Dirty Marketing

When someone boasts their book is a bestseller on Amazon.com, can you trust them? When someone brags that they’ve sold 10,000 copies in a month, are they being honest? When you type in a website URL and a competitors’ pop-up ad appears on your computer screen, do you assume they’re in business together? When someone says you’re winner, are they trying to fool you into spending money?

You’d be surprised how many people fall for this type of dirty marketing. Unfortunately, dishonest marketing is a temptation for many individuals and businesses. However, dirty marketing can and probably will ruin your reputation.

Once upon a time, an author tried to get her book listed on Booklocker.com by bragging that her title was an Amazon.com bestseller. I asked what she based her information on and she admitted that she’d purchased a program that taught her how to convince readers to buy her book during a pre-determined period of time, which bumped her book into the Amazon bestseller list, if only for a few hours.

I rejected her book and told her we don’t do business with people who create scenarios that enable them to portray their sales statistics in deceiptful ways. You know that if potential buyers knew the real story about how an author or publisher attained that status, they’d not buy the book. So, hiding the real facts behind the results of landing on a bestseller list is dirty marketing.

At Booklocker.com, we feature our bestsellers on the homepage. When we started publishing in print several years ago, we discovered that some authors were purchasing multiple copies of their own books in an attempt to bump their book onto our bestseller list. However, our bestseller list is automatically generated and is based on public sales on the website, not on direct sales to authors. We still receive emails from authors stating, “Well, I bought a bunch of copies of my own book but it’s still not on the bestseller list. How come?” Trying to manipulate a book’s standing on any bestseller list based on the number of copies the author or publisher has purchased of a book is dirty marketing.

There was a story in the front page of our local paper on Sunday about how L.L. Bean is suing Gator.com because it allows pop-ups for a competitor to appear on the computers of people who have downloaded Gator.com’s software and who are trying to pull up the L.L. Bean website. The problem is that some people click so fast when surfing online that they don’t realize they’ve downloaded this adware.

We were once contacted by a Booklocker.com author who was furious that “Booklocker.com kept inserting ads for one of its competitors” whenever he tried to view our site. He was trying to sell his book through Booklocker.com, yet was furious because he thought we were allowing a competitor to pay to advertise on our site, thus diverting traffic away from our authors. It took a few emails before he finally understood that he’d allowed another company to place adware on his computer, thus allowing pop-ups for that competitor to appear on his own computer whenever he accessed Booklocker.com. Placing adware on someone’s computer and obtaining their “consent” without their knowledge is dirty marketing.

My mother’s computer recently died. When she took it in, they found so much adware on her harddrive that they couldn’t believe her computer ran as long as it did. She’s had it in the shop so much now that she may need to just buy a new computer. Mom types extremely fast and when a box pops up on her screen, she would sometimes be typing and clicking so fast that she never even saw the box that popped up. Hey, that happens to me all the time, too. Unfortunately, her speedy fingers have now cost her several hundred dollars in computer repairs and will cost even more when she has to buy a brand new machine.

Have you ever seen a box pop up that tells you there’s something wrong with your computer and, only when you clicked on it did you learn that it was really an ad? That, too, is dirty marketing.

Do you sell your customers’ information to marketers? This is a tempting revenue possibility for some. But, believe me, if you’re sharing or selling your customers’ information, you ARE going to hear about it, and your customers WILL expose your dirty marketing! Whenever I stand in line at Toys R Us, I listen to every single customer in front of me willingly provide their phone number to the clerk. It makes me FURIOUS that they ask for this information! Here’s the kicker…one time, Frank (age 9 at the time), was standing in line by himself and the clerk asked him, a child, for his phone numnber! I’m pretty sure that collecting personal information from children for marketing purposes is illegal!! However, my children are smart and he refused to give it out, as I always do.

One clerk at Filene’s tried to tell me she couldn’t process my order without my phone number. When I raised my voice, her supervised quickly took over and processed my order. When the photo clerk at Walmart refused to take our children’s portrait after I refused to share their birthdates with their company, I yelled at her (made quite a scene, too!) and took the children to JC Penneys instead. No, you do NOT have to share unneccessary information with Dirty Marketers, but you can expose them, like I’m doing here.

One humorous thing to do when someone asks you for your phone number is to provide them with the phone number of your local better business bureau or state attorney general’s office. Heh…

It never ceases to amaze me how people can do business in these ways and still sleep at night! Basically, anything that fools someone into clicking or buying is DIRTY MARKETING! Please don’t allow yourself to be fooled into participating in this type of unethical activity, and don’t allow your book or writing service to be associated with any of these companies or website.

If you think customers and competitors aren’t looking for ways to expose dirty marketing, think again. Consumers and competitors are only too happy to expose the shenanigans of dirty marketers to the masses!

Another excellent page on dirty marketing can be found here: