5 Dumb Marketing Strategies That Will Guarantee You'll Lose Money
High-character marketing is profitable marketing. But if your business is doing too well, consider using the following five marketing strategies that will anger current customers, alienate potential ones and dent your shining reputation.
1. As Soon As Someone You Don't Know Connects With You On Social Media, Send Them A Pitch
The nerve! The unmitigated gall! This has happened so often that I’m now reluctant to follow someone back on Twitter. When I get pitched on LinkedIn or Facebook from someone I don’t know who has just joined my network, and it’s clear that the marketer doesn’t know anything about what I do, I immediately remove the connection.
“Connect first, pitch last,” suggests Phil Gerbyshak, Chief Digital Officer, Vengreso.com. “Instead of pitching me, find me on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, and comment genuinely on something I've shared or commented on not super recently via email. Offer a real insight or even disagree respectfully with me."
2. When Someone Buys A Product Of Yours Online, Add Them To Your Mailing List
I won’t name names, but a couple of well-known clothing companies are notorious for doing this. It’s a waste of paper and time. I have to recycle the catalog, shred the address label, and add the company to a “Stop Junk Mail” list or call them to be taken off their list. Then the next time I buy from them, the cycle starts all over again.
Too often, there is no opt-out button on the online order form. The company assumes you want a catalog, which is a false assumption for many customers.
To the companies that do this: why annoy the very people who want to give you money? Why not have an opt-in button on the order form?
3. When Someone Gives You A Business Card, Add Them To Your E-Newsletter List
This practice raises legal issues in many countries, but even if it’s legally permissible, this is lazy and self-defeating marketing. It may expand your mailing list in the short run but it also risks losing lots of people in the long run.
Which is better: a long email list that’s filled with people who didn’t ask and don’t want to be sent marketing material or a short list that includes only folks who value what you have to say and are eagerly waiting to hear it? Which group of people is more likely to buy your products or services? Which group is more likely to tell their friends and colleagues what a great person you are?
"Someone giving you a business card does not equal consent to adding them to your marketing list," says Jill Schiefelbein, author of Dynamic Communication. "Instead, write a follow-up email based your initial interaction, including a personalized request stating a relevant benefit that being on your list provides, and provide a one-click link for easy sign-up."
4. After You Buy A Trade Association's Membership List, Pelt Everyone On It With Pitches
God bless non-profit organizations. They’re really doing the Lord’s work by selflessly devoting their resources toward promoting some social good.
Why then do some make their membership lists available to anyone who can pony up the dough? I’ve answered my own question, but it makes no sense to do this.
There’s one association I belong to that I have to ask every year not to sell my name and contact information to third parties. I also ask them to make this easy to do for my fellow members by having an opt-out button (or, better yet, an opt-in one). But every year I get pitched things I don’t want or need from marketers who have purchased the association’s list.
That is not high-character marketing.
"For B2B selling there is no better place than LinkedIn because it's a platform of business people for business people," Ed Rigsbee, author of The ROI of Membership, told me. "Pick your tight-niche target and connect with as many people as possible. Don't sell to them. Instead, influence them through valuable insights posted in your feed, which they will see. Become a thought leader rather than a peddler, and in time you will receive the rewards."
5. Make It Difficult For Someone To Unsubscribe To Your Email List
This is maddening. Unsubscribing to an email list, especially one you didn’t ask to join, should require a single click. Apparently not every online marketer got the memo because there are still too many people who make you jump through hoops to get off their list. Aren’t these disrespectful folks aware that they’re simply turning current or potential customers off?
When I get an automated response that says, “You may have to wait ten days to be removed from our list,” I feel like doing a Billy Jack in the “I just go berserk” scene.
These five low-character marketing strategies are the tip of the iceberg. What's one I left out that makes you want to scream? List it in the comments section and I may use it in a follow-up column. You may also send your comments to me via my website, TheEthicsGuy.com.
Thank you kindly for reading this post. I hope you're having a good day (or at least not a bad one).
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As The Ethics Guy®, my virtual and in-person keynote speeches, training programs, webinars, and online courses help companies promote ethical leadership. The result is an engaged and satisfied workforce, better clients, and a strategy for long-term financial success. I received a B.A. in philosophy from Swarthmore College, a Ph.D. in philosophy and bioethics from Georgetown University / the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. My books include "Ethical Intelligence," "The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees," and for tweens and teens, "Is It Still Cheating If I Don't Get Caught?" Check my availability to speak to your organization at TheEthicsGuy.com