10 annoying marketing tactics that give us a bad reputation

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

marketing tacticsI’m a marketer at heart. In terms of career, it’s all I know and all I am. I claim to love everything about marketing. Well, nearly everything. Here are 10 marketing tactics I despise and even more importantly I believe give us marketers a bad reputation. As Mike Ditka would say “STOP IT”.

  1. The price of popcorn at the movie theatre. At the grocery store, a single bag of Orville’s popcorn goes for 29 cents a bag. Yet at the movie theatre, it costs $5.99. I get that the movie is using popcorn to cover the overhead.  But it really is blatantly treating your consumer like a hostage. “Combos” (popcorn plus pop or candy) are even worse. At my theatre, one night while I was 9th in line, I added them up and there are zero savings. So I asked the kid at the front. And the answer the poor kid had to give was “the combos are more convenience than savings”. Wow. These marketing tactics just gives us a bad reputation.
  2. Freight and PDI on a New Car. If you’ve ever bought a car, you have to pay for something called freight and PDI. It’s really an admin fee for shipping and preparing the car. What’s frustrating is the negotiation process in buying a car. This is just one more tool at the disposal of the salespeople. I know Saturn tried the “no price negotiation” strategy and it backfired. Negotiations with so many moving parts can be a brutal experience. And many times, you start off day 1 with such a negative experience that you’re mad at the brand. Why would you want that?
  3. That’s not all if you call now…’ Yes, telemarketing is a necessary evil of the marketing game. I’m not a fan. The worst line ever invented is “that’s not all”. That just means we’ve taken this low-cost item we’re trying to sell you and give you a second one for free.  But the rip-off is the “you just pay the shipping and handling” line. You’re likely paying an extra $8=10 in shipping and handling, where the company makes a huge profit on that amount. It’s never double the price to ship two items in the same parcel. And handling? I wish these guys would stop preying on the defense-less consumer. These marketing tactics make us look bad.
  4. 100% Money-Back Warranty…’except for’: A few years ago, I decided to buy a Toshiba Ultrabook, as it was slightly cheaper than the Mac version. While the Toshiba was a bit flimsy, I decided to buy the 3-year extra service plan from Best Buy. I was told, “don’t worry, this warranty covers everything, and while it’s being repaired, we’ll even give you a loaner version”. I figured OK, I”m covered. Six months in, the flimsy screen caught up to me and all of a sudden I couldn’t see anything. Confidently, I took it back to Best Buy. They gave me a loaner and a week later said “we can fix it, but the cost to you will be $400” I said, “but I have the full warranty”. And they said “yes, but the warranty does not cover software, hardware or battery”. HUH? What else is there? There is nothing else but software, hardware or battery to a computer. Anyway, I bought a new Mac. No wonder Apple does so well in an industry like this.
  5. Paying $3 for headphones on the Airplane. I know pretty much every airline is nearly bankrupt. And I’d never invest a penny into an airline. But the shift to charging the consumer for everything seems like the wrong way to go. There have to be more creative ways than charging $3 for headphones. I was recently on a flight that cost me $1700, which makes that headphone fee about 0.18% of the overall price. Is it really making a dent in the balance sheet of your airline?  Or is giving the consumer a small token a bad thing?
  6. Email Lists you didn’t know you signed up for. I manage my email as best I can. For about 2 months now, I’m getting weekly Hilton Honors email blasts. I finally un-subscribed. Some of the un-subscribes are easy.  But others are painful with 3 or 4 steps to confirm I really want to un-subscribe and I’m not “mistaken”. Email marketing is just a new form of junk mail. I guess it works for 3% of customers so to get the money from those guys, let’s bug the 97% of customers who don’t want emails cluttering up their inbox. Let’s make it so hard to tick off that “no email thank you” box that we can annoy our most loyal consumers.
  7. Paying more for a large hot tea versus a small: There are 3 component costs in hot tea. The cup, the bag, and the water. The only thing that changes with a larger size is more water. Any chance to rip-off the consumer.
  8. 3-year Cell Phone Contracts: When the technology changes every six months and you’re teenager drops (or throws) their phone at least once a week, having that long contract feels like a prison sentence. I get the whole it’s the only way we can cover the cost. But it puts all these phone companies into a position where they get the sale but lose the customer’s loyalty. It’s not a way to build a long-term love affair but rather a growing hatred for one another.
  9. Gas Price Games.  I want one simple rule for gas prices. You have to set them on the first day of the month and leave that price the entire month. Have you ever noticed that the price of gas goes up immediately at the start of a crisis–in anticipation of prices going up.  So a hurricane hits, prices jump up that day just in case the oil industry is affected. Not because it’s been affected. Just in case. Yet the prices don’t come down in anticipation of the world crisis ending,
  10. Call center cold calls at home. Even worse than junk email cluttering up my inbox are the phone calls coming from overseas. I’ve signed up for the “Do Not Call”, but I guess the loophole is to now call from overseas. You’re in the middle of cooking dinner and the phone rings. And there is some 7-second delay before someone says “Hi Mr. Robertson”.

These 10 marketing tactics are very common to most consumers causing great frustration but also lack of respect for the marketing profession. And yes, it is a profession. What are the things about marketing that annoy you and damage our reputation?

How do we “Stop It” on these marketing tactics?

 

Read more on how to create a beloved brand:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

If you approve a 6 out of 10, then maybe you are the one to blame.

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

I remember when one of my brand managers came into see me to try to get my approval on a small tactical print ad. I didn’t know much about the ad, because it was a small ad, on a small budget. But here I was, ready to approve. I looked down and saw something so boring. It was likely on strategy, but it would never capture anyone’s attention, it would never drive anyone’s desire, and most importantly no one would love the brand. It was just awful. But I’ve always prided myself at being a believer in the bottom up approach to management. I couldn’t crap all over it. So we both sat in silence as I stared down at the ad in front of me. I didn’t know what to say, I wasn’t sure I could really even give feedback on how to making it better.  So I asked one of the best questions I’ve ever asked in my life.

I said “do you love it?”

The brand manager shrugged his shoulder said “no, not really. It’s ok”

And that was one of the worst answers I had ever heard.

I slid it back across the table and said “bring me back something you love”.

If you don’t love the work you do, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand?

If you don’t love it, you won’t fight for its life.  Having executed many great marketing programs over the years, I can safely say I can remember the fight like it was yesterday. Somewhere along the way, there would be a fight.  That might be with your boss, your boss’ boss all the way up through the organization.  It might be with the agency, whether it’s the creative director of VP of Accounts.  Or it could be with director on set.

Will you work hard enough to make it perfect? Greatness takes passion, precision and dedication.  While most of my marketing life was 8-6 pm, I knew that about 10 times a year I’d work till 1am. But I went to bed proud. If you don’t love it will make sure everything is just perfect.

Approving OK is the slippery slope to OK.  You start to think “good enough”, you start to lose pride, Yes, there always constraints:  deadlines, budgets alignment. But if there becomes a culture where OK is accepted than that becomes the goal. I talked to one potential client who was #5 in the category. They were buying into everything I was saying. Looked like i would be helping them out. Then they phoned and said “we know we are #5, but we’ve decided #5 is good enough, because even we improve our brand we’ll just be a stronger #5”   Wow.  

Explaining what a Marketer does to non-Marketers is odd because we don’t really do anything.  We don’t make the product, we don’t make the ads or public relations and we don’t even sell it. Yet the Brand Leader is held responsible for sales, share and profits. And they should be. While we don’t do anything, we do have a say in everything that goes on about the brand and we sit in the seat that can inspire everyone around you, or it can be the one that inhibits creativity and suck the life out of everyone around you.  As you sit in the Brand Leader role, the worst thing you can ever do is say “Yes” to OK ideas.

If you’ve ever said “Yes” to an OK idea, you know that you lost a bit of who you wanted to be.  And you know the work can only get worse.

Execution is half the battle and OK is the enemy

As a Brand Consultant, I can tell you that strategy is only half the battle. Execution is the other half.  That execution could show up in print ad like above, or even a new product, or a waiter serving table 16. Never settle for OK. 

Rejecting OK work is not easy, especially if you have a reputation for playing it safe and approving OK.   It is always tempting to look at all the work that’s been presented to you and figure out which one is the best.  So you pick the 6 out of 10, and make some recommendations that might it up to a 6.5.

Because you don’t really do any of the work, not only do you need to REJECT OK, but you have to inspire the greatness to come from others.

Execution does matter. While we want great execution against great strategy, I’d say that great execution against an OK strategy is better off than OK execution against a great strategy.  In today’s crowded marketing world, where consumers see 6,000 ads a day, standing out is more important than it ever has been.

If you are up for the change, you should start at the beginning of the process. Sit with your lead account person and lay out your deepest thoughts on how you want your passion for the work to come shining through.  Find the language that translates your passion accurately at the outset and then be consistent to that passion throughout. Here’s what I have said in the past: “I know we need an Ad that delivers the strategy, sells more product and drives share. But I also need an Ad that I love, that I’m proud of and something I can hold up and say I DID THIS”. I always felt “I have to love it” is the highest bar you can set.  It also gives you the out by saying “I just don’t love it”.  Tell your account person, you are building in extra time in the process just so we can see if we can really push to get to great.

But saying is one thing, doing is another. Be consistent at every stage because people follow how you say it as much as what you say. Write an inspiring brief that is open on creativity, and isn’t filled with support points or mandatory requirements. Ask to meet the creative people before the first creative meeting so you can talk about your expectations that you want to create work we all love. At the creative meeting, you need to stay open, positive and push for different because that is usually where greatness lays.  Follow your instincts first. Absorb the work in the same way your consumer might. Reach for words that describe your instincts and how you feel about the work. Stay open and inspiring. Do not get into all the details or the changes you want–save those for a post meeting email. Talk only about the work you love–don’t even talk about the ones you don’t like. You want your positive energy to come through.

It’s one thing to inspire but it’s another thing to actually go for it.    I find it strange that Brand Leaders always push for a strategic point of difference no matter how small–but when it comes to execution many of us fear sticking our neck out and looking different.  When it comes down to making the choice, you need to show everyone how serious you are by taking a chance on greatness and not just picking the safe options.  You have to be wiling to fight for it, because you can imagine that there will be push back.  This is your opportunity to shine, your opportunity to inspire everyone on your team and your opportunity to push for true greatness for your brand.   And you’ll bring back those feelings of excitement that you had the day you decided to get into marketing.

You can only Reject OK, if you are willing to inspire greatness.

 

To read more about Beloved Brands and how to turn love into more power and profits:

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

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