After a hard day of work, I saddled up to the table last night, delighted.  My husband had prepared a nice dinner for our family. Our dining room has a window facing to the street. As we looked out into the grey, calm evening, we could see children playing and people walking their dogs.  I suddenly noticed a very tall, perky, smiling, canvassing, door-to-door marketer in a green jacket. 

Digging in to my lasagna, I said, "Man! Why do they always come around at dinner time?!"  My husband replied "Are you seriously asking that question?"   He was right. I know better.

Feeling uneasy, we began eating.  We watched as the "Perkiteer" reached our next-door, spanish speaking neighbor.  Her visit was predictably short.  She bounded down the driveway and turned for our house with a determined gleam in her eye.

As she passed by our dining room window, she looked directly into the window at us - clearly gathered around our meal. 

"You don't think she'll actually come to our door now, do you?"  still knowing better.  "Naaaw!" said my husband, sarcastically.   "I'm not answering it!!" I said, knowing I would, anyway.  We heard her feet on the stoop, and the knocking began. Our lab began barking hysterically, and the interruption was complete. I threw down my napkin and said "I'll handle it."

I opened the door to her smiling face.  "Hi! I'm KAYLA with TRU GREEN Lawncare and I..."  I interrupted politely, "I'm sorry, Kayla. As you can see, we are in the middle of our dinner."  Kayla frowned, hopeful "I'm sorry, I just wanted to..."  I interrupted again  "I'm sorry Kayla. We're in the middle of dinner. This is not a good time for us.  Have a good night."  Kayla rebounded, fervent in her approach "But, can I just give you a flyer?"  she said, desperately.  I sighed, "Sure, give me a flyer." She handed me a very large door hanger signed with her name and said to call her if we needed anything. I didn't thank her. I just said, "Goodbye Kayla." She went on, undeterred, to knock insistantly at more doors, at dinner time on a Thursday evening.

Staring briefly at the oversized door hanger in my hands, I ripped it into four pieces.  I sat down at the table, bristling. This wasn't really about Kalya. She was sort of cute and endearing.  It wasn't that it hasn't happened before.  My anger stemmed over the fact that this was simply stupid marketing.  It is simply astonishing how many companies do equivocably, the same thing: Irritate people, interrupt family or personal time, spoil dinner and then ask for our money!

"This is not even good marketing" I remarked to my husband, It's ME keting!"  Together, we worked up a definition of the MEketer: 
  • MEketers love interruptive, pushy tactics
  • MEketers are ego-driven, believing people should want to listen, just because they are a brand
  • MEketers are more concerned with delivering messages than building relationships
  • MEketers fail to demonstrate care or regard for people because they view them as a means to an end
  • MEketers often believe success is driven by working "more"  - not working "smarter"
  • MEketers favor tenacity over common sense
  • MEketers love the cookie cutters - They are formulaic marketers - doing everything the same way, every time.
Kayla chose to rudely interrupt us, and TruGreen lost a potential customer. If she'd gently left a door hanger with a personalized note, and returned at a later time, we would have talked with her.  Imagine this greetingL

Hi!  I didn't want to interrupt your nice family dinner!  I'll come back at another time!  Best, Kayla 
Unfortunately, Kayla had been schooled well in MEketeering.  Sadly, as more doors are slammed in her face, I can see her young optimism and perkiness eroding quickly.  Looking ahead, poor Kayla just may become casualty of lazy, old school training, resigning her green jacket for a fast food uniform.

As I've repeatedly mentioned in my blog posts, the old tactics don't work in the new economy. Marketing has fundamentally shifted:

The companies that really understand this shift will change their tactics to demonstrate genuine care and regard for people, devise out of the box methods for reaching people and building affinity, leverage new channels and tools to bolster service, and close deals by demonstrating respect, value and trustworthiness.

Companies of all shapes and sizes - especially those with a local presence:  Use your noggins!  Be people-centric. Celebrate your customers as they celebrate your products and service.  Get yourself on local, review driven sites like Angie's List and encourage customers to review your service or products!  Use Facebook to create a solid local network, bound by relationship.  Do something to improve a neighborhood, shout about it online and through traditional media.  Be authentically good!  And, if you go door-to-door, do it with respect and politeness, and in a sensible referral driven manner.  Demonstrate care for people, tell a compelling story and don't push too hard.  It's good business, and it's about time.  You can't afford NOT to make the shift in this tough economy!


Jeff Ogden said...

Love this blog article because I can see my wife and me in this same situation. The knock on the door at dinnertime. It's the worst of old school marketing.

Edelman Trust Factor survey found #1 factor today was open and honest communication. Build a network of trust.

Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor
Find New Customers

Leigh Durst said...


I'd be DELIGHTED if companies would embrace the idea of building a network of trust...

If they can't get that right, I'd certainly be CONTENT if they'd exercise some common sense! :-)

Thanks for your comment!


MSR Consulting said...

Love the article. The only comment I'd add is that it's not really fair to say old school marketing doesn't work. If it didn't work, little miss Kayla wouldn't be knocking on your door, and TruGreen wouldn't be reading this post thinking how naive you are (and you obviously are not). But if we make a blanket statement about "this works" and "this doesn't" it opens the door for these old school marketers to think that we just don't get it.

It's not about old school marketing not working, it's about it being *stupid*. Harsh word right? What they need to understand is that you aren't telling them they aren't seeing any return on their efforts, because they are, you're telling them they are being stupid because they could be seeing so much *higher* returns.

Keep up the good fight.

Leigh Durst said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leigh Durst said...

@MSR Consulting!

Thanks for the compliment and your comment... I think the point about STUPID MARKETING was my first point... going on to assert that MEKETEEERING is especially stupid in new channels. Only I didn't use a new channel example (See next post on CMOJOE and DM SPAM, though, for a decent one!)

Post a Comment





TwitterLinkedInYouTubePosterousFacebook G+

Live Path Experience Architect Feed


I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.


The Customer Experience Edge


Age of Conversation 3 - Get yours now in hardcover, paperback and for the Kindle.


Web Redesign: Workflow that Works