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Expert Feature: The Best Marketing Plan I Ever Saw (Not!)

frustrated marketing methods

Do You Make These Same Marketing Mistakes?

The other day, I packed up my gear at the end of the day, went out to the car to go home, and was mildly annoyed to notice something stuck under the windshield wiper.

I put my stuff in the car, and retrieved the offending object – a business card.

All the other cars had the same thing under their wipers. The card was from a Mr. Garcia, apparently a rep from one of the cell phone companies, Sprint I think. Since I just bought a shiny new iPhone 5 in the last year, that was the last thing I needed was another phone or another plan.

This is Mr. Garcia’s marketing plan – put business cards under people’s windshields.

Phone Books And Dead Trees

A couple weeks ago, some kid came around with a stack of yellow pages phone books, dropping them on all the businesses’ door steps. I waggled my finger at him and shook my head “No”.

I got one anyway, and before I left for my trip to Canada several days later, ALL the books were still sitting outside all the offices on my building’s floor.

Not one had been picked up and brought inside by any of the tenants. How many trees get killed every year for this rubbish? (San Francisco even tried to ban yellow pages last year!)

A few years ago, I found a $100 bill lying on the floor outside my office. Sweet. I picked it up, but alas, it was a fake. It was only a partial bill, and on the reverse side, was a photo of a financial planner and his phone number.

This was his marketing plan – drop fake $100 bills on the ground (technically littering), hoping someone will pick it up and say, “Wow that’s so cool! A financial planner that I can get in touch with today!

Best Marketing Plan Ever?

So what’s the problem with any of this?

I consider all of the above “advertising”. Advertising often comes in the form of “interrupt advertising“.

You interrupt what the person is doing in order to stuff your information in their face, whether they are interested or not.

It’s a total numbers game, and TV and radio commercials fit in this category. They stop your program to insert something else, before you can return to your previous task.

The business card and the fake $100 bill are such. They made me stop what I was doing to pay attention to them.

Yellow pages are a passive form of advertising. You put your ad in the book, and hope someone runs across it. Maybe yellow pages ads work with certain industries (bail bondsmen?), but think back to the last time you actually opened one. When was that? Hm?

Why These Marketing Programs Failed

So all three of these marketing programs failed on several levels:

  1. They all irritated me, starting off any relationship we might have had on a negative level. I was totally pissed that the $100 bill was a fake. I sure don’t want to do business with that person.
  2. They are putting their message in front of everyone hoping it connects with some tiny percentage of people who actually saw it. This is advertising in the purest sense, not marketing. They say (whoever “they” are) that we each face up to 4000 ads per day. That’s a lot of noise! Even targeted ads (those being shown to people who are already searching for them) have an average of a 1% engagement (click through). Pretty dismal.
  3. They aren’t telling me why I would need their services, how they can help me, what’s in it for me, or anything else. They just hoped I would connect some vague need I had in the back of my head with what they might (or might not) be able to deliver and that would prompt me to pick up the phone.
  4. They are completely unable to track the effectiveness of any of it. So they spent $x (and time at $y/hour!) on printing, gas, distribution, etc., but most likely will be unable to tie a single sale back to their efforts. So it’s probably got a $0 return on investment (ROI).

A Much More Effective Way

To me, a far more effective method is to attract people to youwhen they are ready to buy, like when they are searching for your services on Google.

That’s very different than making me look at your stuff when I have absolutely no need for anything you have for sale.

If I need a new phone, I’m not going to call some random guy that left me his card on my windshield (that now I have to dispose of). No, I’m going to look online, compare phones, plans, service, costs, and everything else.

Then maybe, just maybe, I’ll give you a call, but only if you’re the right solution for me.

What marketing plans have you seen that just piss you off?

Tell me in the comments below.


Photo by Evil Erin

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About Thomas Petty (47 Articles)
Thomas Petty is a Digital Marketing Trainer at Thomas Petty Digital Marketing Solutions. He is a popular blogger and speaker and has trained businesses from around the world in digital marketing, search engine optimization and WordPress.