What’s on the iPod: The Woodpile by Frightened Rabbit
Yesterday felt more like weekend recovery than a work day, but I did get some projects started and a few completed. It felt good to work through a stomach upset and headache and still be productive (and actually useful). Today is more of the same — a bit of work and a bit of marketing. I have three projects going right now and each has a different deadline (amen). It feels almost civilized!
I’ve been noticing some trends in promotion lately that are, well, really dumb. There. I’ve said it. I’ve heard it said that any promotion is better than no promotion. Not so. There are ways you can screw it up really, really badly. I’ve seen for myself a few instances of Promotions Gone Wild that make me wonder how these people get anyone to listen to them let alone buy from them. So here are some ways to screw up your promotional efforts without even trying (do NOT try this at home. Please):
Give bad advice that serves one person — you. You’ve seen the “advice” too — the people saying “You HAVE to do it this way or join this group in order to be successful.” Yet what they’re not telling you (and what you should deem for yourself) is how much money they’re making off leading you by the nose directly to their products and services. If you want to lose all credibility, by all means, tell people they must buy what you’re selling or they’re wasting their time.
Fail to disclose. While the above is bad, worse is the promotion where you lead someone right into a money-making opportunity for you. I know one person who haunts forums telling people the same thing — join this association because they’re so great. What isn’t being said — she makes a ton of money by selling courses and books through that very association, of which she’s an officer. What’s astounding is that in two years, she’s forgotten to bring it up every time.
Emulate your peers — identically. I saw evidence recently that one highly popular writer was being emulated right out of traffic and credibility. A follower copied this writer’s website nearly verbatim — doing that much-loathed “rewriting” of content, but using the same design, color scheme, and hey, even the same pages and page length. If you want to see yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit, just ignore property and copyright laws and steal, steal, steal….
Sell out. Jenn Mattern has a great post up about selling out and when you should draw your boundaries. But if you’ve spent time and energy railing against the very thing you’re now doing a 180 on, bam! You’ve just shot your credibility squarely between the running lights. So if you want to lose followers, friends, and any hope of career success, just take the most convenient side at the moment and push away those pesky little convictions of yours.
Scare the snot out of people. Tell me, where did it become cool to be the bearer of the Doomsday Report Du Jour? I know scare tactics work in marketing, but they should be used in moderation, not as your entire plan. And if you’re using them as your sole means of selling yourself, guess what? I’m afraid to be anywhere near you (wouldn’t want all that terror rubbing off). If the “You Can’t Do This Without Me” messaging is done to death, it becomes so much less credible than if you illustrate what’s going wrong and how you can fix it. But hey, you think you know more, so go ahead. Chase away those paying customers.
What examples are you seeing of self-promotion gone wrong?