If this essay helps you learn something or think about marketing and inclusivity differently, please consider sending a tip. I love writing about doing marketing differently, but spending my energy this way has real repercussions for my health and business.
I'm listening to an episode of a podcast about harmful selling, and I'm struck not for the first time about how different my view of things like funnels are from entrepreneurs who haven't necessarily done those things outside of the [online] entrepreneurship space.
When I learned funnels and marketing automation in the software space, it was so different from what we see in the online entrepreneurship space.
To the point what it was practically unrecognizable to me when I started my business.
(Some other time we can talk about the huuuuge eyeroll I did when it finally clicked to me that these elusive, sparkly "launches" everyone was talking about were literally. just. marketing campaigns.)
I think the main thing is that funnels outside of online entrepreneurship and infoproducts seem more focused on segmentation and guiding people to the right destination than "squeezing" and "pressuring," like the podcast talked about.
Like...it's a network of pneumatic tubes in a funnel formation more than just one path.
And it's not about the tools, it's about how you use them.
If you use them to pressure customers into buying things they don't need, that's one thing. But if you use them to guide customers to your guess of the best product for them, that's another.
For example, I don't believe countdown timers or DeadlineFunnels are inherently bad.
They're bad when you use them to lie and manufacture urgency rather than to call attention to urgency that's actually there.
Right before listening to this podcast, I created a countdown timer.
Why am I using that timer?
It's not to pressure someone into a sale or manipulate them.
It's to call attention and focus to the fact that I am ACTUALLY and IN REALITY closing enrollment to my membership so I can better focus on serving who's in there.
The urgency is found, not manufactured.
I also still use DeadlineFunnel, and believe me, I've thought about whether that's out of alignment with my values MANY times.
But each time, I keep coming back to HOW I use DeadlineFunnel.
I don't lie.
- I don't pretend a product is only available from the DeadlineFunnel link. I'm clear that the products are available in my product shop at any time.
- I don't pretend the promotion is a random launch they just happened to join my email list during. I'm clear that it's build into the opt-in mechanism.
- I don't stretch truths to increase FOMO. No copy like "this is the last time this will be offered" or "this offer's just for you" if it's not true.
- I don't use big distracting timers all over the page - just one next to each primary call-to-action as a real reminder to help people visualize the real urgency, since I'm a firsthand account of how necessary that is for some people.
- I don't use HUGE discounts or bonuses as big urgency - only 15% discounts on my lower priced products. The customer never has, like, 15 minutes to decide whether they want to save $500.
When I'm using them in evergreen funnels, I simply say something along the lines of...
"Hey, since you just joined my email list, we're new friends. And since I love making new friends, here's a coupon just for new friends. It's good for X days, and after that the product is available for full price on my website."
And when I use timers for other offers, they're there to subtly highlight real, found scarcity. Key words are subtly and real.
Simple and honest. What marketing should be.
And even automated or evergreen marketing can be that way.
On the other hand, just because something's not automated doesn't mean it's not high pressure or FOMO-inducing.
The biggest investment I've ever made in my business is also the worst investment I've ever made.
I realized later the only reason I thought I needed it was due to slick marketing, pressure, and urgency. And when I say later, when the regret came.
And guess what?
I was sold that high pressure purchase on a sales call after a personal relationship, with nary a funnel in sight.
In fact, a lot of it "went down in the DMs," as they say.
It's easy to try and find rules like "do this" and "do that" for yourself around honest marketing, but really, most of the time it's not about what you do but how you do it.
What's ethical for one person may be unethical for the next.
That's not even to speak of market sophistication.
If you're marketing to a non-tech savvy crowd, or to younger or older audiences, or whatever, there are whole other sets of questions to consider.
You can't look for an ethical marketing checklist or pledge, you have to investigate your own audience and ethics.
For me, DeadlineFunnel is essential for evergreening all of my marketing, an important business value for someone disabled, mentally ill, neurodivergent, and chronically ill.
Because there are SO many things that can take me out of a launch, so I've chosen not to run them. And DeadlineFunnel helps.
If this essay helped you learn something or think about marketing and inclusivity differently, please consider sending a tip. I love writing about doing marketing differently, but spending my energy this way has real repercussions for my health and business.