Tuesday Take: How to Blow it with Ineffective Marketing

What I’m listening to: Iceberg by We Invented Paris

megaphone-3-1183475-1279x850Another week, another project list to work through. I have an ongoing project that I’ve been chipping away at. This week’s workload, so far, is light, so I may have a chance to really catch up. I have one article assignment due this week, and I’m chasing a contact, which isn’t ideal right now as it’s a project that the client gets to review before publication. I can’t write it on the fly, so I’m doing what I can to get the majority of it finished as I wait.

There’s also a chance to get a personal project roughed in. The writing on it is still in progress, but I have ideas that need to hit paper.

The added time has given me a chance to review some of my email and snail mail pieces. There are so many attempts to draw our attention that I thought I’d slow down, look at what’s working to get my attention, and what’s keeping it.

One case stands out, and not in a good way.

I had bought a product from a seller not long ago. It fit what I needed, went beyond what I expected, and left me feeling satisfied. I felt I’d spent my money wisely.

Not long after, I wished I’d never bothered.

At first, there was a lot of follow-up email related to what I’d bought. It was relevant. Even so, I thought to myself ‘You can’t say that in one email instead of six?’

Soon though, the emails were upselling me on the seller’s other products. I get it — you have a warm lead (or even a proven buyer) and you don’t want to let that go. I’m willing to overlook that, even if the product doesn’t fit my needs or my budget.

Then it was every day. Every. Damn. Day. The notes ranged in content, but the them went something like this:

“The one product you can’t do business without!”

“This product is built for you!”

“Special discount until noon today!”

“Hurry! Space is filling up in the latest course!”

“Discount expires in 3 days- register now!”

“Lori, don’t miss your chance to save money!”

“Last chance!”

The use of exclamation points alone make me delete emails. If your product is great, you won’t need to shout.

I really liked the seller’s first product, so I let a lot of the oversell go. But after a month, I couldn’t stand it anymore. It was too much. Worse, it was coming from someone who was selling … a course on how to market.

Please. Stop. No really, STOP.

I opted out of all emails. That was the end of that.

Only, it wasn’t.

A month later, the notes started coming in through the mail. The same pitches, but this time in a form I can’t opt out of. I actually groaned in frustration.

That, my friends, should not be the way your target audience reacts to hearing from you. Your messages shouldn’t cause people to groan.

So what went wrong?

The messages were too frequent. Every day is too often. I don’t care what marketing book or guru is saying otherwise, but imagine being the recipient. If you can honestly say you’d love to hear from the same person trying to sell you something every day, then either you’ve got the best message in the world or you’re delusional. Moderation. Please.

The messages felt like 80 percent sales. Yes, the seller sent other things, but the majority of the messages were sales pitches. Hell, they could have been 50/50 (they may have been) and it wouldn’t have mattered after a while. I stopped opening even the “free” content.

The seller broke the first rule of marketing. Okay, maybe not the first rule, but a big one — do not market with the goal of securing a sale. Yes, maybe you’re selling and not marketing, which you think makes it okay to “sell” in every note. But know this: Any sales letter becomes overbearing if you’re sending too many of them.

There was no measurement involved. Had this seller really been good at marketing, there would have been a way to measure why buying customers suddenly weren’t buying. No survey, no poll asking about pricing or content, no meaningful attempt to take the customer’s temperature happened. Like I said, the product was great. However, I’m not willing to pay hundreds of dollars more than what I’d paid. I’m just not, no matter who or what it is. I’m willing to bet most of the seller’s targeted audience felt the same way.

The message remained the same. Look, if you don’t get a response from your buying audience on three tries, it could be time to change the message. Or time to review the elements of your offering. But if I’m not responding to your email messaging (and particularly if I’ve opted out) and you send me a snail-mail version of the same message, you’re overlooking something major. Either I’m not interested or something about your message isn’t compelling enough.

The product promise fell short. I mean, in the second case it was marketing skills I was being sold. And yet they lost me with so many pitches. How will that kind of approach — which turns off a good portion of my intended audience — actually help?

Writers, how have you seen marketing/sales overdone?

What examples of ineffective marketing have you seen?

What does it take for you to buy something? How would you like sellers to reach you?

How are you applying that thinking in your own marketing?

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  • Cathy Miller September 27, 2016 at 10:02 am

    What’s sad about this whole scenario, Lori, is the seller started out on a good foot. Then used that foot to kick his customers in the head. Over and over again. I just can’t believe if the shoe was on the other foot (apparently I have a foot fetish this morning), 😉 that he wouldn’t hate the daily emails, too.

    And you know, it can happen even with the very best. For over a year, I allowed a marketer into my email on a Sunday. Normally, I NEVER willingly allow someone to do that. He had great emails. He was engaging. But, I realized I was beginning to delete them more quickly. I grew weary of having the quiet of a Sunday morning broken by emails that smacked of my work life (no matter how gently).

    I opted out of everything he had. And just the other day I realized the incredible sense of relief I was feeling. I don’t care what guru or report tells you Sunday is the best day to send emails/pitches or some other variation. If you never turn it off, eventually your customers will.

    • lwidmer September 27, 2016 at 11:09 am

      That is the sad part, Cathy. This seller had something great — probably still does. But the repetition, the long emails that came in almost daily, the sales, the reminders…. it was just too much.

      On a Sunday? That’s weird! Why would anyone think emailing on a Sunday was a good idea? I suppose in some marketing book or course it’s been touted as a time when people aren’t being inundated with messages demanding their attention, but since I don’t look at my emails on the weekends, those notes would be the first to be deleted on Monday morning. I have a tendency to go through my emails on Monday keeping only those things that are absolutely necessary — and sales emails are not.

      The curse of wading through the hundred or so emails that come in over the weekend would make me want to send my emails out during the work week.