Marketing is a real turn-off

I wrote the following message to MF and received what I think was an AI-generated response suggesting I post comments and feedback on the Community boards. Okay. Here it is.

There are MANY things I admire about the MF. I will probably still continue to enjoy listening to some of the podcasts, reading articles, etc. but I’ve made up my mind (for now) about leaving the paid subscription service. The main reason is that I know my strengths and weaknesses and I’m quite certain that Warren Buffet’s advice for his estate is also the best for me. I have little interest in trying to pick individual stocks and would prefer instead just to own them all.
There IS one more thing I’ve often wanted to say to anyone at MF who might listen. It is also partially responsible (but not the main reason) for not wanting to continue with your service. I hate all the marketing come-ons. If I had a dime for every “This is your last chance”, “We’re packing up and leaving”, “Can I be frank”, “Final Reminder”, etc. email that I’ve received over the past 5 years, I’m pretty sure I’d have as much money as I made investing with stock picks from your service. IF your record is so great, let it speak for yourself. Those obviously disingenuous marketing taglines also make one skeptical of everything else the company puts out. I’ve often felt there is a real disconnect between David Gardner’s vision and tone and the one we get from the marketing department. Frankly, the marketing is a real turn-off. And I know I am not alone when I say that. Just wanted to share my views on that.
Good luck to you all.


I hate all the marketing come-ons.

As do we all. It may be the only thing that everyone agrees on in the “TMF Community”.


If I had a dime for every “This is your last chance”, “We’re packing up and leaving”, “Can I be frank”, “Final Reminder”, etc. email that I’ve received over the past 5 years

This is intended to explain, not to excuse;, and if you’re OK with that, continue:

The average consumer is bombarded with between 4,000 and 10,000 advertising messages a day. They may be an innocuous as seeing the “Exxon” sign at the corner gas station, as annoying as clicking through an infomercial on some cable channel, or as pernicious as spam messages received via text message or email. Think about that: 4,000 to 10,000 messages a day.

Your brain has limited “rack space” to deal with all of this, so generally speaking it erects an “invisible protective shield” (thanks, Ipana) and simply shuts out all messages, allowing perhaps the paltry few in which you have a pre-existing interest (which is why the stalking ads you see on Facebook after making a Google search are more effective.)

In marketing-speak, a “call to action” is something that gets the attention of the consumer, gets him/her/they/them/it/whatever off the couch and gets a reaction . They’re recognizable in direct-sales ads, they start with “But wait! If you order now…” and that’s because if you don’t order now, you’re going to forget about it in the next 15 seconds and go on with your life. The “call to action” is intended to get past the shield and get the money out of your pocket.

In the same way, the phrases you object to in Fool come-ons, things like “This is your last chance” and “Final reminder” and such are aimed directly at the future-regret portion of your brain, an end run around the protective shield, and one intended to try to (figuratively) get you off the couch. It’s unfortunate, I suppose, but it works. You know what doesn’t work? Laying out a bunch of helpful but neutral information and hoping the potential consumer says “Yes, I really must make a note to myself to at some point in the future partake of this wonderful opportunity.”

Of course I’m not saying there aren’t some people who won’t do that. There are, just not enough of them, or at least not enough to make it financially viable, so the added urgency warnings and other shield-dodging calls are added.

Yes, they get tiring. Yes, they can be obnoxious. I wish it were otherwise, but in the realm of marketing pitches they’re what works. (I note that when radio began and when TV began, the commercials therein had a lot more of this sort of thing. As people became more acclimated to the spots, and as they became more entertaining, and as agencies and advertisers learned the art of exposition rather than exhortation they diminished - but you can still find them, and I hope this explanation of “why” in some small way allows you to shrug your shoulders and say “Ah well, I still hate them, but I’ll just set my brain filter up a notch and carry on.”)


Yes, they get tiring. Yes, they can be obnoxious. I wish it were otherwise, but in the realm of marketing pitches they’re what works.

Thanks for the explanation.

Internet marketing, especially, has reached an unstable place in my mind. I had these thoughts about Fool marketing a long time ago, and I basically reached the conclusion that the Fool wouldn’t exist without that scummy marketing. That scummy marketing is what works, and without it I don’t think the Fool would have survived the tough times. But the marketing also feels so counter to everything the Fool believes in. The Fool counsels patience and logic, the marketing preaches urgency and emotion.

But The Fool certainly isn’t the only guilty party here. As you point out, a lot of the cause for this behavior is just a war of escalation. With 4,000 to 10,000 messages getting shouted at you a day, is there any way to be heard except to be loud? And to target the appeal to our basest emotions of fear and desire? As Facebook/Google/etc. have increased their “adtech” knowledge, advertising has gotten creepier and creepier. A while ago, I spent some time learning some of that tech and it’s quite terrifying how that industry works.

I don’t really know the answer here. Back in the early 20th century when they had concerns about the “adtech” of the day, they passed laws. Truth in advertising laws. Laws about advertising to kids. But with the Internet so international in jurisdiction that doesn’t seem possible. But maybe it is. GDPR was flawed but it’s the best we’ve seen. And fundamentally it’s been the only principle that’s worked so far: “you want access to do commerce with our citizens, then you have to play by our rules”.

I assert my generation was the generation that invented “Internet scale”. What happens when all fixed costs are amortized over a few billion people. That has had a lot of positive consequences, but also a lot of negative consequences. both in the physical world (ecology particularly) and in the virtual world (privacy, mental health, and scummy politics particularly) I predict the next 50 years are essentially going to be building the society and technology to live with those consequences.

I know this is a long diversion from talking about the Fool’s advertising. But my thesis is that this is a symptom of a bigger problem.


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I know this is a long diversion from talking about the Fool’s advertising. But my thesis is that this is a symptom of a bigger problem.

Yes, information explosion. The Internet loudhailer is so cheap that even crap can make a living. For us, as consumers, the trick is to cut the crap as much as we can. Unfortunately, as you commented, many if not most of the messages target our ancestral fight or flight instincts that we still retain from our days on the African savannah.

Reality is that The Market has a very different risk/reward profile than the African savannah. Back there we had to fight or flee. In The Market we can just sit and watch the girls go by! But tell people to ignore The Fed, they think you are mad! Tell people to ignore inflation, idem, MAD! Tell people to ignore what funds are buying and selling and they send you to the loony bin!

It took me decades to learn this lesson but now my port is doing a lot better. Worry about volatility? No, take advantage of it, it’s your friend! Why did the marker drop? More sellers than buyers, what the Law of Supply and Demand dictates. But why the rush to sell? God know and he won’t tell or some noise got the attention of lots of people.

X-post at METaR
How the Market Works…

Tune out the noise!

Denny Schlesinger

Can you beat the market? Over 50% of drivers consider themselves above average…

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Go into your Communication Settings and disable everything. By default, you are subscribed to many Special Offers and Promotional settings. Over the last two months, TMF has only sent me two emails, both about FoolFest 2022.

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