Articles Posted in Bad Marketing

IMG_0245Numbered lists on blogs are all the rage, particularly at the turn of a new year.

Since mid December my RSS feed has been stuffed with 10 best if 2011, 20 ways to do that, and 12 things to look for in the new year. Oh February please come soon.

If you find yourself falling for this brand of year-end-birdbrainery consider the following 5 points.

r67ye5tertgrgtreBooks, iPads, and the Kindle are changing the fundamental structure of the publishing industry. From a strategic perspective they are having the largest impact on the development and pricing of products. In other words it is affecting the “what” deeply. The “how” has not changed all that much, regardless of whether you are selling print and/or technology.

There are four fundamental strategies for a growing a company in the K12 sector because even in the best of times K12 is (mostly) a zero sum game. In 2008 I wrote a post about this competitive dynamic:

In normal times education budgets grow at 2%-5% a year. Most start-ups or new products need to grow at a huge multiple of that – 30% to 300% or even more. Mathematically in order for you to grow someone else is must lose out.

We are most definitely not living in “normal times” these days. Any growth strategy in today’s market is fighting gravity as school budgets are expected to fall next year after the stimulus has expired.

Sign Danger Two Way FeedI just got back from two weeks off, really off as in “I read 6 books” off.* The whole family sat on a chilly island in the Northwest and just let the old mazooma roll in. I highly recommend it.

My time away generated the germ of a couple of meta posts about publishing in the era of social media. But, before we get to that I saw the worst use of social media on on my flight out. If there were social media police these guys would be doing hard time.

I use an off-site parking lot when I travel. They get all the fundamentals exactly right – there is always space, you are always picked up within 1-2 minutes, they are clean, drivers are pleasant etc. etc. They normally bring their A game to everything they do.

Wrong Way Go BackThere is a profitability model for companies promoting themselves on Facebook and Twitter. There a lot of people making good coin from the incessant flogging of companies and organizations in social media. It just isn’t the companies themselves who are profiting.

Here is how it works in four easy steps:

  1. An executive is at the dentist’s office and sees the plea to friend and follow them. A dim light bulb goes off – “we should do this too.” Lemming marketing almost never works, particularly when you are following behind your Dentist.
  2. Someone in Marketing with an advertising background is assigned the task of building a following in “social media.” This is so important that they are given a bonus. The performance metrics are the evil stepchildren of the “brand impressions” school of marketing metrics. Quantity over quality.
  3. A campaign of whinging pleas to friend and follow ensues. We see this in every piece of literature the company products (annual reports – really?), at trade shows (“it only takes a minute!”), and even on flashing freeway signs (“great idea, let me do that while I’m driving…”). Logrolling and sock-puppetry are rampant – many of the “followers” are marketing people at other companies playing the same game.
  4. The metrics are hit, the bonus is paid. PROFIT!

This whole scenario is so wrong on so many levels it makes my teeth hurt. Here are some thoughts to help reframe this approach that map back to each stage of the process above.

IMG_0052What could be nerdier than a huge ed-tech trade show? It has technology, teachers, curriculum, and lot of gee whiz bang products. I’m sure a couple of the hotels had mad D&D sessions going late into the night.

I’ll tell you what is nerdier – judging the marketing efforts at said trade show. Welcome to my world.

Most K12 education technology companies launch new products at ISTE. Companies go all out to put their best foot forward which means it is the fairest opportunity we have each year to pass judgement on the quality of their marketing.

moran-7512Email marketing is pretty simple – as much as possible communicate with people who want to hear from you. But a subset of these folks just don’t get it.

If I go to the trouble of clicking “unsubscribe” please do not send me ANOTHER FRICKING EMAIL CONFIRMING I NO LONGER WANT EMAIL FROM YOU.

It insures that I move from the “mildly annoyed” column to “actively pissed off at your company” status.

532497422_f925be50c4_oOne of the annoying parts of running a blog are the spam comments from people who want to surreptitiously sneak a back-link to their site on your blog. Askimet handles most of this automatically (thank you – thank you – thank you) but every day one or two servings of spam get past the filters.

Normally the posts are pretty lame “Great post – please write more…blah blah blah” hoping that your ego gets in front of your ability to see that the website link is “”

Today was different. Whoever was at the other end of the intertubes was clearly making an effort to at least amuse themselves. While I won’t post the link I will share the content of the comment for your amusement.

Christmas SpamIs it just me or is everyone else sick of getting “wishing you a merry christmas” emails flooding their inboxes?

I know, I know – we’re all hella busy and this is the time of year we are supposed to reconnect, so sending an on-line card or email seems like a quick solution.

But it reeks of insincerity. And its spam. So stop – pretty please?

failIf you want to be taken seriously in the age of social media you have to speak authentically or people won’t believe you. Your marketing messages are a promise. I’ve written about delivering on that promise. Today I want to focus on the words.

For the promise to be taken seriously the words you choose are just as important as the message they carry. If you dress it up too much you sound like you are selling – and almost no one is buying that any more.

Being authentic is scary. We have to reveal something of ourselves. We become accountable to others. But in an ocean of hype authentic voices are winning the day (blogs, wikis, Twitter) because people are hungry for genuine human connections.

Another entry in our sporadic series on bad marketing.

This video is hilarious. I love the “my daughter didn’t get it” and “we’ve love it but have some minor tweaks.” I’ve been known to say the latter.

From the target market definition to the creative it skewers slack thinking and over-engineering.