a man holding a bottle

Digital Snake Oil

Solidarity Sunday: Digital Snake Oil

Recently a business manager (a UnionUp client) called me from a conference in Texas. He had just seen a presentation from a media company claiming to have a revolutionary product called a "Home Purchase Predictor" and he wanted my opinion. That company's representative claimed that the product was able to use proprietary data to target homeowners at the exact moment they are ready to make a purchase. The rep professed they could use the same technology to predict the exact point when someone was looking to change jobs or look for employment options.

I said to my client, "I will do my due diligence and find out everything I can on this product, but I've seen similar approaches to this, and off the cuff, this smells like snake oil."

I did my research. I even called my Google rep. If such a product was so revolutionary, why were there no reviews about it online, and why did the 'official' video only have 340 views? I reached out to the media company for a demo of the product. This company is a national radio company who moved into digital media when radio was no longer as profitable.

The salesman wanted to talk to me about their "suite of services", but I kept coming back to the "Purchase Predictor". What does it do? How does it work? What methodology is used? He said he would have to put me in touch with a specialist, and that they would reach out to set up a demo. That call never came.

There is no shortage of "products" designed to separate advertisers from their money. Claims of using "3rd party data" to predict purchasing intent is nothing new. Predicting purchasing intent is slick packaging on a 15-year-old idea that never worked in the first place.

Finding buyers in the market for the products and services you sell is a given for any campaign. We use targeting parameters in recruiting campaigns every day as a matter of course for all our clients.

But reaching buyers "in the market" and predicting the exact moment when they will pull the trigger are two completely different things. If people were easily predictable and behaved that way, every advertiser would do it, and the big tech companies would crowd out the media companies as a result. Furthermore, it takes no account of how human beings make decisions.

This isn't the first time a media company has peddled snake oil and it won't be the last.

If you're going to use digital and social media for recruiting and organizing, the challenge isn't targeting, it's engaging your future members and standing out in a cluttered market.

Successful recruiting is a built on a process to engage potential members and build a relationship with them long before they are in the market…understanding how to capture their attention in a cluttered market…knowing what to say to get them to know you and like you…doing it in a way that they can see themselves in what you do before they need you.

The 'secret' isn't a product, it is a process.

The goal isn't prediction, it's persuasion.

Get Reel

If the people you are recruiting cannot see themselves in what you're doing, they will not come. A great way for your recruits to see you as real, is to have your members tell their story in an unscripted reel. Union Up reels are real. Short, to-the-point, with no 'script'. It's a great way for your local to make an authentic connection in a short and powerful way.


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