One Of The Greatest Marketing Mistakes
Corbitt Chandler Thursday, January 10, 2019
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There are two little words that when said in a marketing context whether it’s with a client or at an internal meeting with my team make my stomach turn. It’s literally like I have an aversion to these seemingly insignificant, but in reality incredibly significant little words that are used way too often.
They’re not very intimidating from the outset and even can seem innocent, but in a marketing context, they can be destructive to any campaign. I truly believe this to be one of the greatest marketing mistakes that can be made and it happens a great deal.
Do you want to know what they are?
The two words are, “I like…”
In any other context, not a big deal. We’re allowed to “like” things. I like all kinds of things, but when it comes to marketing it doesn’t matter what I or any other one person likes for that matter.
I hear these two little potentially campaign damning words all the time from clients no matter the company's size or specific industry. In corporate America where I spent over a decade, these two words were more than commonplace from the executive staff who used them as if they were a Judge slamming his gavel down sentencing someone.
The words “I like” can escape and create toxicity into a number of places they don’t need to be. Really any strategy session can be infiltrated by them and the reality is unless you're talking about your flavor of ice cream, style of clothing, etc. they shouldn't be used. Certainly, not as Gospel which many times they are.
Watch out for them in your next meeting. If you haven’t stepped back to observe this, it will now be like when you buy a new car and then see 5 of the exact same cars the next day. The sentence always starts, ends or has somewhere in between it in some form or fashion, “I like.”
“I like this color on this section of the page.”
“I like the way this (insert whatever here) looks.”
“THIS is what I like.”
Again, from the outset stating that you like something doesn’t sound as such a bad thing, does it? The client or someone on your team should be able to express to you their preferences and to that, I would say, "you're absolutely correct!"
But, often times when “I like” or whatever that really subjective personal preference is trumps what matters, that's where we get into trouble.
So, what is it that truly matters over our client's preferences and even our own? When you’re creating your next killer campaign no matter who it’s for what you or anyone else likes is many times the exact opposite of what matters most. What matters most is “what works” and what works is based on market data.
While someone liking something is subjective, what works is objective because it’s based on the market place’s preferences and historical PROVEN evidence. Specifically, key learnings that are once again proven, time-tested and drive campaign the most important thing in any campaign - tangible results.
These tactics and methodologies drive results not because, we at my agency, Apex Current or any marketer worth their salt wants some element in a certain way, but because it’s what the marketplace wants. Those many rounds of testing lead to refinement that creates these key learnings.
You see we live in a free market economy here in the US (as well as any many other countries today) and that free market votes with their hard-earned dollars. You either get votes and you win the day or you don’t and it’s back to the drawing board.
Because as the marketplace makes value decisions it effectively votes up or down your whatever your campaign goals are be it leads, sales, app installs, downloads, etc.. As it votes up or down we have the ability to iterate upon each campaign effort and it is improved upon to find what works.
Of course, this is not some sort of blanket-type collective brain trust where one refined campaign for a product/service-type for a specific audience will translate over to another. Each one is effective campaign is unique to a number of independent factors that create a recipe for success. These elements are the offer, product/service and/or marketplace you are targeting.
As you go through this iteration process you will be able to take with you those successes into other campaigns. You’ll find overlaps, certainly, and use that expertise to guide your next steps.
Dan Kennedy's marketing triangle displays this idea quite perfectly. Changing one of these three factors a new iteration process. You can derive certain key learnings and refined processes that you then bring to the table which over time lead to better decision-making processes for your next launch.
The emotional attachment to what a client or anyone else likes based on their arbitrary preferences doesn’t matter at the end of the day and can prove highly detrimental to any marketing campaign. Especially if those preferences are not allowed to be iterated upon properly.
As marketers and specifically on the performance-driven side of things where Apex Current lives (meaning our revenue is based upon driving tangible results), we have the responsibility to steer our clients to whatever has been seen to produce results as quickly as possible.
If not, a few different scenarios will play out:
The client’s campaign performance will suffer…
The client's campaign results will likely not be as positive as they could have been…
At the very worst, the client will be lost and 9 times out of 10 the blame will fall on you or your agency’s shoulders. Even though, at the end of the day, you were simply trying to appease them by implementing their preferences.
It truly is a lose-lose situation.
Sometimes - though rare - your client’s personal preferences or past experiences will perform well, but those situations are rare. The first situation would be similar to hitting a home run your first at-bat. The latter is probably not likely going to be the case given they’ve hired you because whatever they’re currently implementing hasn’t been working.
It is our responsibility and duty to guide our clients even if it causes conflict. Sometimes a gentle nudge is in order and sometimes it has to be a little more firmly than we would like. It always takes a little strategy in how we approach it especially if they feel strongly about something you already know won’t work.
Depending on where you’re at in your journey as you begin to work with bigger brands you’ll see this happen more frequently. Remember, your weapon of choice is to always lean on the data. If you have historical evidence of something working or not that should be your go-to offensive.
The main reason is that the data as I referenced earlier is objective. You don’t feel this way, on the contrary, you have no feelings on the matter at all. Your desire is for them to have the best possible outcome and you’re confident based on historical evidence what the next step would be.
Another avenue and something we now try our best to do these days are to structure our agreements that allow for us to have as much control over the campaign as possible. This way there’s almost no argument. If we’ve identified a winner or winners in specific verticals, we implement that proven formula and won’t veer from it because even the smallest change can prove fatal to the campaign.
So, when you’re discussing your next marketing campaign and someone starts referencing what they like or prefer unless it’s based on some sort of historical data, please nudge them in the direction of what’s going to produce the most results. Ultimately, it’s better for everyone that way. It might not be easy at the moment, but in the long run, it’ll pay off for you, your client and the marketplace you’re serving.