A letter to bad marketers: 9 tips to improve your marketing

Posted by Faye on April 30, 2011 in Marketing & Social Media |

9 tips (with a few rants) to help improve your marketing

I don’t claim to be a marketing genius. In fact I’d like to think that there’s always something new to learn every day in the world of marketing. And I will always be a perpetual student of social media.

But I have seen some really bad examples of marketing out there, especially in the social media world. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of bad marketing as well. So to that end, I’ve crafted a letter to the bad marketers in the hopes that they recognize themselves. You know who you are.

Dear marketer,

As I ponder the various choices of a product I am considering purchasing (including yours), I hope that as you consider me a prospective customer, you show me the value of your offering and treat me with a little respect. Please take note of the following:

  • Your website might be my first impression of your business. Please make it easy for me to navigate to find what I’m looking for. Remember my time is limited. Also, if you want me to buy something directly on the site, offer me a way to find out what my shipping charges will be before I click the “submit” button.
  • When you ask me for my email address as I make a purchase from your website, please don’t use that opportunity to spam me. I submitted my email address to get a purchase confirmation and order tracking information. If you’re going to send me offers or special deals, please give me a way to receive “frequent” or “occasional” messages that I deem relevant to my needs.
  • For those Facebook friends of mine who are business owners, please don’t use my wall as a billboard for your advertising message in an attempt to build your audience with my Facebook friends. That’s the quickest way to get unfriended (and lose future sales). FYI, Facebook offers businesses some advertising options to target your specific audience. You will get a better ROI there than from my Facebook friends.
  • If you’re going to have a social media presence, please indicate that in all of your marketing materials, advertising, and especially links on your website. I accidentally stumbled into your social media community without remembering how I got there (it wasn’t from your website). Make it easy for us prospective customers to join your community!
  • Conversely, if you’ve set up social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or a blog, but haven’t bothered to update them since 2010, then please don’t promote those networks on your website, in your advertising, or in any of your marketing collateral. I would think it would be rather embarrassing for you as your prospective customers click on the “Find us on Facebook” button on your website, only to discover a wall full of posts and links from spammers raving about the latest weight-loss scam.

  • And speaking of social networks, if you are going to do a promotion on any of the social networks, please inform your employees working the front lines. I don’t believe it’s my job to explain my Foursquare check-in discount to a clueless cashier.
  • While we’re on the subject of Foursquare, IMHO, business owners and employees should not be checking in to their own venues.  I recently checked in to a shop where the owner was the mayor. What’s up with that? Give your customers the opportunity to compete for the “mayorship.” And offer your mayor a special deal. Location-based social networks are the digital world’s loyalty cards for your customers, not for you or your employees.
  • Here’s a helpful Twitter tip: Please check your @Mentions regularly. I might be talking to you. There’s nothing that says “I don’t care about my customers” more than a company that is using social media to put out one-way marketing messages, instead of communicating with customers.
  • Which brings me to my final point. Your Facebook and Twitter accounts are not alternative sales channels. I can tolerate and will expect an occasional pitch for your products, but it gets annoying when you try to sell me something in every wall post and tweet. That’s a sure way to get “unfollowed” and “unliked.”


A prospective customer

I have seen and/or witnessed all of the above examples, including visiting confusing and hard-to-navigate websites. Now it’s your turn. Without identifying specific companies (so as not to embarrass said companies), what are some of the bad marketing examples that you have seen out there?

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  • Bonnie says:

    This one is aimed at small business owners who use lists, such as their local chamber, as well as their collection of business cards to create an email list. Then they send out newsletters and promotions on a frequent basis without a link to unsubscribe.

    I like to retaliate by adding them to my newsletter list(s). *I dare them to unsubscribe!* Not very mature but makes me feel better!

  • Faye says:

    Bonnie, that’s a great one, and it reminds me of when I hand out my business cards at a networking event. For some reason the recipients believe that I gave them permission to add me to their email list. And it is really frustrating when you are not given a link to unsubscribe.

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