Well folks, the cyber-hustlers are at it again. Those digital doofuses who have no marketing expertise but call themselves marketers.
This image has been chasing me around social media for a while, promoting something that doesn’t exist in marketing ‘paid advertising‘.
Advertising by its very definition is media that has been paid for. The marketer buys time or space and controls the message content. I suspect the author really means “Paid Media”, but is not experienced enough to know the difference.
Here’s the modern marketing parlance for media labels:
Paid media – which is all advertising. Marketers pay for time or space and own the content of the advertisement in any media.
Owned media – which includes advertising but also websites, signage, sponsorship, events, trade stands, marketing collateral, sales presentations, point of sale etc – any analogue or digital marketing assets.
Earned media – traditionally public relations, but now includes any marketing content shared or commented about in analogue or digital channels, by experts, journalists, commentators and to a lesser extent in terms of credibility, influencers and social media connections.
And now, the aim of marketers is to get as much of your paid, owned and earned media to become shared media – in analogue and digital channels. To use another recent buzzword, this amplifies your message. There are many examples of brands earning $Millions and even $Billions of media value as a result of their marketing messages being shared, or ‘going viral’.
But let’s unpack the ‘paid advertising’ sponsored message, as it reveals amateurs played a big role in its creation:
The first sentence has a typo: “We’ve brought together some greatest minds…” – it should read: “We’ve brought together some of the greatest minds…“
But who are these minds you ask?
Why is the fact the author has studied a medium size advertising agency worth noting? $63 million and 19 accounts – agencies of this size have been operating for decades. What’s significant?
The final subheading differs from the rest: “The state of advertising in 2022” – what happened to “paid advertising“?
Just as headlines that start with “The art of <insert subject matter here>” are a complete waste of time, so too are headlines that start with “The state of <insert subject matter here>“
They are glib and weak, reflecting the fact no thought has gone into the piece of communication.
But given the declining expertise in modern marketers, many may not notice the errors. For all I know the event went well – though I suspect a better headline might have been:
“FREE 5-Hour Seinfeld workshop – the workshop about nothing”
At first I thought it was a joke, particularly given my post yesterday about the appalling social selling spammers on LinkedIn.
But alas, no. Today I get an unsolicited “LinkedIn Offer” in my personal messages – which is nothing near an offer at all.
An offer has two parts:
What the prospect gets
What the prospect must do to get it
It is as rank-amateurish as it is insulting. It is from someone I don’t know and am not connected to on the platform. And the author didn’t include his mug shot, to make his effort seriously low-rent.
Let’s dissect this anti-social selling message shall we:
There are a bunch of marketing words under the author’s name – Digital Marketing | Performance Marketing | E-Commerce | Paid Media |
I’ve never understood the term “Performance Marketing” – as against Under-Performance Marketing; Cancelled-Performance Marketing; Non-Performance Marketing; Matinee-Performance Marketing? We work in “marketing” – be proud of the fact you are a Marketing Manager/Director et al. You don’t need to put adjectives in front of your job title to big yourself up – it works against your reputation, not for it.
There is “LinkedIn Offer” in the margin above the message.
The salutation is a dead giveaway it’s amateur hour – “Hi Malcolm!” – well the exclamation mark is the giveaway.
There are only two sentences that are supposed to sway me to part with my cash. The first breaks most rules of selling:
“Are you ready to start achieving your marketing goals?“
Never ask a question with a yes/no answer. The majority of readers will answer “no” and ignore the rest of the message. If you are going to lead with a question, use a rhetorical one.
What does this mean – “Am I ready to start achieving…” Well maybe I’m ready to start, maybe I’m not? Maybe I’m almost ready to start, but need to think about it? Or I maybe I’m ready to start but not really ready to kick-on to achievement, because I prefer to under-achieve?
The sentence should never have been written, but makes more sense as, “Are you ready to achieve your marketing goals?” Though it still uses passive language with a yes/no answer.
The second sentence is also abominable:
“With LinkedIn ads, you can generate higher quality leads for your business and build lasting impact.“
Higher quality than what? Higher quality than lower quality leads? Higher quality than the best quality leads I’ve ever generated? Higher quality at ten times the price, or half the price?
There is no support for this vacuous claim – no social proof that LinkedIn ads work for any business similar to mine. Nothing. Just a glib statement from someone whose job it is to sell advertising on LinkedIn and hasn’t bothered to understand their market.
Who trains these people? Why are they let loose in the marketing industry without any skills?
LinkedIn should be ashamed of itself, it this is what passes off as a professional way to generate high quality leads.
In case you’re wondering here is a rough breakdown LinkedIn’s revenue streams:
65% recruitment advertising
20% direct advertising by companies
15% Premium subscriptions
So I am assuming he is selling the direct advertising service? I have no idea, as he doesn’t say.
The three calls to action aren’t worth commenting on, as they are so lame.
I repeat what I said yesterday: “Sending unsolicited spam through marketing automation tools, under the guise of social selling on LinkedIn, is a disgraceful reflection on our industry – and it needs to stop now.
Just because a marketing clerk can type doesn’t mean they can write. Hire professionals to write your copy, as you damage your brand every time you use amateurs.
And please LinkedIn, stop this nonsense, if only for the sake of the marketing industry’s reputation and we poor sods who work in it. You’re embarrassing us all…
It’s a simple truth – “the more that sales and marketing executives rely on technology to do their hard yards, the more likely they will fail“. So I open this article with a statement:
Sending unsolicited spam through marketing automation tools, under the guise of social selling on LinkedIn, while lying in the message content, is a disgraceful reflection on our industry – and it needs to be stopped now.
This sponsored example arrived today from a Marketing Manager who I am not connected to, nor have I ever met:
Let’s dissect it shall we.
“Happy Holidays!” – this arrived on the 9th January, so holidays are already over for most people, including me. It also smacks of wokeness – as it is the default message designed to replace “Merry Christmas” so as not to offend the outrage community.
This singular phrase is used – “I’m reaching out...” As everyone knows, only creeps and assailants “reach out” – and there is an existing protocol for using “reach out” in business.
The author then says: “my team noticed The Content Brewery is actively looking into topics around improving pipeline impact with marketing automations & new tech.”
Firstly, how does her team know I’m actively looking into said topics? How big is this team? Why is it spying on me?
The fact is, she is lying.
I don’t search using “The Content Brewery” and I’ve never searched for anything to do with “improving pipeline impact with marketing automations & new tech” – I don’t even know WTF it means. What is she talking about?
Why can’t marketers speak plain English? You don’t make a better impression by using a jargoniser – you just confirm the fake or amateur try-hard that you really are.
Then she switches from the singular to the plural – “We’d love to connect…” I don’t care a toss what you’d love to do. What’s In It For Me? This is a failure of fundamental 101 sales technique. And if we are not even connected on LinkedIn, why would I let you “explore my priorities?”
Continuing, the sentence says, “…share how our marketing & sales team uses Workato to build automations easily…” So she wants to show me how her company uses her product, not how companies like mine benefit from using the product. And WTF is an “automations?” I’ve never desired to “build automations” in my life.
The jargoniser rolls on: “real time lead routing” – I suspect she means “managing responses”. As for “improved pipeline forecasting” I have no need for whatever this is.
The sign off is just sad – “Let’s connect soon!” How soon? Tomorrow? Next month? 2023? Why wait? And it’s supported by a screen shot of a Zoom meeting – I have no idea who is in the tiny image.
The response devices don’t even allow me to contact the author by return message. I can only do one of these:
Schedule a chat now!
See MKT Automation eBook – (it appears to be a typo, as it makes no sense)
Learn more about Workato
I checked the Workato website and still struggle to understand what the company does. One of the subheadings on the home page says: “It’s easy to build complex workflows across your entire organization.” The last thing any marketer wants is complex workflows – we all want simple, uncomplex workflows.
This unsolicited digital-drivel – written by a typist not a copywriter – is another nail in the coffin of the reputation of the marketing industry.
So, I am going to take a stand and demand that marketers look harder at their marketing activity and invest in professionals to do the work. Just because you can type does not mean you can write marketing messages – as this unsolicited sponsored post demonstrates. Again I say:
Sending unsolicited spam through marketing automation tools, under the guise of social selling on LinkedIn, while lying in the message content, is a disgraceful reflection on our industry – and it needs to be stopped now.
There, I’ve had my rant for the day – let’s hope 2022 only gets better for all of us and professionalism prevails – despite that little thing called a pandemic, raging outside…
Marketers are a strange lot. They actively ignore the lessons of history rather than learn from them. And then repeat the same mistakes, over and over. So-called digital marketers are exemplary performers of this behaviour.
Around 35 years ago, as a result of marketers flooding residential letterboxes with too much irrelevant mail, the “Do Not Mail” register was created. It allowed consumers to opt-out of mailing lists so they wouldn’t be sent unwanted marketing messages.
Then around 30 years ago, as a result of marketers abusing the privilege of calling people on their home landlines, the “Do Not Call” register was created. It allowed consumers to opt-out of telephone lists so they wouldn’t get unwanted calls from telemarketers.
At the turn of the century, and in record time from the commencement of a new marketing channel, the “Spam Act” was legislated to stop marketers sending unsolicited emails. It only took marketers a few years to fully abuse email, forcing laws to be introduced globally to stop them.
So now it is illegal to send unsolicited commercial marketing messages to consumers and workers via their email address, unless they opt-in to a list or database. Though some dodgy operators are still scraping email addresses from websites and trying their luck.
But we never learn do we?
Because, rather than do the right thing, marketers are now getting around the Spam Act.
It’s hidden behind the fancy buzzwords of “Social Selling” and here’s how it works. Ironically it’s completely anti-social selling, but who cares about the details?
Step 1 – Somehow get convinced by an alleged social selling expert to ignore what has always worked, as the future of B2B marketing is social selling on LinkedIn.
Step 2 – Use LinkedIn’s automation tools to solicit massive numbers of (often irrelevant) connections.
Step 3 – Once an executive accepts a connection, go to town spamming them with unsolicited automated messages – most of which you’d never email or mail to said executive. The assumption being that because of the ‘connection’, the social seller has carte blanche to send as much spam as they like without repercussions.
Step 4 – Increase your illegal spam. Some social sellers also double-up and replicate their unsolicited LinkedIn messages via unsolicited email, in case the new connection missed their messages on LinkedIn. This is entirely illegal and in breach of the Spam Act. They’ve simply scraped your email address from your LinkedIn profile, wrongly assuming they have permission to do so.
Maybe LinkedIn should create a “STOP SOCIAL SELLING” digital badge to put on your profile? Though I doubt it – they’d lose too much money.
I’m unsure what qualifies as the worst part of social selling spam:
Firstly, there’s the one-size-fits-all automated solicitations.
Then there is the one-size-fits-all follow-up message to get an appointment, despite knowing nothing about the prospect. For example, I have a brand called The Content Brewery – I regularly get proposals from salespeople selling beer and coffee equipment, because the stupid social selling algorithm is using keywords to target prospects. After all, why should a salesperson use their brain to think, when they can use an algorithm instead?
Then there are the “definitive guides” – that are only definitive for the product or service the salesperson is flogging.
And of course, the fake thought-leadership articles, most likely created by outsourcing to Fivver.com.
There are legitimate consultants in the social selling space
They practice what good B2B salespeople have done since the 1950’s when Account Based Marketing (ABM) was invented – there’s nothing new in B2B marketing. They manage a database of prospects and a database of customers, using appropriate contact strategies for each. (more here) They communicate with relevance and respect. LinkedIn is just another way to add contacts to your database and do what has always been done in lead and sales generation. To think otherwise is simply naive.
But I often get the feeling that many of the alleged social selling experts have never sold anything in their life except: “How to get rich by selling the secrets of how to get rich with social selling“.
It’s why so much social selling has become the new spam
Driven by marketing automation, and devoid of any copywriting skills, salespeople blindly pump out vacuous messages in a numbers game, while ticking off their KPIs for ‘total contacts made‘.
If you’re in B2B marketing, you need to tread carefully using digital-first tactics. Direct mail with QR codes linked to landing pages is still the most powerful lead generation channel, apart from face-to-face. And as social selling zealots have ignored direct mail, the opportunities using mail are enormous.
It’s easy to test the success (or otherwise) of social selling spam
Simply reply to one of the automated solicitations and say you’re not a prospect. One of two things will happen. Either nothing, because the reply isn’t monitored, or you’ll get a thank-you response from a shocked salesperson. They are stunned that a human replied.
Apparently very few executives respond to social selling spam – I wonder why?
If you have similar experiences, please share them with me.
But I have to go now, I just got a LinkedIn invitation: “I’m glad we have a platform where we can connect with like-minded business people. Would love the opportunity to connect and share insights with you if you’re open to it?“
As any experienced marketer knows, one of the casualties of the digital marketing industry has been the quality of marketing communication. The majority of digital marketing messages don’t communicate at all, let alone persuade.
The reason is simple – the marketing messages are written by typists, not copywriters.
I’ve written about this problem before. It also afflicts photography – but that’s another story.
Today I was again reminded of this sad reality. This time in an email from Facebook – more frequently known as Facecrook.
The From Line said the email was from ‘Lara F. from Facebook‘. Any person writing to you who doesn’t reveal their surname, instantly creates a red flag. Are they a human or a bot? Is this phishing or sp*m? Can they be trusted?
The first sentence said: “I wanted to reach out because I noticed you haven’t yet had a chance to take advantage of your free consultation with our team of Facebook Marketing Experts.“
Firstly, only creeps and assailants ‘reach out’ – there is a rule for using the term ‘reach out’ in business:
The sentence is moronic in its meaning. I have had a chance to take advantage of the free (best written FREE) consultation – but I just haven’t bothered to take a chance. I don’t want a consultation – let alone from a ‘team’ of alleged Facebook Marketing Experts – all with initial capitals in their job title.
Lara F. then continues: “We’ll be available to connect during business hours, Monday through Friday.” Again, what does “available to connect” mean? Talk on the phone? Have a video conference call? Chat on Messenger? Swap messages using homing pigeons?
And thank you for wanting to do business during business hours – very generous. Why would I want to do business with Lara F. after hours?
She continued: “We know you’re new to Facebook Ads, and that’s okay. You don’t need to prepare anything before the call because we’ll start by:”
Wrong! Thanks for playing.
I’ve been doing Facebook ads since Facebook ads were available. Why make such a false claim? And why is it OK that ‘they’ know I am supposedly new to Facebook ads? Poor Lara F. doesn’t even understand the subject of the sentence she wrote.
Here is what followed “…because we’ll start by:”
Learning about your business and typical customers.
Understanding your goals and how best to help you.
Providing resources tailored to help you grow your business.
If you are “reaching out” to me about my business, wouldn’t you do some homework first? Rule 101 of B2B marketing – understand your customer. If Lara F. doesn’t know about my business and typical customers, why the hell does she assume Facebook is a channel worth using?
And why would I share my company goals with a strange team I’ve never met, or a person without a surname?
The email was only three sentences – but had way more than three fundamental errors. The first sentence started with “I”. The second with “We’ll” and the third with “We”. Not one sentence started with the word ‘you’ or ‘your’ or ‘you’re’. In the three sentences there were six uses of “I”, “we” and “our” – completely abusing “The You Rule” of copywriting. (See Below)
The subject of the message was mainly Facebook, not me the recipient of the message, whose business Lara F. is chasing.
There are two major problems with this email:
It was not written by a copywriter, it was written by a typist with a poor grasp of writing
It relies on marketing automation, which suggests minimal human involvement, hence so many errors or ability for me to respond
I did try to reply to Lara F. but the message didn’t really come from her. It came via a marketing automation system with the address firstname.lastname@example.org – another giveaway of the low trust and quality of the message and sender.
I’m sure if Lara F. needed surgery, she’d want an experienced surgeon with the requisite skills for the job. She wouldn’t want someone who claims they are a surgeon just because they’ve hung around a casualty ward. So why do digital marketers like Facebook’s Marketing Experts use inexperienced typists to do the valuable (and money-making) task of copywriting, just because the typists hang around digital marketing offices?
So I am pleading with digital marketers. Please use copywriters and save us from wasting our time digesting your word vomit – or leave the industry now. Both outcomes will make the industry healthier. Go on, do it for the good of the industry.
You might find this worth reading too:
The You Rule
The most powerful word in business writing is ‘You’. Far too much business writing is about the writer, the writer’s organisation and the product, service or point of view the writer is trying to sell. Far too little is about the reader, out of whose pocket flows the money that keeps us all employed. Or not, as the case may be.
Make your business writing about the reader. This is especially true if the reader is already a customer. When this is the case, the first two words out of your computer – in almost any form of business writing – should be “Thank you”.
This does two things, both beneficial to your cause:
1. It grants the power in the relationship to the reader. The reader is the patron; you are the supplicant or servant.
2. It reminds the reader that he has a relationship with you or your organisation. It identifies you as someone with whom he has done business in the past, and therefore with whom he may want to do business again.
Here’s a summary of the You Rule:
Write about the reader, not the firm or its products.
When you use the word ‘YOU’, always make it singular.
If you’re writing to customers, open with ‘Thank You’.
And always use you, your, yours, you’ll, you’re way more often than I, we, we’ve, we’ll, us, our, ours, my or mine, throughout your message.
As you know dear reader, more often than not, the latest shiny widget hailed as the new-new-thing in the digital marketing world, dies a rapid death and is soon forgotten as the next new-new-thing takes its place. Google glasses being an example.
And so it was with QR codes. Relegated to the digital dustbin, they had a short life mainly due to the hassle of downloading an app for scanning the code. Not all apps scanned all codes. Some were proprietary to certain code types – for example those used by magazine publishers to link you to more of the story on a website.
Sometimes they just didn’t scan easily, and not all phones worked with the apps as the phones weren’t so smart back in the day – mid-90’s to early 2000’s. So inevitably, frustration and impatience eventually killed off the humble QR code.
Then along came a global pandemic. Who’d have thought hey?
Thanks to smart phones and contact tracing, QR codes are now ubiquitous in our lives. Every retail store, cinema, theatre, restaurant et al, requires the humble punter to scan the QR code upon entry. Right now we cannot live in society without QR codes, so it’s only natural marketers tap into this new habit.
Publishers, religious organisations, real estate agents, packaged goods manufacturers and more have jumped at the opportunity to use QR codes as a response device – or should that be ‘engagement device’ for those limited to marketing to digital channels.
Ironically, in a digital world, QR codes are helping to lead an already resurging interest in direct mail – the codes appear on the envelope, letters and brochures as the response device that takes you to customised landing pages. A seamless measurable link between the real and the virtual worlds.
The smartest B2Bmarketers know, direct mail is by far the best performing media channel to generate hot leads – always beats LinkedIn, email and online advertising hands-down. Until QR codes, the mailings linked to PURLs (Personalised URLS) – but you had to enter the PURL into your keyboard. But who wants to type when it’s much easier and faster to scan and link to the PURL on your phone?
Here is an example from the Jehovah’s Witnesses for an Easter mailing that arrived in my letterbox this week:
Here is a real estate sign in my neighbourhood – though why you would restrict your marketing to just social media is beyond me:
My local Mayor uses a QR in his letters to the constituents:
This is a mailing I did two years ago to promote an event on how to use direct mail. The QR code linked to a landing page to buy tickets.
Everywhere you look there is a QR code being used to encourage consumers to scan and link to a landing page, website, app or shopping cart. Or even to start a bit of virtual reality – though the VR experience is still a tad frustrating.
Just as the barcode changed retail as we know it, the QR code is here to stay and I suspect all brand advertising will start to include QR codes to encourage response.
However, there is also a seedier side to QR codes that I will reveal in the next article. I’ll share how some brands are using the codes to steal customers from their existing retailers. Retail is going to get nasty.
Well folks, job applications take many forms, but this week the MD of Google in Australia obviously played her cards to pursue a career as a comedian.
How else can you explain this hilarious Open letter to Australians? It was written in response to the Australian Government deciding that Google must pay for news written by other publishers and journalists, rather than steal the news from them. Go figure – don’t be evil!
You must be aware of how this works dear reader. If you take something from someone or an organisation without their permission, then make money from what you’ve taken, you must pay that person or organisation for what you stole. It’s common sense, common courtesy and common law.
Sadly, Google appears to be just a common thief
The headline of this article was going to be: Common thief launches comedy channel, also known as Google…” but I changed my mind.
Even the most inexperienced marketing clerk knows that Google steals IP and content from legitimate publishers/journalists without paying for it, and offers it up within search results to make money from the associated advertising. It also manipulates search results for its economic benefit, so you cannot necessarily rely on organic results.
Bob Hoffman – The Ad Contrarian – has been calling out these and other unsavoury organisations/practices for years. Think Facecrook for example.
Yesterday, in what has been described as one of the funniest articles of all time, Google’s MD tried to threaten Australians with outlandish claims about loss of free search services. Google has been roundly condemned by marketers, consumers, media organisations, school children and most importantly, the ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission). The story is on all TV news bulletins and online news channels.
In addition to the letter, Google is displaying this image on its homepage on Chrome – it’s not appearing on other search engines.
The reason the Google letter makes you laugh out loud is the naivety of the author to assume anybody would believe the outrageous claims it makes. Who is advising this alleged leader?
The whole situation raises a number of issues.
The first is the quality of the staff that work at Google. Why do they work in such an unethical business? Where is their moral compass? Why aren’t they calling out the organisation and suggesting it change its way? It’s not like Google is struggling – it made $4Billion in the Australian market alone in 2019.
The second is the misguided delusion many executives live under because they work for a major brand. This is particularly true in marketing roles. They believe that because they work for an established global brand, they somehow have more talent, or are better than others.
Most marketing clerks are just process functionaries – pushing paper and pixels for profit. They’re not innovative, creative or inspiring. They don’t invent new products or services or distribution channels. They just spend the advertising budget – and that’s an important function.
You consistently see the evidence at seminars, where executives with flash job titles are invited to speak. The audience anticipates something brilliant because of the job title and brand. Then reality hits – they have no secret sauce, they don’t know much more than the audience and most are rather average presenters.
But the real kicker is how even the highest paid executives know the power a letter has over all other media. Whenever there is a crisis or a desperate bid for credibility, you’ll find executives, politicians, church leaders et al, writing “an open letter” and publishing it in newspapers or online – just as the MD of Google did.
If you ever wanted evidence of the credibility and power of direct mail, look no further. But that’s another article…
This week a marketing clerk at Coles made the ridiculous decision to stop using one of its most powerful media channels for retailers – printed catalogues. For international readers, unaddressed catalogues distributed via letterboxes, are one of the strongest generators of retail store and online traffic in Australia.
The reasons given by the clerk were ridiculous to say the least and naively woke – and Coles has rightly copped a backlash from both consumers and industry.
The physical is always more powerful than the virtual as I explained here years ago. After all, would you prefer a real or a virtual kiss?
The science of the emotional power of paper over digital channels has been proven. It has to do with how direct mail for example, makes the content more real to the brain and better connected to memory by engaging with its spatial memory networks. The material generated more activity in the area of the brain associated with the integration of visual and spatial information (the left and right parietals) and the processing of information in relation to the body.
You can download Millward Brown’s research on this topic here.
Though, I’ve learned through testing, that the best results come from a combination of both print and digital channels. You need to continually test to work out the best combinations.
I suspect Coles has never run a split-run test to see what media channels work best. They’ve never isolated stores and distributed a catalogue in one catchment area and not distributed a catalogue around another store, to prove the best media usage. They certainly didn’t claim so in the announcement about their decision.
Once again the marketing clerks are letting opinions not facts govern their decisions – a sad reflection on the industry.
Which brings me to Domino’s…
Don Meij is the CEO and Managing Director of Domino’s Pizza Enterprises. He is also one of the most successful business executives in Australia and one of the highest paid. I had the privilege of interviewing him for my book a couple of years ago.
He revealed that Domino’s rushed to ‘save money’ by reducing the volume of its unaddressed letterbox marketing collateral. Domino’s distributes leaflets, booklets and other printed collateral to sell pizzas. Domino’s had launched its app and wanted to migrate customers to using the app for orders.
The result of this decision was an immediate drop in sales. So Domino’s reverted to using letterbox leaflets again. Over time, the Domino’s app has changed the way many customers place their order. Instead of using the phone to talk, they use the phone to tap. And once a customer downloads the app they use it more often to place home-delivered orders. But many still use the letterbox offers before ordering.
Domino’s realised the best marketing results come from testing and using a combination of media channels. Let the market prove the media you should use – not the marketing clerks.
Interestingly, my local pizza owner – he’s from Calabria – had to close his dine-in service during lock-down. He doesn’t have a website. So he printed a letterbox leaflet and distributed it in his catchment area. He offered a discount for pick-up. I’ve used the offer almost weekly and love chatting with the husband and wife team as I await my order. We are after all, social creatures. He said the leaflet saved his business.
And only last month Coles biggest competitor Woolworths did a mass-distribution of its loyalty cards in a clear plastic envelope in suburban letterboxes, to attract new customers.
Woolies use letterbox distribution to sell loyalty cards
In the statement about the catalogue decision, the Coles marketer said, “we are living at a time of unprecedented societal change…” and it’s true. Consider what’s happened during the pandemic:
Record sales of books as people have more time to read
Record sales of jigsaw puzzles as families return to ‘traditional’ tactile activities
Record sales of vegetable seedlings and chickens as families grow their own food
Return to direct mail communications as the personal and physical media are more trusted during these troubled times
Record sales of home-delivered products – because there is no other way to buy them as stores are closed
Of course, the volume of mail and unaddressed catalogues is less than a few years ago, just as radio and TV audiences have declined and digital marketing channels struggle to be successful. As consumers, we have way too many channels to use, making it harder for marketers to instinctively know what works and what doesn’t. Hence we need to go back to basics and follow the rules.
There are two simple rules to success in marketing:
Rule 1 – Always Test
Rule 2 – See Rule 1
The pandemic has revealed some massive weaknesses in marketing – with poor quality decisions being made by unqualified marketing clerks.
Let’s hope the ‘new normal‘ brings back a semblance of commonsense and let the facts, not woke virtue signaling, drive marketing decisions…
As you well-know dear reader the marketing industry loves its flashy job titles. Though when I first started working in marketing, the most senior roles were Marketing Director, National Marketing Manager, VP Marketing, or a mashup depending upon geography. For example, APAC Regional Marketing Director.
But we’re a funny lot we marketers. We weren’t happy because we believed we weren’t taken seriously at Board level. We took umbrage that very few Board Directors were marketers. Boards generally included finance and general management, HR, but rarely were there any marketing honchos.
So, to alleviate this perceived problem of status, we created a new marketing job title. One that reflected how we saw ourselves – one that elevated us to the C-Suite (wherever that is located). We became Chief Marketing Officers.
With a C-Word title, we had to get a seat on the Board – after all, we were now “Chiefs” just like the CEO, CFO, CIO etc. I declare a hand here. I’ve been a National Marketing Manager, Marketing Director and a Chief Marketing Officer among other titles – all ordained, not designed.
But even with the C-Word title, marketers are still thin on the ground in Boardrooms. So I was surprised recently when I was reviewing the popular media, because right there in headlines around the world were CMO’s.
CMO’s are all over the media…
Everywhere I looked; “The UK CMO says…” or “Deputy CMO states…” How important are CMOs now – they even have a deputy? The acronym CMO appears constantly on the ticker tape across the bottom of news screens – CMO has almost entered the vernacular.
There are now Deputy CMO’s…
But there’s a small problem. In marketing parlance, the CMO being referred to is the wrong C-Word. In the current COVID-Crisis, CMO stands for Chief Medical Officer, not Chief Marketing Officer.
They can even point to charts like Chief Marketing Officers can…
“Holy Handles Batman what will they call themselves now?” I hear you ask. Years of lobbying to be taken seriously and the most senior marketing job title has been usurped by the medical fraternity.
Damn and blast – we’ll have to design a new descriptor for our fabulousness. Something that describes our importance to society and businesses at large. But what will we use?
It needs to reflect the humble nature of our industry, titles like:
BCMO – Big Chief Marketing Officer?
CML – Chief Marketing Legend?
SCMO – Super-Chief Marketing Officer?
DDMAO – Data Driven Marketing & Advertising Officer?
TMB – That Marketing Bloke (maybe that’s not politically correct).
But what is clear, is we can no longer be called CMO’s. It’s too confusing, as people naturally assume CMO describes a medical title.
This is not unusual for acronyms to create confusion among the executive ranks. I was asked to pitch for a major tourism account and to provide examples of my direct marketing expertise in the category. I presented a direct response TVC for a 5-star resort, direct response press ads and inserts for hotels and destinations, then was promptly asked by the CMO to stop my presentation.
The CMO said he wanted me to present Direct Mail (which I had yet to get to). I explained that mail was but one media in which you conduct direct marketing. His staff asked me to step outside, while they ‘discussed’ the definition of direct marketing with the hapless CMO. I returned to complete my presentation and was eventually awarded the business.
My mate Drayton Bird once got caught up in the acronym problem. He flew from London to NY to talk to Board members about CRM (not sure if a CMO was there). He was stopped 20 minutes into his presentation and asked what the hell he was talking about. He said Customer Relationship Management. They said they wanted a presentation about Cause Related Marketing. Go figure?
This is a weighty topic folks, and given that our very own C-Word now risks getting lost in translation – your suggestions are welcome please…
As most of you readers already know, in tough times the marketing rule of thumb is to keep investing in your marketing. Though it’s easier said than done if your business is closed and your customers don’t have jobs.
But that being said – there has never been a better time for real contact, as against digital contact. As I’ve shared previously, there is a heap of COVID-CRAP in our inboxes, most of it is a complete waste of effort and completely ignored.
So I ask you folks, “How many of you have rung your customers recently to have a real conversation?” Just put in a call to check in and see how your customers are and if you can help them – with anything?
If not, may I suggest you consider a phone or video call – sooner rather than later. The reason is simple: if you’re not, your competitors are probably doing so. If you are claiming as you read “I cannot afford to call my customers” – you may want to revise your business model. If you can’t afford to call or mail a letter to your customers, you will lose quite a substantial amount of business – in good and bad times.
Why didn’t you call?
Most SaaS companies lose huge volumes of clients because they never call them – they rely on marketing technology (martech for the buzzword lovers) to deliver their personal communications, immediately de-personalising the experience for their customers.
LinkedIn is guilty as charged. I tried the “Premium” service and after a year of not enjoying any premium service, I didn’t renew. All I got from LinkedIn was email to remind me to pay my renewal. Now, because LinkedIn is not very good at its “small data” I keep getting offers to trial the Premium service.
How hard is it for LinkedIn to pick up the phone and ask why I left them, or to block advertising a service I cancelled, so as not to irritate me? But hey – maybe they don’t understand lifetime value?
Here’s a simple example of the value of talking to your customers:
My elderly father is a member at his local licensed sports club – he no longer competes, but visits for dinner or lunch regularly. He isn’t known, he’s just one of thousands of members. Last week his phone rang – it’s a landline. The club’s welfare officer was checking in to see how my father was doing and if he needed anything. They were checking on all members aged over 70 – a simple use of small data that made a big impact.
Nobody from the club has ever rung my father in his life. But he thought it was wonderful that the club would consider calling him – he’s told everyone and can’t wait for it to reopen so he can enjoy a meal with a glass or three of wine.
Can’t wait to get back to the club to splurge on a Schnitty…
Imagine what your customers might say if you called them? Here’s another example – I’ve written about this previously. A major office supplies company in Australia was keen to migrate its customers to online ordering to reduce the call centre workload – and cut some costs. They company mails annual catalogues to customers and research shows the catalogue stays on file until the next edition is mailed. Customers usually order with the catalogue on their desk.
It didn’t take them long to discover a problem with sales. The customers who moved to online ordering were ordering less per order than those who rang the call centre. They weren’t shopping more frequently either. So sales dropped as business moved online.
They company launched a new strategy – before they shipped the online orders, they called the customers (by phone) and advised the order was about to be dispatched, asking if the customer wanted to add anything to the order. Inevitably, using historical order data, the customer service representative up-sold the customer and increased the order value. The company has increased its call centre to accommodate both types of online ordering – telephone and data lines.
And by how much can I increase your order today?
So, if you’re considering migrating your business to online-only because of the pandemic, consider accompanying the service with real people on the telephone if you really want to succeed.
Receptionist is marketing genius Another former client of mine takes orders by email and website. Each time an order arrives the company receptionist calls the customer to confirm the order. She started doing this because she thought it was good manners – you know, the right thing to do.
I suggested that during the call she agree a delivery date that was later than the earliest her company could deliver. The company now delivers each order before the agreed delivery date. The clients love the service as it exceeds their expectations and there is rarely any dispute over paying on time.
Thank you for your order it will be delivered on…
How $2 helped make $millions Speaking of paying on time, a very successful cousin of mine sold his business for a premium, partly due to his excellent cash flow and a simple phone call. Geoff (his real name) would ring the accounts payable department of each of his debtors and confirm who was responsible for the processing of his invoices – most were small to medium size companies.
Each month he would mail his invoice in a personally addressed envelope to the accounts payable clerk – complete with a $2 scratch lottery ticket attached. His debtors loved getting his mail – and they paid his invoices ahead, or on time, every month. His cash position added enormous value to his business when he sold it.
Thank you for paying my invoice on time…
So, regardless of whether you are able to sell anything or not to your customers, due to lock-down or delivery issues, make and keep real contact with them. They’ll appreciate your effort and the investment will pay off – either immediately or in the “new-normal”.
It also allows you to gain some knowledge about each customer. Because the old adage still applies:
One thing you know about your customer is worth more than anything you know about your product or service.
That ‘one thing’, gives you a reason for a conversation – and that conversation can turn into business for you.
The other reason you should keep talking with your customers is also very simple:
If your customers don’t make you rich…who will?
Gotta go – the phone’s ringing, I wonder who it is…