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April 7, 2015

Is bad marketing better than no marketing?

I received an unsolicited email the other day from a company using the holidays (Easter and Passover) as a reason to communicate… not unlike so many companies do at Christmas/Hanukkah time. Now, I appreciate when somebody tries something different as a way to “break through the clutter”… and I admit, I’m not sure I have ever received an Easter/Passover promotional message before.

But the real problem was the message itself… It was simply one short sentence. That’s it!

Now, I’m as big a fan of brevity as the next guy… but there was no real thought behind it. No real value. Not even a nice story in the message. It’s as if the sender tried to do the absolute least amount of work possible, just to get out an email for Easter so they could say they were doing something.

All-in-all… an OK strategy – but lousy execution.

Here’s my point… I see a lot of bad marketing in our industry. Poorly thought-out, haphazard, hastily-executed tactics – just to do something. Anything. And the worst offenders are these…

  1. Lousy print ads. Don’t believe me? Just flip through any issue of Quirk’s – you’ll see a bunch of them. It’s as though a company executive woke up one morning and said, “Oh crap… our ad is due to Quirk’s today – and I have no idea what I’m gonna do.” So they quickly throw together a shi**y ad and send it in. But hey… at least they have an ad in a national publication, right?
  1. Bad emails. The one I wrote about above is not the worst kind (and believe me, there are plenty to choose from!). I think the worst are those from focus group facilities (and I was the President of a FG company for 6 years) that highlight some sort of special promotion… “Hello everyone, it’s our spring-has-sprung sale! Let us recruit two groups for you and the room is free!” It just comes across as cheesy and honestly, makes the facility look desperate to fill up empty rooms.
  1. Salesy social media. It’s an easy scenario to imagine… the boss decides that his firm needs “a social media presence.” And so, his minions do what they’re instructed to do – place a post on their LinkedIn profiles, their Twitter and Facebook sites and in 10 or 11 different LinkedIn groups. The trouble is, the post is a blatant ‘sales pitch,’ and it’s doing the exact opposite of what social media marketing is meant to do.

Here’s the moral of the story… stop treating marketing as your firm’s red-headed stepchild. It should be as important and integral a function in your business as client projects and finance. And I know you take the time to plan for and think through those.

When you don’t give any thought (a.k.a. any effort) to your marketing initiatives, two things happen:

  1. They don’t work. Period.
  2. They reflect badly on your firm – giving the impression that you’re cheap, amateurish or worse, don’t plan and execute well.

If your firm is in the business of delivering bad marketing… let me suggest that you just STOP right now. You’ll be better off in the end.

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