Have you ever seen a piece of marketing that’s so bad that it makes you cringe? Maybe even makes you feel embarrassed for the business putting that out there? We certainly have!
We also wonder, as I’m sure you do, at how that could have made it through the review process and seen the light of day. The simple answer is the same as for most challenges in SMB: lack of time. Owners don’t have the resources to send things around for editing or gather a group consensus – they need things done in real-time.
If you’re among that group of busy business owners, we’ve got something to help out: a quick guide on cringe-worthy marketing that’s your rule of thumb on what not to say and how not to say it!
The cringe-worthy guide to what not to say and how not to say it:
1. Leading with the phrase “We’re a ___ company who’s been in the business for 20 years”
If any of your marketing materials begin with this phrase, cut it out! The number one rule for marketing is to remember that your customers are all asking themselves “what’s in it for me?” (WIIFM). Starting off this way is like launching into your life story with a stranger on the bus before they have any idea why they should care.
Instead of talking about yourself, start off talking about them and what they want. Explain the benefits of your product. Will they feel relief, joy, satisfaction, or peace of mind? Say that! Otherwise, you’ve lost their attention before you’ve even begun.
2. Typos, punctuation, and grammar
Is it there or their? Your or you’re? Its or it’s? These questions kept us up at night in grade school and they’re back to haunt us in business! When you get it wrong, it can sometimes be pretty funny, but only to your customers. Nobody wants bad press like this!
Rules of thumb:
There is for places, their belongs to someone.
Your is for ownership, you’re is short for “you are”
Its is for ownership, it’s is short for “it is”
Creative Kids Software, Reebok, and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign know the pain of this firsthand (Tis’ the season!)
3. Pictures that are grainy or out of focus
This one hits close to home for us. We see plenty of direct mail images come rolling through the presses that look like someone trying to capture a shot of Bigfoot and we consider it our duty to help out. Just because an image has the correct subject matter doesn’t mean that it sells well, and when you’re competing with folks out there using wonderfully designed stock photography, it’ll be hard to get noticed. If you’re sending postcards, you can access a library of stock photos through our web-to-print platform or touch-up your own with the free web tool Pixlr.
Humor is touchy because it’s usually at someone’s expense. In fact, it’s almost impossible to avoid offending at least one person and it’s usually best not to even try. Unless you’re Jerry Seinfeld who can get laughs without all of the expletives or toilet humor, you’re likely to end up like Bloomingdales who seemed to condone some pretty offensive party behavior. What might have been humorous to a few ad executives sure wasn’t funny in print, huh?
5. Broken Hyperlinks
What’s the point of all that work if the links you point people to are broken? Even companies as large as Heinz (of ketchup fame) sometimes overlook double-checking them before sending things out, as they learned last year when they placed a QR code on one of their ketchup bottle designs that forwarded visitors not to one of their landing pages but … an adult website. Oops. Check your links so that you’re not wasting your marketing dollars!
It’s all fun and games until you’re the one they’re laughing at
There we go, that’s our list and we’re sticking to it. Can you think of any more cringe-worthy marketing? Share this on social media and tell your story!
Remember, it’s a short month, so get your postcard campaign out early!
If you’re ready to up-level your marketing campaigns and you’d like an expert to look them over, Opportunity Knocks can help. They’re experts in driving new business and most importantly, know how to use spellcheck.