EDITORIAL: Anyone For KillThisCliche.com?

Some Internet-related phrases unfortunately refuse to die with dignity.

On the back of an Internet retailing magazine this month is a full page ad for a direct marketing agency with the headline, “If we build it, sales will come.”

Here's a thought: let's ban all variations of “If you build it, they will come” from Internet-related communications.

An allusion to the movie “Field of Dreams,” the cliché surfaced several years ago to describe many Web site owners' launch-and-let-drift marketing philosophy.

Today, one sentence sums up that worn-out phrase: If you use it, we will groan.

Next from the tired Internet marketing phrase library comes, “It's like (some traditional form of marketing) on steroids.”

A fax arrived in the newsroom last week promoting a conference on viral marketing with the lead sentence, “It's like customer advocacy on steroids!” Customer advocacy on steroids?

What the heck does that mean? Does this form of customer advocacy — whatever that is — have acne and a propensity for becoming violent for no apparent reason?

“It's like direct mail on steroids” often appears in direct marketers' attempts to describe e-mail's power as a marketing vehicle.

Meanwhile, e-mail is immediate and that's about it. Although vendors are working furiously to allow for more marketing creativity, e-mail has yet to truly challenge the involvement devices — stamps, stickers, perforated cards, lift letters, etc. — that made direct mail great. As exciting as it is, e-mail has a hell of a long way to go before it matches the power of a good old multipiece mail package.

Lastly, but only for lack of space, comes the hacker mantra, “Information wants to be free.” The idea that digital libertarians put forth using this phrase was that through the Internet, information would become so inexpensive to distribute, copy and re-purpose, that it would be too cheap to meter.

Please. Ambiguities in “information wants to be free” aside, what a bunch of hooey.

The whole privacy debate can be boiled down to the fact that information wants to be anything but free. It wants to cost money and it wants to create wealth. The only questions are, who owns it and how much can we charge for it?

And as a professional information disseminator, this editor can confidently say that if nothing else, information wants to at least pay the bills and then buy a few beers and a good cigar on Friday night.

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