The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Insult your prospective customer. Okay, how’s that working for you?

Two spam companies left messages yesterday that were immediately deposited in the neighborhood’s communal outhouse (“Sit a Spell – Assholes Welcome”) because the robot authors thought an insult would get my attention.

They said: “I see that your blog really needs some fresh articles.”

Then they tried a little sentimentality: “I know it’s really hard coming up with fresh material every day when you’re busy changing the litter box, mowing the yard, saving the world, or whatever it is that keeps you from posting stuff that won’t attract any more spam from me.”

Basically, they wanted to sign me up for curated crap from the communal outhouse. They didn’t put it quite that way even though their opening lines made me suspect they didn’t have the sense God gave a goat.

When a woman walks into a beauty parlor in a movie and the first line she hears is, “Lord have mercy, honey, your need a lot of help,” the theater audience laughs.

In real life, that pick-up line probably doesn’t work so well even though the first thing a business (or a spammer) needs to do is get the prospective sucker’s attention. According to the old AIDA model, the seller needs to remember Attention – Interest – Desire – Action.

It’s always a good idea to know your potential customer so that you have a clue, for example, whether they’re turned on by insults. If not, you’re not even going to get to the Interest part of the advertising model, much less Desire.

But seriously, spam-breath, are you getting any action?

I’m not really cut out to go into the spam biz, but I still have a word of advice: If you’re going to start off with an insult, read some of Don Rickles’ best lines because they were intended as comedy rather than real putdowns:

  • “Oh my God, look at you. Anyone else hurt in the accident?”
  • “You were my idol when I was a kid. I was getting shock treatments at the time.”
  •  “Who picks your clothes – Stevie Wonder?”

Or, perhaps success in the spam business needs a touch of Jack E. Leonard, master of insult comedy: “There’s nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won’t cure.”

If it’s a true mean streak you’re going for, listen to Joan Rivers for a few hours: “If Kate Winslet had dropped a few pounds, the Titanic would never have sunk” and “Elizabeth Taylor fat? Her favorite food is seconds.”

Or Mae West: “His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.”

As a last resort, Google the words “insult comedy,” and you’ll find enough stuff to make your spam so hot that customers will sign up with your services just to make it stop.

Until then, my town’s communal outhouse always has room for more.








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8 thoughts on “Insult your prospective customer. Okay, how’s that working for you?

  1. I always keep my trigger finger on the “delete” key.

  2. This, exactly! That “hard sell” tactic is a major pet peeve of mine and guaranteed to get a “no” from me. Reminds me of the time Caleb was two and Isaac was a colicky newborn and I had to run to the store for something late at night and a woman came up to me and said, “Oh, I would LOVE to give you a makeover! I sell Mary Kay-” Seriously? This is how you get customers? Or the time an acquaintance wanted us to invest in his new business when anyone with an ounce of sense knew it wasn’t going to succeed. When we refused he said, “Well, if you ever want to get financially smart, give me a call.” He went bankrupt a year later and I had to nearly block Donny from the phone so he wouldn’t call the guy and say, “Hey, how’s that financial smartness working out for you?”

    • If I were Donny, I would have snuck out at night and used a pay phone. Another pet peeve of mine was the “Amway Ambush.” A couple of friends invite the spouse and I over for dinner. About half way through the mashed potatoes, one of them asks, “So, Malcolm, tell me about your long-term financial plans for a secure future.” Crap, they wanted to sign me up to sell Amway products, but didn’t trust their products enough to tell me that’s why they invited us over to their house for what was supposed to be a social call. But wow, that doesn’t come close to competing with those who tell me I need a free makeover.

      • We’ve had the Amway one, too – same tactic, so it must be in their training materials. They tried the angle of, “Donny, I know you work on computers, so it’d be easy for you to build up a network.” He was speechless for a minute before saying, “That’s…not…what I do…on computers.” I nearly laughed out loud. Yeah, that poor Mary Kay woman. I had a screaming infant slobbering all over my neck and a two year old grabbing things off shelves. I asked her if I really looked like I cared what shade my lips were at that moment. She retreated pretty quickly.

  3. You might have even scared that Mary Kay lady out of the business. The Ambush is (or at least, was) so standard, you’re right, it probably was in the training materials. We heard the computer thing, too. We had to say, well, we write custom software, something that was rather different from what the Ambush couples had in mind.

  4. One of my favorite comedic insults is a review: thank you for sending me your book. I’ll waste no time reading it.

    Even better (and one that today is so often true): this book fills a much-needed gap.

    • I remember seeing that insult years ago and was happy it had nothing to do with anything I wrote. I like the one that goes something like this: Every reporter has a novel inside him and that’s where it should stay.

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