But is it marketing?
Getting useless messages and marketing calls on mobile phones is perhaps a scourge of the times we live in. People are desperately trying to sell property, medicines to reduce your weight, services such as getting tattoos, haircuts and combinations of sun glasses and other junk for Rs 2390 though it was supposedly priced at Rs 16,000. E-mails and SMS messages tell you daily that you have won some lottery or the other, and there is an offer or two from someone in Africa who wants your money to transfer his wealth to India. The creativity of messages and their volumes just keeps on increasing.
Start-ups too fall in this trap. Hardly a day passes when some new venture does not try to catch your attention through ads or download their app. What they forget is that apps are downloaded if they are of help to a person in doing a task. Few people will download an app just for the sake of getting an app free. Marketing of websites and apps should be on the basis of just one platform: “Does it help solve a problem for a consumer?” If not, no amount of spamming people is likely to help.
Sometimes I open the spam folder of my e-mail and find that it has over 1000 messages. Apart from the usual junk, a site from which I bought something a few years ago is faithfully sending me messages every single day, along with other astrology forecasts and other mail that is deleted automatically after some days.
The process tries to gain some respectability by calling itself “SMS Marketing,” “E-mail marketing” or “tele-marketing.” I always wonder whether it is marketing at all.
I mean, it is OK if people want more hits on their websites, more likes on the social media pages and more downloads of their apps on your smart-phones. But can this constant bombarding of messages be termed as marketing at all?
If one goes by the basic definition of marketing that all young MBAs learn, marketing implies discovering and satisfying human needs. Clogging cell phones and e-mails with useless messages certainly does not fall in any category of needs. By attaching the word “marketing” to these desperate selling measures, people hope to gain respectability where there is none. At best, these messages are attempts to deceive people into buying something that they don’t care about.
If you have ever given your mobile number to a bank or insurance company, chances are that your number is on a database that is being sold to all kinds of people to send messages to you or call you for some “marketing.” The economics works like this: sending bulk SMS or e-mail is extremely cheap. So out of the lakhs of messages sent everyday, even if one person responds, the “marketer” makes a profit. It would appear, for instance, that there are at least a few gullible people who would like to believe that they have won the lottery without buying a ticket, or that they are lucky to buy something for 1/8th of its original price. When that happens, the message sender makes a profit. The SMS and e-mail campaigns thus depend on huge volumes because the number of gullible people who respond are in a minority.
Though the telecom regulator is trying to control these pesky messages, they are unlikely to go away. They will decrease only when the cost of sending bulk SMS and of making telephone calls increases.
Then there are legitimate businesses like online portals from which you may have purchased something some time back. Is it justified that they should send a message or two everyday to your registered e-mail or mobile number? This may be called “reminder advertising” but sounds more like desperation to get you to buy more things.
In these technologically advanced times, sending bulk messages to all and sundry merely ends up irritating people. Today technologies are available where consumer preferences and habits can be mapped. If, on the basis of this, targeted messages are sent to help people make decisions and buy, it would come near to the concept of marketing. On the other hand, sending messages everyday, blindly hoping someone will bite the bait, is likely to turn legitimate customers away.
That is why I think that sending messages blindly in large quantities should be dubbed “SMS desperation,” “app desperation” or “E-mail desperation.” It is certainly not marketing. Start-ups would do well to garner business rather than try to get people like them.
pic source :freepik