How Not to Upsell your Product – or How WHSmiths and Waterstones degrade their brand

Recently I bought a great book on human behaviour and how to gently influence people from Waterstones book shop, called Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein (a middle initial always makes you seem more authoritative). It looks to be a cool book, but what I most remember about the encounter is the interaction with the person handling my sale.

After they took my order they asked me if I wanted to buy from a stack of books on the counter. I didn’t get the name of the book, but it had a soft, gentle, pastel cover with flowers and a stylised image of a young girl. The writer was female and the book cover evoked a feeling of walking through tall wheat with Keira Knightly, whilst bees went about their gentle work. Not the kind of book I would ever be interested in.

There is an internet marketing point in here, just hang on a minute. I’m creating a parallel narrative.

I looked at the sales person and saw the fear in her eyes. The fear that said, “If I don’t offer you this book, my management speaking-well groomed boss will sack me.”

Would Waterstones really sack a member of staff because they didn’t try to get me to buy “chicklit”?

Who knows, but you do see a dribble of humanity leave a member of staffs body each time this poor attempt at upsell happens. Which leaves a stain on the floor behind the counter.

The internet marketing point of this article is about the upsell. It is an incredibly powerful and profitable way to get sales. But the way WH Smith – who seem to think that stuffing chocolate down the gobs of the British Public is somehow going to lead us to spiritual enlightenment – employ the upsell is atrocious and leaves me lamenting the humiliation of their staff.

When you buy something online, you are in the mood, in the zone for other stuff that solves the same or similar problem that is on your mind, so if you buy an ebook on linkbuilding it makes perfect sense to upsell to a link building tool or offer link building services.

Of course, WH Smiths and Waterstones may have conducted studies that 5% of people when buying a copy of Top Gear will also buy a huge bar of Galaxy chocolate. Thus increasing profits.

But what about the 95% who don’t buy?

What if someone blogs about this fact?

What if that blogger, also tweets about it.

What if a journalist reads that blog and decides to rip off the writer and give no atributation and rewrite the article as their own, (surely journalists would never do such an unethical thing) and publish it in their widely read Sunday Paper column which they later turn into a book which ends up at WHSmith and when you try to buy it you also get offered a huge bar of Galaxy chocolate?

There is another direction I could go with this about cheapening a brand, but I have a new chicklit novel to read whilst eating a huge bar of Galaxy chocolate.

Gonzo SEO

I hate aspiring writers who bang on about HST as if invoking the name of Mr Thompson will somehow make them writerly Gods.

Take your heroes, burn them. Then spread the ashes on your toast as you wait for you latest bittorrent of Manga to download.

However, for those who know what gonzo journalism is – and if you don’t know, you need to read more – need to look at that writerly style and apply it to their blogging style. The reason being is that the words of a gonzo tracht do not fit comfortably into the nicely shaped holes that await information. The words and thoughts and ideas and feelings tend to scrape the sides and ruin the pristine condition that the grammar nazis like to keep their information brain holes in.

When you scrape the edges of someones mind you make them sit up and think, question, change emotion. When that happens the reader has been softened, sweetened, seduced for any kind of message you want to.

This is not new, it’s ancient. And don’t think that moist inducing companies like Apple and Google do not employ such tactics constantly. They are steeped in the dark arts of black ops marketing technique and will shaft you deep into the softer parts of your mind to get their message in.

Have I broken my own rule by invoking the “HST” bomb and then saying not to.

Of course I have.

The first rule of gonzo blogging is there are no rules.

Garden Cabins go Mental on Adsense

Sometimes I wonder why people go nuts buying Adsense ads when there are far more effective ways to market your website. Showing me the same ad over and over makes little sense, especially when I am not interested in buying.

So it is with Dunster House Log Cabins. I include a bit of adsense here to see if it does pop up.


Of course, you may not be seeing the advert as it will be Geo targeted, plus if you are reading this in 2065, the advert may have stopped running. But I am sure you have seen certain adverts pop up again and again, as if someone spilt their coffee whilst pressing the buy button and missed a few decimal places.

Update:
Yes, the cabin ad came up, but looking at the ad from the front of the blog came up with something else. Interesting.

Greek Coffee Fused with SEO Twitter Streams

An SEO should always travel. Even if just to load up the Google front page and view how the foreigners search for stuff. As I sit with salt baked onto my skin whilst I sip the surprisingly good, sludgy, Greek coffee, I think about the bubbles we exist in.

How different people, who speak different languages, have different alphabets and different ways of eating, defecating, picking their nose and bribing the local official.

It’s all different.

Those who can understand the differences, both subtle and major win.

Those who don’t, stay in their bubble being big fish in an eggcup full of water.

You see that a lot in the Asperger-flicted seo space. Guys (and it invariably is guys) who like to learn a lot of over complicated, ultimately useless information who like to bamboozle noobs and spread confusion of the Twitter feeds like a drunken spider on it’s way to the taverna.

And of course those who treat “the game” like a business, rather than a private/public wank are those who tend to to step out of the bubble and discover pastures green, with trees weighed down with over ripened fruit just waiting to be plucked.

Twitter aids in our process of being able to identify those who are simply gobbing off and are full of fecal matter.

I’m as guilty of turning my twitter stream into a lumpy/liquid stream of shit as is the next man. But I do like to think I throw the odd gem in every know and again.

My favourite usage of Twitter is that of a bullshit detection tool.

Those who tweet all day may not be doing it because they are crapola at “the game”, but because the stream of digital communication provides a warm electronic blanket they can wrap around themselves to fill the gaps in their souls.

Those who leave week long gaps in their stream are not doing it because they overdosed on plain chocolate McVities Digestives and Vimto and have nothing to say. But because they are getting on with business, building their empire.

An Empire not built on the sand of Facebook, as I talked about recently, but on a solid foundation of a list of prospective punters – on blogs and websites which they own. Not owned by some twatty American corporation that has delusions that it more important than a tub of Chunky Monkey.

Own it, don’t rent it.