being made to feel like I’m a loser, always going to be a loser, and should give up trying UNLESS I opt in for that special deal created just for other losers like me. What?!

    One of the biggest things I want from sellers (who are teachers btw) is to feel supported, guided and as if they actually care about what they’re offering and how it will work for me. If I get the vibe that people are just making shit up to sell a product, I’m not interested. That’s just making a buck. I want to know that the person loves doing their thing, loves sharing it and wants us BOTH to benefit from it…no matter what the price is.

  10. amy t schubert
    May 12, 2011 | 1:03 pm

    Amazing that people do this!
    I believe that marketing and sales really comes down to EXCELLENT customer service – really figuring out what your clients want and need and helping them find the best option.
    But to insult your clients like this?
    crazy….
    Thanks for posting this.
    -A

  11. Peggie
    May 12, 2011 | 1:13 pm

    Once upon a time I was taught by a person who teaches this type of marketing. It didn’t feel right then but I was “new” and needed the EXPERT wisdom. so I tried it (in my own words but more or less by the script) and I hated it. Oddly, I also didn’t really like the people I ended up working with. Because you know, we all started off judgey.

    Totally into the idea of showing value at the different price points in a way that resonates with all Perfect People for my business.

  12. Scott McDowell
    May 12, 2011 | 1:15 pm

    Not much to add to the conversation but loving it. ($.02=I like tiers if they’re done with the intention to serve.)

    With both this and the grenade post I’m left wishing I could see specific examples. Totally understand you not wanting to call people out but… why not call people out? 😉

    Keep it up, Fabeku!

  13. Pam
    May 12, 2011 | 2:01 pm

    I hate this ploy, and I’ve come across it a LOT.
    I am not in business for myself… I have absolutely NO interest (right this minute) in having my own business, but I am interested in improving things in my life and learning and growing and developing for my own personal reasons. Recently I came across a pitch that seemed to insinuate the choosing to work for someone else’s business, to be an employee, was somehow shameful and not living up to potential. I was ABSOLUTELY insulted with the premise that the only way to really make a difference in the world is to own your own business… and to further add insult to assume that if you did want to start your own business you had to want to invest the most in it or you weren’t seriously committed??? OMG.
    The most recent situation happened when I was down in DisneyWorld with my kids… the Disney Vacation Club salesman took one look at me (an obviously SINGLE PARENT with no man to support her and her children) and made an assumption of my ability to buy what he was supposed to be offering. Instead of taking the time to show me the whole package deal and letting ME decide if it was something that I could afford AND want, he assumed that I could not afford this even if I might want it, and didn’t bother to get to know me or my situation.
    If he had bothered to get to know me he would have learned that the reason it took me 3 years of planning to get there wasn’t financial (or not all of it), that my sitatuion was much more complex than just my marital status. If he had taken the time to learn that I have practically $0 in debt (other than my house), I own my own house (on my own) which I pay for, and the primary reason for the delay was teaching my CHILDREN to save and working out the LEGAL issues, not that I couldn’t afford it… well… maybe I would have bought into the plan…
    Being HUMILIATED by this man (thankfully not in front of anyone else) ensured that I would NOT buy into what he was selling…

  14. Fabeku
    May 12, 2011 | 2:16 pm

    @DickEggsactly! This is a perfect example of why looking down on your customers sucks.

    If you sell X + Y + Z, then all three choices should be valid options for your customers.

    Thumbing your nose at a customer who picks X? Dumb. And bad business. And, really, pretty ridiculous. Mary clearly had the right idea.

    @Chris – It is a big turn off, isn’t it?

    It’s obvious why people use this approach. Trying to get twisty with someone so they pick the higher tier (or whatever the choice is). But it seems like a totally crazy way to get someone there.

    And your elements of effective marketing?

    Right on.

    And clearly you’re rocking the Casbah. So you know what you’re talking about.

    @Mark – I love that you took time to find a way that works for everybody. That feels totally right on to me.

    A lot of the gross marketing stuff seems really one sided. The win lands on the side of the person selling. But what about the people buying? The people with the problem? The ones trusting and spending money and investing in something?

    Figuring out a win for everyone is awesome.

    I also agree totally about the time + energy it takes to craft an offer. Some of the twisty stuff is easier to fall back on. It takes a lot less thinking + feeling + listening. But that’s probably why it also feels like it totally lacks a foundation + why it doesn’t support lasting relationships.

    And I loved what you said about how it’s more profitable for you to have people purchasing at every level. Would you mind talking a little more about this, if you have the time?

    @Andrea – I totally get what you mean about the commitment-to-yourself thing. That’s super important.

    I hit that point too. And, like you said, it was when my Thing was little + not really a business. That’s interesting, isn’t it?

    Now I look at stuff through a really different lens. And when I chit chat with my business about this product or that thing, most of the time my business says, no thanks.

    Not because whatever it is sucks. But because the energy is better spent somewhere else.

    As our business grows + deepens, we get a lot more discernment about things, don’t we? It’s kind of fabulous.

    @Barb – I love that you know what works for you + how you want to rock it.

    That’s 100% pure awesome.

    It’s really easy to get caught up in the play-a-bigger-game thing. And if that’s what you want to do, then go for it. But to not want that, and to feel the constant push that direction… oy. Not fun.

    And I’m totally with you on the approach. Why not assume wholeness + awesomeness and go from there?

    @Suzanne – Yep. There’s so much bullshit hype that leaves you feeling like you’ll totally fail if you don’t fork out big piles of cash for someone’s Shiny New Thing.

    There’s plenty of valuable stuff out there. But there are very few things that are really make-it-or-break-it.

    That’s just more of that emotional extortion. Which sucks hard.

    @Joely – I hear you. Staying in front of your people is one thing. But the deluge? Ew. That’s something else altogether. Something totally ack.

    “Inspired. Not forced.” That really says it all doesn’t it? You’ve summed it up beautifully.

    Inspired seems like a bigger win for everybody anyway. People who really dig the Thing, buy the Thing. And the person who’s selling the Thing ends up with people who are there because they’re totally digging it.

    If you have to force someone to buy your Thing, something’s wrong.

    @Grace – Oooh. Good point about the carryover between the marketing + the product/service.

    And two thumbs way up to that jewelry store. That’s how to rock it. And that’s how to create a vibe where people want to keep coming back.

    I think tiers are great. I’m all for them. Especially when they’re approached the way you + Mark + Scott talk about it.)

    I just think it sucks when someone offers tiers + uses swim-with-da-fishes tactics to try to twist people into the highest tier.

    @Wulfie – Glad you’re digging them. Thanks for saying so.

    It’s totally scary. Especially when you’re just starting out. I remember feeling like there were a bazillion variables and I could barely keep up.

    A lot of the twisty marketing plays on that. The fear. The newness. The scary. And the feeling that you’ll be a loser if you don’t opt in to whatever’s being sold.

    And the caring-how-it-will-work-for-you thing is big.

    One of the coolest things I’ve seen is how Mark always has the option to get in touch + ask him a question if you’re not sure whether a class or product or whatever is a good fit.

    He leaves room for that. And he’s obviously the kind of person who will answer honestly. He won’t say, this is a great fit! when it wouldn’t be.

    Not only does that scream integrity, but it also shows extraordinary confidence. Confidence in what he’s doing and what he’s offering. And confidence in his audience to make the right choice.

    We need more of that.

    @Amy – Helping them find the best option. Yesyesyes. Totally agree.

    And the insulting thing does seem nuts, doesn’t it?

    Except I’m betting that most people who do this don’t really see it as insulting. They probably see it as motivating. Or encouraging. Or (fill-in-the-blank).

    And maybe they’re doing that because they really think that higher priced option has the most value.

    But if they’d stand back and look at how that would land if they were on the receiving end, they might see where it gets insulting.

    To me, it just looks like a bad plan all around.

    @Peggie – It’s easy to fall into this stuff. Whether this stuff is ,i>swim-with-da-fishes stuff. Or concussion grenade marketing stuff. Or other twisty marketing stuff.

    I’ve gotten caught in that before. And when I look back at the why, it’s been a mix of not knowing other options + fear.

    What you said about not really digging the people who showed up through the didn’t-feel-right stuff makes total sense to me.

    When we market in ways that feel blech, it’s impossible to find folks who don’t feel blech.

    That’s why I feel so strong about doing it in ways that fire you up + feel right. It may take a little more work, but, ohmygawd, it’s so worth it, isn’t it?

    @Scott – I’m with you on the tiers thing. I don’t there’s anything wrong with them at all. It just depends on how they’re presented.

    As for the calling-people-out thing…

    That’s a totally legit question. There are a few reasons I don’t do it.

    1. I don’t have x-ray vision + can’t secretly peek inside someone’s head + heart. I can’t really know why they’re doing what they’re doing. So to call them out or label them or point fingers crosses a line for me. Because I’m assigning motivation + intention when I can’t really know that. I’m not Miss Cleo, you know?

    2. I also know some genuinely good, well-meaning people who fall into these traps. People who are doing good stuff in the world + offering things are real value. They resort to these marketing tactics for all kinds of reasons. But not because they’re gross people. So calling them out doesn’t make sense to me.

    3. My focus is on tactics. Not people. And it has been from the start. Mostly because of what I spelled out in #1 + #2. There’s a lot of room to have a productive discussion when we talk about tactics. But when that shifts to talking about people, things get muddy. And it’s way easier to derail the discussion. I think this topic is way too important to let it get derailed.

    The tactics I’ve talked about the last couple of videos are pretty common. It’s not too hard to find examples out there, really.

    @Pam – I’ve seen that if-you’re-not-self-employed-then-you-suck idea a lot. Almost always perpetuated by self-employed people.

    Of course I think it’s total bullshit. And completely condescending.

    Everyone’s different. And being self-employed isn’t the best option for everybody. It seems totally silly to act like it is.

    My wife works for someone else. And she loves her job. She has a fabulous boss. She gets to use all of her superpowers every single day. She is recognized for her magics. She digs going to work everyday. She’s all about it. It’s what works for her.

    I do better working for myself. That works for me. There’s room for all of it.

    The experience you had at Disney World? Totally made me cringe.

    Awful. And horrible. And wrong.

    I’ve seen similar stuff happen. Different circumstances. But the same underlying thing. And it’s totally gross. I’m sorry you went through that.

    I say two thumbs <>way up for learning + developing for whatever reasons work for you. Personally. Professionally. It’s all good. It all matters.

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