After I wrote about how you could not find Google Adwords results for “best (x) in the world”, I went and tried the Adwords registration process myself. I found that I could not use “best” in my own ad because comparatives are not allowed unless from a third party. I COULD choose “world’s best copywriter” as a search phrase, but Google warned me my results would be so low that a CPC could not be calculated. That was around March 12.
But as of today (4/19/06), something’s changed. If you look up “best copywriter in the world” you will find lots of sidebar ads. 8 on each of the first two pages, 2 on the third page. I don’t actually think that all those people got the idea from my blog. More likely something has changed in the bowels of Google.
But I’ll stand with my original thought: nobody wants to hear you talk about how great you are, and the folks who do happen to click on these ads are not going to turn into leads. Let’s watch and see what happens over time…
I was recently a victim of identity theft. First, my credit card company called me wondering why I had been charging so much at walmart.com. When I said I hadn’t used my walmart.com account since 2004 (which I know because I keep all my old emails), they suggested somebody had gotten hold of my credit card info and suggested I cancel my account and get a new card. Which I did.
Then, a few days later, another call. Had I changed my billing address to somewhere in Arizona? No, I hadn’t, and the ability to do so meant that somebody had hacked my online account with the bank in a major way. This set off alarm bells requiring cancellation of the new card, plus alerts to the credit reporting bureaus of which maybe the worse repercussion for me, as a marketer, is that I am automatically removed from credit card solicitation lists for the next 5 years. (No more Capital One swipe samples for me!)
I thought the whole matter was handled just about right by CitiBank. They were efficient, not accusatory, and the paperwork required (two notarized statements from me) was tedious but reasonable under the circumstances. That got me thinking about what is the right balance between companies protecting themselves and providing benefits to consumers.
A serious lack of such balance was exhibited in my first purchase recently of a “digital edition” from Amazon. It came with onerous digital rights management (DRM) protection that requires me to go through a complex registration process, where I sign in with Adobe online, simply to be able to read the document I have paid for on my computer. It simply ain’t worth it, folks. I asked for my money back. Their rights are protected but they lose a sale. Good deal? Not for me, not for the publisher, certainly not for the author who probably has no idea this is going on.
Back in my “suit” days, I had a client who asked me if it would be a good idea to sign up with a bad check protection service which would make good any bogus paper in return for a 1.5 percent commission on ALL checks received. Sounded somewhat plausible until we did the math and found that the bad check problem was actually costing considerably less than 1.5% of sales.
People who make their living trying to cheat other people and businesses will probably find a way to do so, at least some of the time. A business needs to find a balance where it makes things somewhat more difficult for the bad guys without penalizing the average customer with unreasonable security measures. This is the same logic that applies when we talk to our clients about money-back guaranteed, isn’t it?
A money back guarantee, especially on a mail order or internet purchase, answers the big objection “what if I get it and I don’t like it after I see it?” Marketers who are reluctant to make guarantees are afraid that somebody is going to take advantage of them. But the bad guys will anyway… and meanwhile they’ve scared off a lot of potential customers who were on the fence.