Marketers (and marketing in general) get a bad rap for being annoying, self-centered, and bullish. Unfortunately, the loathsome behavior of a few has created a bad reputation for the many. Let’s rid the business of said practices.
To that end, here are 12 annoying tactics often employed in PR and marketing campaigns. Let’s hope you’ll never again make these mistakes.
1. Talking incessantly
We’re drawn in when something piques our curiosity and when we feel listened to—so shut up and focus on starting a dialogue. That means two people conversing back and forth, not one person talking on autopilot while the other one daydreams of sticking a fork in his or her eye.
2. Making cold calls/sending spam emails
Everyone hates telemarketers and spam, yet somehow they keep coming. Trash those purchased lists of “leads,” and focus instead on meeting people and building a relationship.
3. Leading with a hard-sell pitch
No one wants to feel as though they have a bull’s-eye marked with a giant dollar sign on their head. Get to know someone before you try to sell to them.
4. Attacking your competitors
You may think that highlighting your competitor’s downfalls will make you look like the better choice, but in reality it makes you look petty and threatened. The Facebook PR fiasco
(in which the company hired Burson-Marsteller to conduct a smear campaign against Google) is a prime example of how this can come back to bite you in the—well, you get it.
5. Using tragedy as a gimmick
You may recall the fashion designer who tried to use the Middle East uprisings as a way to drive attention to his Twitter feed
, or the baked goods company that jumped on board the Casey Anthony #notguilty hashtag
in an effort to sell more pastries.
Both backfired horribly. Using tragedy as a sales tool is in bad taste. Don’t do it.
6. Picking fights
Polarization is good. It means you are standing up for something and adding another element to a debate. However, flat-out insulting people and picking fights is a surefire way to turn people off to your message.
7. Automating engagement
It’s OK to automate or schedule some
posts on social media. But when it comes to interacting, auto direct messages (DMs) on Twitter and canned responses are not only disingenuous, they’re the kiss of death. Instead, interact on a personal level, and find shortcuts elsewhere.
8. Talking over people’s heads
No matter how smart you are or how many degrees you have, when it comes to talking to your general audience, simple language is best. Campaigns and copy that sound more like a thesis then a friendly conversation are almost always ignored.
9. Making promises you can’t keep
It’s an easy temptation—promise customers anything to get them to buy. Too often those promises are hard to keep. It’s best to stick with the “under-promise, over-deliver approach” and leave the snake-oil sales tactics to the crooks and scammers.
10. Overstuffing the channel
Similar to talking incessantly, this tactic occurs when companies overproduce marketing materials and then send them out in rapid succession. Daily emails, weekly direct mails, and constant updates become overwhelming and can prompt people to shut off your message regardless of its value.
Don’t stalk people with your marketing arsenal. Give them time to get to know you, and let them ask for information when they’re ready.
11. Outsourcing to companies that don’t speak the same language
Do you really want a cold call from someone you can’t understand? Make sure that whomever you employ to handle your marketing can be understood and can carry on a real conversation. This is more than just a matter of linguistics; you need people who can knowledgeably answer questions about your products or services.
12. Failing to offer a clear call to action
It’s exceedingly annoying when you get excited about a product or service but have no idea what you need to do next to learn more or get started. It’s not only annoying, it’s also one of the main reasons why the company isn’t selling. Be sure to include a clear next step in every marketing piece you do.
If people were to truly follow the Golden Rule in their marketing, the annoying practices I just listed would not exist. No one likes to be on the receiving end of the above tactics, yet so many employ them in their businesses.
Ditch these 12 habits as quickly as possible, and focus instead on thinking from the perspective of your customer. When you’re the customer, what do you like? What don’t you like?
Common sense will get you far, and common courtesy will take you even further toward getting your message heard.
Shennandoah Diaz is the CEO of Brass Knuckles Media, an uncensored PR and marketing firm catering to innovative, socially conscious experts and businesses. A version of this story first appeared on the blog 12 Most.