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My husband and I each have an investment account that we manage. Occasionally we come together to talk about some of the stocks. I am a member of a few of The Fool services, he is not.

During our discussion this morning, he mentioned that he really likes listening to The Motley Fools on the radio; however, he is so thrown off by the "sleazy, snake oil" (his words) emails he receives that he is leery of the Fool services. His specific comment was "they need to quit doing the WAIT, THERE'S MORE! hooks, fire the marketing people that thought up the sleazy, scummy campaign, and return to providing honest information and let people come to them."

He is so turned off by the marketing emails that when I was telling him about a stock pick of mine, he wanted to make sure I had verified everything the Fool's had written with an independent source.

He also feels that those emails are hurting The Motley Fool's reputation and they are becoming a joke. I must admit, I felt embarrassed for The Motley Fool and my excitement at being a part of Fooldom has been tempered.
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He also feels that those emails are hurting The Motley Fool's reputation

Everyone claims the same about negative political ads. Yet the reason the political campaigns continue to run them is because they work. As much as many of us don't like the marketing emails and similar marketing techniques used by other firms, they're used because they're work.
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As you know by now, you are not alone.

Regards,

Bob
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Come on RTB, tell us how you really feel:)

John

On a side note, I assume by your name we share a common interest?
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Hi John,

Go Vols!

Regards,

Bob
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As much as many of us don't like the marketing emails and similar marketing techniques used by other firms, they're used because they're work.

Mike,

That is quite a blanket statement. If all management investment firms were the same, from penny stock pushers to, say, Ken Fisher, Bill Gross, Seth Klarman, John Hussman, Larry McMillan, then that could be right.

The type of marketing that TMF mostly engages in appeals to our reptile brain, resembling the penny stock pushers. I don't know how successful they are, but it seems to me that none of them have staying power. Of course, it may be that the same guys keep doing the same stuff over and over again, just changing names.

We may be in the midst of a TMF marketing experiment. I don't know if you have poked around at the site that is the center of the current Pro membership drive, but it is worth a look: http://www.fool.com/fool/free-report/1228/pro-electionhome-2...

The accompanying emails that try to have people with interest click to that site are also much less offensive then normal. For example, I received one yesterday, signed by Jeff, that starts with: "A personal invitation to start growing your wealth by an average of 10% per year -- no matter who's in the White House..." Nothing like the 400% to 1,000% and more gains that previous campaigns featured. Although the latest video they used oozes fear again before it transitions to the Pro(mised) land: https://www.fool.com/shop/secure/order-01.aspx?dc=f38a1562-3...

Also, I haven't noticed the countdown counter on the homepage yet. Unfortunately, there was this major outage of the whole site yesterday that didn't instill confidence in any new or potentially new member.

Of course, now I am worried that the whole thing falls flat, because I haven't seen many new members show up on the boards yet, and TMF marketing will use this failure for years to come to support more sleaze campaigns. This "experiment" ends at midnight on Tuesday, July 24.

Leo
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> Of course, now I am worried that the whole thing falls flat, because I haven't seen many new members show up on the boards yet, ...

I have the same impression.....not many new posters, it seems. On the other hand, there was also only one rec that came out which was not at all geared toward new members and there are only 3 "Buy now" stocks at the moment. Of course there are many questions that could be discussed and asked, but one typically starts wondering once you actually start trading (or want to and run into questions). At least that's what happened to me. My first question was about my first option trade that had run away from me and I wasn't sure what to do.

On a different but related topic....who is that member Mike W. from the marketing video. He is someone we all know from the boards? He must be a real member because I didn't see any disclaimer like "...not an actual member. Any similarities to members living or dead are purely coincidental."

HH
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As much as many of us don't like the marketing emails and similar marketing techniques used by other firms, they're used because [they] work.

Sorry, Leo, but I don't see that as a blanket statement. I'm just making an observation that many firms use this type of marketing because it works despite that many people dislike it. Similary, I really dislike it when my lawncare service aerates my lawn but I pay them to do it every two years because it works.
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As much as many of us don't like the marketing emails and similar marketing techniques used by other firms, they're used because [they] work.

The problem, as I see it, is how you define "works".

If marketing's sole objective is to put asses in seats, then they can draw (as they have) on a rich history of carnival marketing to do that. It "works". But if TMF's overall objective is to attract and "retain" premium members then many successful marketing strategies for "attracting" will actually subvert retention.

Of course, marketing's response could be (and probably is) "we put the asses in the seats. It's Jeff's responsibility to retain them".

Jeff's a great guy, but he's not a miracle worker. A marketing "promise" that you can never lose money, turn $1 into a fortune in a short period and only spend 5 minutes a week doing it (backed by a long money back guarantee period) is an empty promise. Jeff may be able to reset expectations for some small percentage of people who fall for an outrageous marketing campaign, but most of the suckers will move on to the next get rick quick opportunity once they figure out that marketing's promises were just fluff.

The thing about carnival marketing that made it so successful is that the carnival moved to a new town each week and could draw on a fresh crowd of suckers (they also didn't offer money back). How long until there are no more fresh suckers for TMF to harvest?

Where's the overall TMF leadership that crafts marketing and service management into a total package that attracts and retains? Apparently, running a company is a lot more difficult than finding good companies to invest in. I wonder, if the analytical power of TMF were unleashed on objectively analyzing TMF, would TMF be rated a buy, hold or sell?

Ed
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I'll just add, they all ready got my money- continued marketing towards me, or anyone else who has found an MF service they like, is a waste of time and effort, and clearly risks irritating people into going away.
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But if TMF's overall objective is to attract and "retain" premium members then many successful marketing strategies for "attracting" will actually subvert retention.

I agreee, Ed. My experience is that some companies are better at attracting, some are better at retaining, and relatively few excel at doing both. The one truism is that's impossible to retain customers if you don't first attract them.

Apparently, running a company is a lot more difficult than finding good companies to invest in.

Again, I agree, and I think the reasons are understandable. Finding the right balance of marketing and retention strategies is far more difficult than find investments that meet the goals.

Consider that there are very few companies that Pro will invest in for 10 years. Most of Pro's investments will probably last no more than five years and many investments such as options plays are designed to last only months. (Of the 20 stocks and mutual funds purchased in Pro's first year, only 7 remain in the portfolio today, less than three years later.) Yet TMF leadership has already been running its own company for about 20 years.

Moreover, when it's apparent that a particular investment is not going to work out, that fact often becomes abundantly clear and it's easy to close the position. Not so when evaluating the success of marketing and retention strategies, much less deciding when and how to change course.

Just my opinion.
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cheesemotu,

Have you tried this? Go to 'My Fool,' then My Settings, find Preferences and click on E-mail and Other Communications ---> scroll to bottom and un-check the marketing/promo e-mails. This should work.

Best,
Anne
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Where's the overall TMF leadership that crafts marketing and service management into a total package that attracts and retains?

Many of us remember the Gardners as the two young guys, who together with some fine analysts like Bill Mann, spoke of a service that was anti-hype, a place that could be trusted to not pump stocks. As TMF grew it became more like the very things it derided. Why does chasing the almighty dollar subvert our morals and cause business to try anything to make another buck?

Is TMF becoming Cramer junior? I don’t know which is worse, the Ginsu Knife service marketing (but wait – there’s more), or the hype wording of some stock buy recs. This is a post I made about MAKO on RB.

There is one problem that is not being addressed by the RB defenders and that is the TMF "marketing" type style of producing buy recs. By that I mean almost pure hype. TMF didn't used to be that way. They were the voice of reason in a Cramer trader world.

Read these statements and interpret them as a novice investor. This is investing advice, not a pep rally or a coach trying to fire up a team at halftime.

but if knee osteoarthritis is the archrival, then MAKO Surgical(Nasdaq: MAKO) is a game-day hero.

And if the company can tap even a modest percentage of the knee replacement market, it will see explosive growth and huge profits, and shareholders will benefit from multi-bag returns.

By the end of the last quarter, 40 total MAKOplasty sites had performed 3,115 procedures total, but this market penetration is just a drop in the bucket.

Yes, there is an “if” there but the hype words bury it


“Explosive growth and huge profits” – have you seen these words in penny stock pump letters? (MAKO has returned 0.6% since first rec in 2010 and -52.6% from 2nd rec). But my point is not about the success of MAKO, it’s about the hype in the rec.

Some changes in TMF are for the better but some just smell bad!

Regards,

Bob

who used the word "pump" since the last time I saw in in a member post, David came unglued (TMF does not pump & dump - we have the hype only)
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Hey Mike,

Finding the right balance of marketing and retention strategies is far more difficult than find investments that meet the goals.

Balance is the key in all things. That's the term TMFBreakerRob used in his reply to my pasted post above.

Read these statements and interpret them as a novice investor. This is investing advice, not a pep rally or a coach trying to fire up a team at halftime. -- Bob

Yes...... :(

We have a small cadre of TMFers who exchange emails on everything from personal tidbits in our lives to "hot stock tips" to our personal stock plans (buy/sell/why) to.... overall observations of the Fool. I would say, without exception, we are embarrassed by the Fool marketing.

Read that last sentence again. Sounds bleak, doesn't it?

Pretty hard to spin that as a positive, even though the ongoing response from "above" has been "It works". Yeah, it works. It brings in people (I guess), but what kind of taste does it leave in everyone's mouth, both newbie and veteran? What are the results when there is investing disappointment? (Which of course will occur).

I know that I wax enthusiastic on these boards for various companies at various times when I think it is merited.... but I also get very bearish as well. There is balance (I hope) over time and I usually try to include both sides in every post that is bullish (not always when I'm bearish). Could such balance in Fool marketing work? My guess is probably not, but I think it shouldn't be a pep rally either, to use your words.

I believe balance is necessary, at least to a degree. Perhaps instead of a balance between bull and bear..... it could be a balance between "pep rally" and "maturity"..... an emphasis on building wealth over the long term and pointing out that there is no inevitability to every recommendation being a multi-bagger. Right now, I think the strategy is to bring them in with the pep rally and keep them here with the maturity of the community, coupled of course with investing success.

Not being privy to the numbers that drive the Fool, I suppose the advertising face of the Fool is effective. But, I don't like it. And, I've grown more hesitant to suggest the Fool to others. I say something like: "Don't pay attention to the advertising or the articles. It's the discussions on the boards that is valuable." Yeah, I steer people away from the articles too.... there is just so much variation in the quality that it can be a bit of an embarrassment as well.... but I think it has been improving over the last year or so.

Bottom line?

I think I see more engaged investors over time and I see that most of them have a positive experience if they can establish some balance..... in other words: an emphasis on solid growers perhaps with some speculative holdings. The ones who get discouraged and get mad are the ones who have loaded up on the speculative stuff and have been burned in the first market drop. While I can't do squat about Marketing..... I (and others such as yourself) can at least work to guide folks into a sustainable investing style.

Those are my rambling thoughts on this fine Saturday..... :)

Rob


I would think these problems bother our PRO team more than others since we are "PRO", as in "professional" and that's one thing the marketing is not. It may be professional marketing but it doesn't reflect professional style.

Regards,

Bob
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We have a small cadre of TMFers who exchange emails on...overall observations of the Fool. I would say, without exception, we are embarrassed by the Fool marketing.

Read that last sentence again. Sounds bleak, doesn't it?


It's just my point of view, but it doesn't seem bleak at all to me. First, it's only a small cadre who feel this way without exception. Second, the Fool couldn't possibly do anything that could be embarrassing to me, so I would be an exception to the small cadre. That's because I'm embarrassed only by the things that I do, not what others do.

Again, just my opinion.
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Mike,

I guess I don't follow your last post. It's a small cadre but it's composed of TMF employees. As such, they have reason to be embarrassed since it reflects on them as part of the company.

Members certainly have no reason to be embarrassed, irritated maybe.

Regards,

Bob
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Bob,

I didn't realize that "TMFers" is code for TMF employees. I'll bow out of the conversation now, as I don't think this is the time or place to be communicating about employees' thoughts regarding their employer.
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Mike,

The nice thing about the Fool is that such opinions are welcomed as part of the "Motley" philosophy. Several members of our PRO team have previously posted about the same feelings.

What are we doing here on a Sunday night? I'm just letting my dinner rest and trying to avoid cutting the lawn ;-)

Regards,

Bob
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