How an Understanding of Pricing Can Lead to Fewer Obnoxious Advertisements

Monday, February 16, 2015

I love receiving spam marketing - robocalls to my cell phone, fliers under my windshield, even letters to my mailbox. Why? Because it offers an opportunity for two of my greatest joys in life:

  1. A means of teaching folks about pricing
  2. The opportunity to enjoy a few minutes of schadenfreude

Let's start at the very beginning. Why do businesses use such annoying forms of marketing? They believe that the costs of using said methods are outweighed by the benefits. Any additional sales generated by their ads represent newfound profits while the majority of the costs are accrued by the recipients:

A pile of junkmail
Image courtesy of Dvortygirl

If only there were some way to raise the price that businesses were forced to pay when they used such advertising methods. If we could get them to "internalize" the costs borne by consumers, then these methods would become more expensive for firms to employ. Once the costs of spam marketing eclipsed the benefits, businesses would be completely disincentivized from considering such methods.

So what do I do to help businesses internalize the true costs of their ads? I respond! Every time I receive a robocall, I contact the caller. Every time I receive a business card on my windshield, I give the owner a call. It's not my fault that I'm rarely a good fit for the business' services.

In retrospect, I'm uncertain whether the roofer appreciated my calling his personal cell phone at midnight, given that I rent an apartment. I also question whether the law office enjoyed the fact that I used his "emergency line" to occupy my time on a particularly long walk last night. But I'm almost certain that the veterinary office is still upset that a person without any pets wasted so much of the receptionist's time with a lengthy phone call.

Many would call my actions wrong - something akin to "two wrongs don't make a right." My heroic deeds are nothing of the sort! I'm doing my part to reduce the ecological and human toll from the 100 million trees that are cut down each year to create junk mail and the 21 billion hours that Americans are forced to deal with sorting junk advertisements each year.

Every contact I make with spamming advertisers represents one more step toward making annoying advertisements go away. If others followed suit, businesses would be overwhelmed with contacts and would stop annoying us so often.

No legislation required. No need to register with a "do not call" registry. No need to do anything other than change the price advertisers must pay for their advertisements. It's amazing how a change in price can eliminate a despised business practice!

Of course, not all businesses engage in such annoying advertising strategies. My business, for instance, would much rather pepper innocuous advertisements for the world's greatest software pricing book and associated business consulting practice within the content of interesting articles. While fewer eyeballs are reached in this manner, the total cost of advertising is kept astonishingly small.