Don’t Be That Guy: The Wild Pitcher

If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.” – Martin Blank

Hey, while you’re clearly deeply engaged with something you have an interest in, allow me to assault your ears/eyes with me Me ME!” – That Guy

You never turn a recommendation on until you have a large data pool to work with.” – Me, to a client

I think we can all agree that ads are annoying.  Pop-ups are almost unheard of online these days, but a lot of sites (I’m looking at you, Detroit Free Press and Detroit News) use “pop-unders” frequently, which are just as, if not more, annoying.  On Facebook, ads are unavoidable.  CNN and many other sites show ads that take up enormous amounts of real estate until they self-minimize (and heaven help you if you miss that ‘close’ and click to expand more…) or get closed.

But what’s even more annoying than an ad…is a wild pitch.  Whether it’s horrible timing, unexpected due to the venue, or because you’re trying to sneak your spam into the comments section without looking like spam…you’re still our new favorite That Guy…

Once upon a time I was sitting with a large online catalog retailer, and I was trying to get them to understand why a good data pool is important when it comes to a recommendation engine and targeting demographics.

For about three and a half hours.

Exhausted, I finally just turned and went into the beta version of their website and played out the worst case scenario to them according to their rules.  I left the recommendation engine on immediately…like they wanted.  I went to catalog that had their entire realm of products, which some of their partner sites would be carrying.

“Now imagine I’m a dad”, I said (I wasn’t at the time), “and I’m doing a little shopping.  My daughter likes Britney Spears…sure, I’ll buy her latest CD for my daughter.  My son likes Scooby Doo…and here’s the latest animated movie…add to cart.  Now my wife likes to cook, so here’s that non-stick wok she wants…added.  And here’s ‘Back Door Babes III’…you know, for me…and we checkout.”

They all agreed this could easily play out as a plausible scenario, life’s good!  What’s the problem?  The customer found everything they wanted!  Why are you saying this is bad?!

Let the wookiee win. But don’t let him pitch.

Open up another browser, enter the same beta site.  “This time, I’m your average housewife persona, and here I am looking for that new non-stick wok that my best friend Jeannie just got from her husband, and I add it to my cart andOHMYGODWHYAREYOUSHOWINGMEPORN?!?!”

Because, of course, people who like non-stick woks like ‘Back Door Babes III’ based on our current data set…

Needless to say, the recommendation engine wasn’t turned on immediately.

I think we can all agree that it would have been a really, really bad idea to have that recommendation on, right?


And that targeting your demographic requires having an appropriate level of information and understanding of your audience so that you don’t make a fool of yourself, right?


Good, because in the immortal words of Ron White: “I told you that story so that I could tell you this one…”

So now explain to me why it’s any different when you stumble across an article on a website…oh, I don’t know…let’s just say it’s the one from a week or so ago on the Detroit Unspun site about the best ways to go about finding a job…and you decide that the comments section of that article is a GREAT place for you to basically copy and paste a page of your website where you’re desperately trying to sell books and videos and space in your “How To Use LinkedIn!” classes and sweet mother of godWHYAREYOUASSAULTINGMYEYES?!”

Because that totally happened.  Someone violated the rules of the recommendation engine by trying to shortcut the process.

Wild pitches are never good.

I actually found it kind of funny when the writer dropped me a note about it and said “Hey…so I haven’t approved this comment yet…but, yeah, weird…is this as spammy as I think it is?”

Yes, it was absolutely as spammy as he thought it was.

So while this really ought to be common sense 101 here, as we’ve unfortunately learned…”common sense” really isn’t all that “common” any more.

– You don’t come to our events to talk about Multi Level Marketing schemes

– You don’t go to funerals to sell life insurance policies

– You don’t spam articles trying to help people with your sales pitch

– You don’t ignore the 10 Commandments of Networking

Those aren’t the only rules, but that’s a good enough start.

It’s really easy to not be That Guy…so maybe you need to stop trying so hard.

That’s all for this time…go read something else.