Pull The Needle Out Of Your Arm

Published by: Andrew Paul    |   Category: Blog, Email Marketing, Reputation    |   Date: 10/04/2012

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The Old School Theory of the Hypodermic Needle

There’s a reason why this was a popular theory in the early 20th century and there’s a reason why this theory was left in the early 20th century. However, the more I am immersed in the world of marketing, the more I realize that people still subscribe to the Hypodermic Needle theory. Why? The answer is beyond me.

Brainwashed by marketingThe Hypodermic Needle Theory originated in the years following World War I and the years leading up to World War II. During this time period, media was infiltrated with propaganda films that had an immediate, powerful effect on its viewers and significantly influenced a change in behavior. This theory is based on the premise that, just like a hypodermic needle, advertising messages are injected and absorbed by the recipient of that message, who will then respond in a predictable manner. If I told you to jump, you would say, “how high?”

This theory operates on the assumption that our audience is passive and powerless. The followers of Adolf Hilter are proof of this fact. As there were no other messages that counteracted or competed with the primary message, the mass audience had no reason to believe anything different.

As the media landscape has changed drastically in the recent decades, why have certain companies adopted this theory of mass communication in their marketing strategy? It’s time to wake up, smell the coffee, and realize that people aren’t stupid.

So stop trying to persuade people that your diet pills will help people lose 25 pounds in a week, or that the food you eat is killing you, or that getting rich quick involves simply entering your email address and clicking “submit.”

Just because you put your message out there doesn’t mean that people will believe you. In an email marketing campaign, it’s far more detrimental to your brand name to make an outrageous claim about your products or services than it is to halt your marketing efforts altogether. If you think that people are intrigued by subject lines that promise to melt fat instantly, think again. All you are doing is triggering spam filters that will send your email to the junk folder and damage your sender reputation. Even if the message reaches the inbox, who in their right mind would believe such nonsense?

Browse a list of Email Marketing Subject Lines you Never Want to Use to avoid coming across as a spammer and to improve your inbox delivery.

Gaining the trust and acceptance of your target audience is no easy task. It involves connecting with them on an emotional level, and offering a product or service that will enhance their lives. Not by spamming them with false claims.

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One Response to Pull The Needle Out Of Your Arm

  1. Peter Woolvett says:

    I remember studying the Hypodermic Needle theory in college and realizing that miracle cures have one application: desperate people looking for silver bullets.

    As sad as it is to say, someone who has unsuccessfully tried traditional means to solve a problem, like a healthy diet and exercise, will be on the lookout for something stronger. These people are less likely to process the new offering rationally and may be willing to try a promising alternative, as long as the price seems small.

    I agree with you when it comes to Hitler, and most importantly Goebbels: it was a well-tuned propaganda machine that ran virtually unopposed, in a country that craved a miracle cure. Countless dictators and religious leaders have ruled based on desperation and sorrow, because we don’t like to deal with pain and discomfort.

    Thank you for making a difference: it’s good to know that there are companies like yours and ours, advocating for better marketing practices and protecting consumers.

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