We are deluged with
SPAM and direct mail pieces daily. Market researchers
claim each of us is exposed to 100's of advertising
and related messages daily. My skin has gotten pretty
thick, I have become very effective in filtering out
99% of what I receive, much to the chagrin of
marketing professionals and agencies.
It seems, however, rather than getting smarter about marketing programs,
companies are “dumbing down” their marketing, substituting volume,
gimmickry, and noise for clear and compelling messages. They lose impact
through shoddy and unfocused execution. They adversely impact their brand
equity through poor fulfillment.
Over the years, I have kept files of some of the worst examples of marketing
I have been the victim of.
Example 1: There is the German automotive company,
focused on creating the Ultimate Driving Experience, and excelling in
serving their customers. Actually, they do excel in serving customers, but
every time I have my car serviced, I am instructed on how to complete their
customer satisfaction survey. They actually provide a copy of the survey
with every answer filled out, indicating the best service experience.
If an organization is serious about getting feedback on customer service, it
should seek the real views on customer experience. Without these unprompted
responses, organizations cannot understand what their customers want and how
Recently, in the space of 24 hours, I received four emails from a very good
software company. While each message was different, the intent was the
same: “Thank you for your interest in our products. Buy them now at…..”
There was no attempt to communicate the value I would get from their
software, no attempt to tell me anything about their features or why I would
want to use their software, and no offer to motivate me to buy it now.
Example 2: Even the junk mails that offer products to
improve my sexual performance offer a value proposition. The mail was
simply a directory of the outlets (direct and retail) where I could buy the
software. This was a lost opportunity to communicate something meaningful
about this company and its products. It could have separated the company
with a very good product from its competition. Instead, it was simply an
attempt to “peddle” software products.
However, it got worse. I simply deleted the first message, shrugging off
the bad attempt at email marketing. With the second through fourth
messages, I clicked the “Unsubscribe” button. It didn’t work, there was no
site that enabled me to unsubscribe. I was on a mission, I went to their
website, eventually found their privacy page, waded through all sorts of
legalese, and finally found a statement saying I could Opt-out by sending an
email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I sent the email, getting a
response that it was undeliverable. The final insult; each email was sent
from “Uemail@example.com (I’ll disguise the company name.).
Clearly, I wasn’t valued.
This is a massive failure in execution! Not only was the marketing program
meaningless, but none of their support mechanisms worked! If this is the
quality of their performance with prospective customers, can real customers
expect anything better? This CRM company offers its customers the promise
to mine gold—perhaps they really mean fool’s gold. Opt-in email marketing
can be a powerful tool. It is easy, fast, and inexpensive to send a strong
offers to your customers. However, the ease of doing email marketing is
causing many marketers to become lazy. Sloppy, poorly thought out programs,
executed at the speed of the Internet will produce negative results. There
has been strong backlash from businesses and consumers on this type of
stupid messaging. Not only will customers not buy, they will withdraw from
future relationships, eliminating the opportunity for the company to reach
out in future marketing efforts.
Example 3: Another software company, a giant in its
industry, offered a “webinars” on its products. The subject of the webinar
was interesting. I responded to the link to register for the webinars.
Guess what, the link did not work. After trying several times, I ended up
going to the company’s website. I eventually found the webinars and
How many prospective customers are going to spend 20 minutes trying to sign
up for a webinars where the objective is to sell something? For any email
or direct marketing piece, make sure the fulfillment channel you have chosen
works! If you ask people to click on a link to respond to an email
campaign, test it and make sure it works.
Response rates on many direct marketing programs are dropping. Don’t lose
valuable leads by not being able to fulfill the response.
Example 4: Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, I
was visiting the sales executives of a good client. They were frustrated
trying to manage an initiative the marketing people had thought of in the
last two weeks of the year. They were calling customers who had made
purchases at a certain level, offering a discount on 2004 purchases if an
agreement would be signed by year end.
It was a great offer! It could save regular customers a good amount of
money and created commitments for 2004 that would drive good sales growth.
The problem in implementation was the timing. Customers were being asked to
make a decision committing them to certain purchase volumes in the coming
year. The problem was, they had to make the commitment within about 36
hours—yes, the offer was being made in the last few days of the year. Even
customers who wanted to take advantage of the offer could not get the
approvals in time to meet the deadline.
This program could have been a very strong program. It presented clear
value to the customer. However, the implementation made it impossible for
most of the customers to take advantage of it. In some cases, the offer
created a negative impact. Frustrated customers wanting to take advantage
of the offer but could not became upset with the company. The sales people
were frustrated because they knew this would create additional hurdles in
working with these customers in the future.
In any marketing program or offer, make sure that you understand the
customer decisionmaking processes required to accept the offer. Your offer
needs to accommodate the timing required for the customer to act on the
offer. Anything else is, at best, a wasted opportunity, or, at worst,
creates negative customer feelings.
Example 5: Recently, we were involved with a client
considering purchasing a reasonably expensive software tool ($25K/seat).
The software company arranged a web conference, demonstrated the program and
answered all our questions. We asked for follow up to go the next step in
the buying process, tossing the ball into the software vendor’s court for
the next step. Several days went by and nothing happened. We sent an email
for follow-up and received a nice response. More time passed, but we still
haven’t gotten the response. In the meantime, our client is now considering
While this is not a stupid marketing trick, failure to jump on “hot”
opportunities on a timely basis results in lost sales. When customers are
in a “buying cycle,” your selling cycle needs to be synchronized with the
customer. When these cycles are out of sync, the likelihood of winning
business declines dramatically.
Example 6: am amazed at how poorly professional marketers
market themselves. Every day, I am deluged with resumes from various
services. The latest techniques are sending them through email, with a nice
note like: “I enjoyed our phone discussion, thanks for asking me to send
you my resume.” The problem is, they are always addressed to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Last I checked, we don’t have anyone named Info in
our company who had a conversation with a job applicant. Our phone records
don’t indicate anyone at our offices having conversations with these
people. Pretty soon, I expect to be getting resumes from deposed Nigerian
government employees who are willing to give me some percentage of the $75
million they have gotten if only I would give them a job……
For those searching for jobs, marketing yourself in the most professional
manner possible is critical. It is the only way to make yourself stand out
for the few jobs that are available. Don’t let the lure of the internet and
the ability to deluge thousands of people with resumes adversely impact the
most important brand you have to market—You!
Professional marketing is tough. Creating and implementing programs that
resonate with customers requires strong thinking and disciplined and
The spammers and junk mail marketers make it more difficult for professional
marketers. All customers are filtering the messages they receive through
all channels. They are less responsive to advertising, direct marketing,
email marketing, and other programs. Only the strongest and most compelling
messages will be effective.
Some of the newer marketing channels are seductive in their speed and low
cost. There is a temptation to be sloppy since the financial cost of poor
results is low. However, the long term cost of bad programs on the value of
the brand is very high. Don’t let the speed of the internet and related
channels adversely impact the quality of your messages and brand.
Good marketing communicates a message that resonates with the target
audience. Strong and compelling messages that address real needs and
communicate meaningful value to the target customers will produce results.
Professional marketing can be simple, though not necessarily easy. In your
programs, make sure:
You have a well defined audience that you want
You understand the needs of the audience and
have a compelling message that addresses those needs directly.
Your message is simple and to the point.
Clear messages do not require tricks or gimmickry.
Your offer is compelling, motivating your
audience to act on the message.
You can fulfill their response in quickly and
If you approach your customers as “idiots,”
with dumb messages and tricks, the only customers you will attract are
“idiots.” Treat you customers and prospective customers respectfully and
Throughout the process, you create value for
your customer and your brand.
It’s a shame that so many so-called marketing professionals think so poorly
of their intended audience. It’s also a shame that so many business
executives let these “marketers” foist these terrible ideas on them.
Let’s stop the stupid marketing tricks, they don’t produce business, they
create customer dissatisfaction, and they waste money and brand equity.
Raise the bar on your marketing programs to improve the results produced.
For more information on how Partners In
EXCELLENCE can help you develop and execute marketing and sales programs
that produce real results, contact us at:
email@example.com, or call us at (949)305-7146.
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development and execution of their business, marketing, sales and customer
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