Saturday, August 6, 2011

Can Pavlov’s Dog Really Make You Buy Internet Marketing Rubbish?

Ivan Pavlov was a famous Russian psychologist that is probably best known for
his work on ‘classical conditioning’. Much of his work was in the field of behavioral
psychology and he is attributed with coining the term ‘conditional reflex’. The term
refers to someone acting on impulse rather than applying any critical or rational

Does this sound familiar? It should do. Psychological conditioning leading to reflex
actions is one of the wonderful tricks employed by many internet marketing schemes
hoping to lure customers into impulsive purchases. But how do they manage to
work this psychological magic? Before we delve into their murky strategies, it will be
helpful to offer a brief overview of one of Ivan Pavlov’s most famous experiments.

Pavlov’s Dog

Pavlov was performing research into the digestive system and discovered that dogs
tend to salivate (drool) when they think they are about to get fed. His experiment
involved ringing a little bell when he was about to bring food to the dog. The dog
soon associated the sound of the bell with a forthcoming meal. It was soon possible
to make the dog drool by simply ringing the bell, even if no food was present. The
dog heard the bell, thought it was about to be fed, and salivated.

In modern terms, this is the equivalent of a dog getting excited when its owner goes
towards a cupboard containing its food or picks up its bowl. The dog has learnt to
associate these actions with food and will start to drool and get excited. The dog has
been conditioned.

Behavioral Conditioning and Internet Marketing Schemes

Don’t think that dogs are stupid and humans would know better. People are as easily
conditioned as animals. Children learn by conditioning and we are all impulsive by
nature. Internet marketers know this and have come up with some very devious
methods for exploiting our weaknesses.

The merest mention of missing out on a onetime deal and we too become drooling
dogs. Rational thought goes out of the window and impulse takes over. A dodgy
product looks far more inviting when it is about to become unavailable or is offered at
a discounted price.

There are closets full of hideous clothes bought in a panic when they were on half-
price offer for ‘one day only’. The thought of returning tomorrow and finding the item
gone is too much to bear. The item is bought impulsively. Only later, when rational
thought returns do buyers realize the item bought was on offer for good reason…it
was seriously ugly.

Internet marketing schemes use ‘onetime offers’ and ‘time sensitive offers’ to
encourage a conditioned reflex. Blind panic will always mask a bad product. With
critical thinking out of the equation, the marketer can shift lots of merchandise before
people realize what the hell they just bought.

Fake countdown clocks and pop-ups screaming ‘ATTENTION!’ are nothing more
than clever rouses to tap into our predilection for impulsive reaction.

.'If you don’t grab it right now, it will be gone forever!’
.'This is a special onetime offer’
.'75% off, only available today’

We are conditioned to fear loss. Missing out on a potential bargain kills us. What
if this is the product that will make you ridiculously rich and you don’t buy it? Now
you’re sweating, shaking, searching for a credit card and agonizing over whether
to click that ‘Submit’ button, or not. What should you do? Yes or no? Is this really a
good idea? If only you had more time to think. It’s now or never. If you don’t make a
decision now it will be gone.

The decision will nearly always be yes. You will buy a crappy product. You are
conditioned and have no control over foolish impulsive purchases when faced
with a fear of loss and time sensitivity. It’s a human conditioned reflex and simple
behavioral psychology. You are Pavlov’s dog and the internet marketer knows this.
Ring, ring…woof, woof! A.K.A. How to Lose All Your Facebook Friends

I have a question for you. When is a Facebook application not a Facebook

Answer: When it is a site I recently had the misfortune to stumble across. Let me tell
you a little bit about…

The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing is a particularly malevolent website that purposes to be an
actual Facebook application. But it is not really an application at all. It is a cleverly
disguised marketing scam.

The site masquerades as a realistic-looking Facebook page. It uses the same page
layout as Facebook and even the fonts used on the page are identical to those used
on the official Facebook site. Of course the scammers behind this scheme are not
stupid (they just think the readers are) and they include a miniscule disclaimer at the
bottom of the page announcing that Facebook is not officially affiliated
to the real Facebook.

This disclaimer is small enough to be classified as bacterial. Not only is it tiny, it is
in a grey font that is barely distinguishable from the white page background. For
anyone not studying the page through a microscope it would be easily missed, but it
serves its purpose as a legal get-out clause for the scammers.

Apparently This Is NOT Another Pyramid Sales Scam!

Using a very strong magnifying glass, I also noticed the disclaimer stated this is
not an MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) scheme. What a load of rubbish! The ancient
Egyptians could not have created a more obvious pyramid.

I will give you a brief overview of how the scheme supposedly works and you can
decide if you agree that this is not MLM:

You start a Facebook group invite all your friends to it. They will then be encouraged
to sign up for the Pro version of If they have had recent
lobotomies they may invite all their friends too. And so forth. If anyone of the friends
you invite (or your friends’ friends) sign up to the Pro version, you get commission.

So you earn commission from generating leads and from the leads they then
generate. I may be wrong but this form of commission-based sales hierarchy sounds
like the exact definition of a pyramid scheme (which is technically illegal).

Everyone’s a Winner (Everyone Called has two options: Free and Pro. As expected with this sort of
scam the site tells you that the free version is brilliant and will earn you up to $350,
but no more than that. But the Pro version (costing a measly $39) has the potential
to earn you enough money to buy the moon.

As is common marketing scam practice, the particle-sized disclaimer states the site
does not guarantee any actual financial gain (such a lot of information in such a
small space). But the sales pitch boasts that if 50 people sign up for the Pro version
you will receive a $350 payment.

So makes $1600 profit here. But what is to stop them from
saying you have failed to reach the 50 new signups limit and not pay you a penny?
How would you know? And the site does not mention any payment for Pro signups
fewer than 50. Very clever!

Then there is the small matter of persuading your friends to sign up. You may have
been daft enough to waste $39 on the Pro version, but can you seriously say you
know 50 people gullible enough to fall for this same scam, especially when it gets its
cheating behind uncovered?

Happy Smiley Fake People

The bottom of the site’s main sales page has a host of alleged testimonials all
praising the wonders of It does not take a genius to realize
these are faked. The pictures besides these sickly acrimonious comments are not
the sort of realistic profile pictures you would expect to find on a real Facebook

The images are probably ripped straight from online stock photography sites and the
glowing testimonials are undoubtedly the work of the product creators. I will say that
they have done a half decent job of trying to make the comments look realistic, right
down to the use of emoticon-based symbols explaining overwhelming happiness.
But it is still nothing more than self-satisfied, back-slapping, high-fiving, fictitious

And If All of This Was Not Enough

The site kindly provides even more proof that this is nothing more than a marketing
scam – a barrage of cheap, tacky, uninventive pop-ups as you try to hastily exit the

Remember the massive carpet bombing tactics used in the first Gulf War named
Operation Shock and Awe, designed to batter the opposition into early submission?
Well this is Operation Annoy and Irritate.

Designed to break your will to live, these pop-ups offers ask you if you are really
sure you wish to leave (your answer should be yes). They even pretend to show you
how to leave and exit the exit pop-ups, but this is nothing more than a stalling tactic
allowing the site to make a desperate effort to get you to click on an affiliate offer, so
they can at least make something from your visit.

It is all designed to confuse and if you are not careful you end up being redirected to
another marketing scam offer page.

Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts is a new breed of marketing scam and maybe it is a sign of
things to come. This brazen con is piggybacking on the success of Facebook and
while is claims not to be affiliated with the actual site (albeit in the minutest of terms),
it does its very best to make its offer look like it belongs to the actual Facebook site. (should that be .con?) has a slogan that reads, ‘For
facebook members from facebook members (sic)’. If the people behind this scam
are indeed Facebook members they are guaranteed to be the people that you barely
knew at school, never really liked, but insist they want to be your friend. They are the
Facebook undesirables and I urge you never to befriend them and stay well clear of
their fake scam marketing site.