Posted on Tue 01 December 2020

pseudovalidation techniques

Pseudovalidation is a major goal of marketing and advertising. Actually validating a claim is expensive and often boring. Why not just make people feel like they’re important in some way?

But once you recognize it, pseudovalidation feels disrespectful: these people are lying to me and don’t even care if I know it:

Subject: Lunch?  
Hi Dan,  
My Head of Delivery asked me to reach out to you (see below) and offer to  
buy you lunch through Uber Eats for a quick virtual meet and greet.  
Here is a 1-minute video <URL/explainer> about what we  
do and why PERSON would like to get on your radar.  
Let me know if you think it’s a bad idea?  
---------- Forwarded message ----------  
From: PERSON (no email address)  
Date: Nov 18, 2020, 9:41 AM  
Subject: Meeting with Dan  
To: MARKETROID (no email address)  
MARKETROID - I came across Dan’s LinkedIn profile. Here is the link  
<yup, a linked-in profile>  
Try to see if you can get an email and invite Dan to a virtual lunch.  
I think Dan would be a great person to get in front of.  
Head of Delivery at COMPANY  
Watch Our Software Development Humor Commercials  

Let’s see what we’ve got.

MARKETROID plays on our sympathy for them as a hard-working MARKETROID who just wants to get their job done. They offer a small bribe for our attention. As pseudovalidation that you have come to the attention of PERSON, (who commands MARKETROID and is thus mighty and powerful), they send a copy of an email which is curiously unconvincing as the sort of email actual humans send to each other.

Note that at no time does MARKETROID say

  • what COMPANY does
  • why it would be interesting to us
  • why they think we are clearly the people they need to sell to

Nor is it normal for a salescritter or MARKETROID to forward internal email to someone outside the company. Usually there’s about seventeen lines of extralegal disclaimers at the bottom explicitly rejecting that as an action compatible with continued employment.

Update, from a day later: as part of my job, I occasionally inspect the company-wide spam filters to see whether they are effective. Guess what a coworker determined was spam, with every word the same except that it had my coworker’s name inserted instead of mine?

Note to salescritters: if your phrasing is creepy when it’s repeated to different people, it really is a bad idea.

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