Do Marketers Always Kill the Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs?
Why are we compelled to judge entire groups of people by the “worst” that group has to offer?
- Hockey players are violent.
- Public relations professional are spin-meisters.
- New Yorkers are rude.
- New Englanders are thrifty.
- Southerners are, well, southern!
I think of this phenomenon often as the subject comes up frequently among my friends and peers – usually as it relates to their specific professions. As a member of three of the most widely hated groups known to man (lawyers, salesmen and SEOs), I see this sort of thing regularly. I can’t even go a few days without hearing a crass comment or a rude joke about one of my three roles. Thank heavens for my acting degree and my role as a father or I’d have developed a serious complex by now. But, I digress.
Yesterday, I read my friend Mark Schaefer’s excellent blog post about how much love and pride he has being in marketing, and how much he truly loves Marketing. I love it to!
And yet… I’d like to make the case for including marketers in the category of world-class gits.
I cannot help but look around and see all the stuff we marketers have utterly and completely ruined in the name of marketing – or in the name of marketing results. The reality is we’ve effed up damn near everything we’ve ever touched – but ESPECIALLY the things that were scalable.
In short we have a terrible habit of killing off the goose that laid the golden eggs.
Just a few examples to support my case:
- Email spam. Email spam is an impressive industry. As of 2010, 89% of all emails were spam. That’s 260 billion spam messages per day. Crazy. Of course email that’s targeted to the right person with the right message at the right time is less likely to be “perceived” as spam – but if it’s unsolicited, isn’t it still spam? You tell me. I know I’ve spammed people via email in search of results. Have you?
- Junk Mail. Prior to screwing up email, we did everything in our power to screw up regular old mail. Experts estimate that over 71% of all mail is sent to prospects. What’s worse, junk mail or email spam? You tell me. The amount of junk mail is down over the last several years, but that’s primarily due to the rise of Internet Marketing coupled with mailing preference services that serve as opt out systems for addressed and unsolicited mail.
- Robocalls. Once again technology rears its ugly head. Political campaigns now have the ability to call more people in less than time than ever. So glad I got rid of my land line. I’ve received exactly no political phone calls this year. None.
- Blog Comments. Marketers single-handedly killed off the utility of blog comments years ago by spamming blogs relentlessly with comments containing links back to their web sites. Why? Because Google valued those links in their search engine algorithm. The problem got so bad that Google responded by creating a new tag rel=nofollow and stopped counting links from within blog comment systems in their algorithm. A billions of spammers wept.
- Blog posts. Until recent updates to Google’s algorithm, crappy content was able to get through the system and sometimes win the day and dominate for specific searches. It got so bad that some “internet marketers” used something known as article spinning software that could pump out dozens and dozens of the same article reworded enough to bypass Google’s filter. They would then use other software programs to submit these articles to hundreds of “article marketing” web sites. Ugh. This is marketing?
- Infographics. Infographics have become the marketing tactic du jour, have they not? Let me be clear. A well-crafted infographic can convey more information, and do so more clearly and more elegantly than reams of data or narration. The problem is that the word is out that people love them, read them and link back to them (there’s that Google influence again). The end result? Piles and piles of infographic rubbish. Poorly designed, ill-thought-out pablum pumped out the same way articles were spun months ago. It’s amateur hour in the infographic world – and it PISSES ME OFF! Want an example? How about this blog post that was turned into an infographic. There is NO REASON for this infographic to exist. None. Write a damn blog post instead.
- PR Pitches. If you’re a blogger, I can GUARANTEE you’ve seen them. Pitches so poorly targeted that my ten year old could have done a better job with an internet connection and a few hours. But is this marketing? I sure think it is. One of my favorite things is when my PR friends send me misaligned pitch emails with the caption “I hate PR people!” Hahaha!
I realize not all marketers are spammers, or engage in spamalicious activities. But we as a profession sure are in the habit of killing off the goose that lays the golden eggs! We move from one communication channel to the next destroying all good will with our prospective customers. Considering that track record, I find myself regularly sitting back in my chair and wondering what the f#$k? How is it have we come to this? How did we get here?
I think it’s a lack of empathy. Great marketers (and all great business leaders) have an ability to put themselves in the shoes of their audience and craft communication messages, in communication channels that RESONATE and have meaning. Devolving to spam tactics is equivalent to throwing up your hands and admitting you can’t actually do that. You’ve given up on creating a message that compels an action and jumped over to the other team – the team that relies on a .001% response rate to make money. A numbers game. A racket.
Why not instead commit to doing the incredibly HARD WORK that blows the numbers away. The work that requires crafting an original message that will resonate with your audience and creatively put that message in front of your prospects in a way that doesn’t feel spammy, invasive or creepy.
Who’s with me?
Images courtesy of lansingit, Tatiana12 and arnold | inuyaki via flickr creative commons.