Stupid Marketing Tricks: My Fatal Five

Stupid Marketing TricksI’m not a particularly difficult person to get along with, but there are certain practices in the marketing and PR field that give us all a bad name. They rise to the level of Stupid Marketing Tricks.

So whether you’re marketing your business or just marketing yourself, here are my pet peeves, dealbreakers and don’t-go-theres.

1. The Spammer Who Should Know Better

I’m not talking about the outright scams, like the Nigerian money order, the Canadian V1@gra, or the security alert from the bank I don’t have an account with. Those people I can understand—I mean, they’re crooks, after all. Spamming is what they do.

What peeves me are the otherwise legitimate businesses who should know better. I recently got three emails and two phone calls from a media company inviting me to a “meeting” that was very clearly a sales pitch. When I said I don’t use the services they sell and, by the way, how did you get my phone number, I never heard from them again.

At least do your research before you spam me. What I do is right there on my website and my LinkedIn profile and many other places. Don’t be lazy on top of stupid.

2. The Twitter Auto-DMer

It can be weird when a stranger with tens of thousands of Twitter followers decides to follow you. Sometimes you follow back and sometimes you don’t—it depends on whether they tweet interesting things, right?

But then there’s that moment where they instantly make you regret it. As soon as you hit follow you get that automatic direct message pitching their blog or mailing list or PDF or whatever it is.

This practice is roundly decried, and yet it persists. I like the comparison to cockroaches.

When I get the dreaded auto-DM, I unfollow.

3. The Non-permission Email Marketer

Don’t I feel like a chump? When I started my mailing list a few months ago, I paid attention to all those warnings telling me it’s wrong to add people to the list who haven’t specifically opted in—even friends, clients and others who know me.

So I sent an email to my contacts and posted links on social media asking people to opt in. I even posted a sample of the monthly email and later offered a free publication to encourage subscriptions.

Many joined, and many did not. Maybe it’s too much trouble. Maybe they don’t want any more email in their inbox. Maybe they’re just not interested.

And that’s totally fine with me. Because though my list is relatively small (but growing, more than doubling in size in the past month), my emails get opened at a rate that’s four times the industry average, and people click the links in those emails at ten times the average. So I feel good for having done the right thing.

And yet friends and business contacts constantly add me to their lists without my permission. For the record, it is wrong. Always has been, always will be.

4. The LinkedIn Stranger

This is another faux-pas that’s been written about extensively. If you don’t know the person you’re trying to connect with or don’t have a strong connection, do NOT use the default invitation language.

Sometimes I’ll be able to decipher things based on the timing and geography—”Oh, this guy attended a presentation I just did.” But often it’s a complete mystery.

So explain yourself. “We met at the PR luncheon on Tuesday” or “Phil Connor said we should connect.” It’s not that hard.

5. The False Promiser

This one really gets me.

“Contact me anytime with questions!” they say. Then your email goes unanswered.

“Let’s get together!” they gush. Okay, how’s your schedule look in the next couple of weeks? “Er, um, I’m pretty booked up right now … maybe … later … sometime?” Oh, I see. You were just talking.

“I’ll send it Friday!” they promise. *Crickets*

They taught us this one in grade school, I think: say what you mean, mean what you say. To me, it’s the definition of integrity.

Yet tons of people are in a constant state of stress and guilt over phone calls they haven’t returned and promises they’ve broken. I’ve found it’s far, far easier just to do that thing you said you were going to do than to spend your life kvetching about it.

Bonus Stupid Marketing Trick: The Ungrateful

Okay, I have more more than five stupid marketing tricks. But six or seven aren’t alliterative with “fatal.” So we’ll call this one a bonus peeve.

You sit down for coffee or spend time on the phone helping a colleague think through a problem or plan the next step in his career. An hour that you could have spent on paying client work or marketing your business or reading a book or any number of things.

The least he can do is thank you. Come on, people! You don’t even have to break out the stationery and stamps anymore. Just fire off a one-sentence email! You don’t even have to type up my address or fill in a subject line—just reply to the email we used to arrange the call or meet-up! You can do it on your damned phone!!!

I always try to help people who ask. But I don’t help anyone a second time who fails to thank me.

All of these people should know better. Many are professional marketers. All are adults. What the hell?

So those are my peeves. What gets your goat?


Photo Credit: FelipeArte via Compfight cc