Failed Marketing Tools: Lets Name And Shame

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Marketing in the wrong hands is a costly and wasteful experience.

First of all, please don’t think this is an article that paves the way for a ‘contact us’ message at the end.

Lets kick things off by saying that we need to stop trying to solve problems via the communication methods that were pertinent 10 years ago. The issues on the table today are totally different from the ones that were here a decade ago.

We still see it everywhere with the interruption of product-based messages, ego-driven self congratulatory ‘about us’ website pages, the return on advertising doesn’t justify the expenditure and local press business pages cutting and pasting ‘me-too’ press releases.

We Can’t Keep With The Way It’s Always Been

It is lazy and irresponsible for marketers to settle for the way that brand exposure and persuasion has always been by resorting to tactics that are now out of kilter with the way that business (and society behaves). It’s a bit like a parent buying their child a Tamagotchi for their birthday and saying that people still buy them.

I noticed things had to change for my business when the person who was responsible for sales, treated everyone that they spoke to exactly the same. Every person they came into conversation with was driven by what they thought the prospect should be reacting to ie. two or three heavy sales calls and then the expectation of a sale, rather than understanding that to build any form of relationship takes time and an understanding of the prospect, their market and what makes them tick.

I hold my hands up and say that this was a process that was wrong for my business which has now moved to creating relevant information for a marketplace to become more educated and informed and understanding that to build engagement, needs to be on someone else’s terms rather than an imaginary ‘buy before next Friday’ message (hands up…done that). But many businesses still use this as an angle of attack to throw their sales messages to every business in the hope to gain attention.

The Failed Marketing List Of Shame

We can’t build our businesses on expectation and what has been accepted as the way to brand anymore. Without getting carried away, if any of these from the list of shame are a key feature in your current marketing activity, time to sit down and then put the kettle on (but it’s ok, there is a solution):

  • The ‘subscribe to our newsletter’ prompt on your homepage or even better when the word ‘FREE’ is included (when ever did a newsletter have monetary value?)
  • Keyword stuffing and the SEO promise of being recognised by cramming words that are relevant to your business, which are now being recognised for the wrong reasons. Have a read here of a ‘bad seo’ article.
  •  Repeating the same message on every social platform. By synching your Facebook updates with your Twitter account that reads as complete nonsense when links have less characters on one channel compared to another. It only takes a few minutes to cater your message for each channel you use.
  • Press advertising to boast how good you are and to dictate a message to an audience with 100% product benefits and not the reason why your product or service solves problems for others. The customer is never the star, merely a walk on role, that doesn’t even have a speaking part.
  • Flat PR messages to brag. By thinking that the way for others to buy into you is sharing a flat press release based on how noble your efforts are to work with a charity in the local area, entering an award and making it to the final (before the winner is announced) or the new Account Executive are ways to pursue industry credibility, left the building in 2001.
  • Website content focused on how good your business is. No one is bothered on why you offer the best customer service and why your staff live and breath the company ethos. The ‘about us’ page has become stuff of corporate hot air and the equivalent of being at a networking event and someone taking to the centre of the room and saying ‘hands up who likes me?’
  • Purchasing a database of strangers thinking that you will build a rapport after one email is sent expecting a return. We can’t rely on media companies to help deliver our message through paying for people who have no idea who we are, expecting them to open the door and welcome us in.
  • Websites becoming a regurgitation of printed sales collateral. It can become too easy for one piece of communications to be a carbon copy of the other, regardless of how your audience prefers to consume their preferred type of media. The overt sales message from the brochure becoming a cut and paste effort for a website, lacks any creativity or appreciation of an audience who are willing to build a conversation.

The Solution

Rather than this becoming an article that looks at tactics that may not have the same strength as they once had when they sit in isolation. Everything highlighted above centres around the message that people don’t buy your product anymore, they buy into the approach you provide to help solve their problems. Content is not the king, it’s the driving force behind engaging with others via the media channel that they prefer to consume.

I’m not saying that traditional media has had it’s day ie. namely print and advertising, it’s just that the conversation has shifted to a multitude of places. This has been brought on by the social empowerment of the web plus the traditional distribution of media now being democratised, allowing anyone to create, curate and distribute to the audiences that they target, build and control.

The information overload world that we are all part of was created by us. The answer is not about creating more press releases, more pdf downloads, daily blog articles, greater presence on Twitter, more landing pages, it is all about grabbing the attention of our audience in the places where they are aware of us and keep it with compelling and engaging content.

The challenge for businesses is not to put the focus on sharing the ‘contact us’ page on every message as a sign-off, but to:

  • Become focused on a targeted audience (and positioned as the logical choice)
  • Change from transactional to become more conversational
  • Invite customers to become more involved in the solutions for others
  • Commitment to an ongoing conversation
  • It’s still ok to use traditional methods, such as printed newsletters, just deliver these to an audience who know you
  • Create a passionate point of view
  • Aggregate your own audience rather than thinking that buying a database is the answer
  • Consistent quality not sporadic dictation
  • Understand that relationships take time to be nurtured
  • Be present. Automation is horrible when you broadcast when you’re not there

What has worked for me is channelling the stories and messages via a source (the company website), accompanied by the blog and email and then using distribution channels (social media) to encourage exchange and bring conversation to the places where you have ownership (your website, blog and email).

Keeping our heads in the sand believing that we can stick with yesterdays marketing tools is a recipe for failure. As businesses we have many ways to engage, connect, share and grow, it’s up to us to use the channels and platforms we have properly and responsively.

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