What is this approach to marketing?

Fri, Jul 22, 2022 6-minute read

I am not a marketing expert. Or even a marketing, um, “average”. I’m not a marketing person at all.

Well not willingly. Or knowingly. Or acceptingly.

I mean, I’ve done some… sales… in my life. Bits and bobs… this and that. Made some cash along the way. Mostly through honesty and doing what I said and just delivering stuff.

But. I am a consumer. In fact, my approach to sales and marketing is almost entirely predicated on the experiences I’ve had as a victim of marketing techniques; I know full well what annoys me and so my approach to sales and marketing is mostly just endeavouring to not repeat those same mistakes and do stuff that I know would annoy me. Simplistic.

But I now find myself now wondering how on earth, what must be well-established marketing techniques, EVER work?

Case study

(TL;DR - I needed blinds. I’d previously used a blind company. And then forgotten about them. Keep that in mind.)

I recently had to buy some - window blinds. Not exactly rock and roll but, a part of life.

(It’s for the home office I’ve built, which I will one day blog about.)

I’ll sheepishly admit that my first, lazy, approach was to go to Amazon. I’ve used their blinds in the past and they are… functional. Ish. I guess.

However, not really what I wanted for my new office.

But then I was reminded about a company called Blinds Direct. (No link - intentional.)

My wife told me that my brother-in-law had used them for blinds for what turned out to be pretty much exactly my needs - and he was pretty happy with them.

And I was like - ‘oh yeah! 🤦’ - for this was the very company I’d used previously for when we needed a window blind in the kitchen about a year previously.

So - 12th July 2022, I ordered some blinds. And, FTR, fast forward a week - they arrived, they fitted, I’m happy with the blinds. This is not a story about bad blinds or service.

This is a story about marketing purgatory. SO rewind to a little less than a week to the day after I’d ordered the blinds - to the 13th July 2022.

The order is in, with fast track processing and express delivery paid for. I’m awaiting dispatch.

And then the emails start. And they really start.


The first email offering me 30% off. I’ve just put in a large order and now they email offering 30% off. They then double down on this with various other enticements, free delivery, % off and so on. The emails flow. Relentlessly.

What is the thinking here?

Trying to be objective about this, what, genuinely, is the marketing strategy here?

In view of the fact that the type of purchasers of window blinds are likely to be

  • Highly targeted, and
  • On demand / as needed
  • what is the likelihood that someone who has just placed a sizeable order for window blinds is going to think

“Well, heck, I’ve just ordered what I needed -at full price- but since you’re offering discounts, I’m just gonna order a bunch more”

Are there people out there gaming it as they know the discounts are coming, so they place a small order, only to then place the main order when the discount arrives and capitalise?

(If there are people like that then good luck to them. I haven’t the time for that.)


Unfortunately what the immediate deluge of desperate marketing spam says to me is - we want to sell you anything and everything and all costs and all of our brand values that we sell on the website are completely secondary to that primary objective.

It also tells me that I’ve paid full price like a chump because they immediately offered me 30% off anything else. (Including the same things I’d just ordered.)

And that, of course, is not particularly surprising. They are a company trying to sell things and they want to sell as much as possible.

Except, of course, when you remember one of the original statements of this piece:

I have previously ordered from this company

I have previously used them. I had had a good experience then insofar as the product arrived and it did what I wanted.

But it took someone else to remind me about this business in order for me to use them again. I had apparently forgotten all about them to the extent that it didn’t even occur to me that they were an option.

That must mean that customer loyalty, or brand loyalty, or customer retention, and/or some other exciting marketing buzzwords I have no doubt exist - is completely non-existent?

That can’t be good?

But why?

My suspicion is that when I ordered the first time, this exact same thing happened then - they put me on this very same ’new customer maximisation’ sales workflow, or similar, and I got annoyed with it then to the extent that I unsubscribed and blocked them from consciousness.

Which must be really quite annoying as their products are good (… good enough.)

But my bet is their aggressive marketing practices burnt my relationship with them.

I don’t know how many others may feel the same way.

Who cares

At Cortex we’re going through various processes of launching products and services. We’ve got some well-established things and some coming things and so this ’new customer psychology’ stuff is very interesting and relevant to us.

So this experience is very confusing. It has all the hallmarks of the evil bullshit we despise - and yet, does it work? Could a company like this really pursue this strategic approach if it… didn’t work?

Is this a tried and tested technique? Or is it just literally… hit and hope… spray and pray… maybe if just a few % of it hits then they’re quids in?

But at what cost?


It is the absolute antithesis of our approach. We’re trying to build useful stuff that people want to buy.

The sales approach is very simple - if the thing is useful to you, well, you’ll buy it. If it’s not useful, you won’t buy it.

No harm, no foul, we’re all good.

So the question is whether that approach can survive in a market swamped by ’the techniques.’

We’re not marketing experts. But we know enough to not do tricky bullshit that will most likely annoy our customers.

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