How to Insult Your Audience


In today's marketing language and Internet vernacular, companies and online publications often insult their customers and readers. What do I mean? It's because they often:

Tell people what they need

A tech blog I follow regularly posts headlines like "12 Pinterest Extensions You Need to Try Now" or "25 Snapchat Accounts You Need to Follow Right Now." Need is a strong word, but Pinterest extensions and Snapchat accounts aren't equivalent to actual necessities like food, water, and air. Granted, the word is being used hyperbolically, but people still tend to bristle when others tell them what they think they need.

Tell them they're doing something wrong

"Cutting your toenails? You're doing it wrong." This you're-doing-it-wrong meme used to be everywhere. Its use seems to have abated somewhat, but it is still rather common. It will always be condescending to declare that someone is doing something wrong.

Tell them how they feel or what they know

"This sale is one you don't want to miss!" or "12 things you never knew about your car." No one has access to someone else's internal feelings or knowledge, and when someone acts as if they do, it can create unconscious annoyance and prod people to put their guards up.

The common thread in these examples is an attitude of arrogance, but admittedly, this attitude sometimes does have its place. When someone is so boldly confident, it draws attention and make people feel unsettled, encouraging them to learn more:

  • "Do I really need that thing? I don't want to be out of the loop."
  • "Am I doing something wrong? Have I been doing it wrong all this time? I'd better find out how to do it right."
  • "I'm confused by all these options. Maybe this is something I really do want."

In other words, this tactic can generate clicks and collect eyeballs. Maybe it even moves a few goods. Nevertheless, abrasive messages are not a great way to build solid relationships with clients and customers. Overuse of them will yield diminishing returns when the rudeness wears thin. If they do create an emotional connection, it can become one that's confrontational instead of cooperative.


Image Source: WorldArtsMe