Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stop the Big Bad Marketing Machine

I just got a telemarketing call at work. It was a recorded message from some “dinner at home” delivery place. They might have a good product, but I will never know because I hung up on that stupid recorded voice, disgusted. And if I could remember their name I would make a mental note never to use their services just because of that call.

I also got spammed today. By my church! They sent me an email letting me know that it was time to join the Summit and get baptized. What?!? After almost a year of contemplating this very thing, I already took that step- LAST MONTH. And they didn’t even notice? They are lucky that I already love the Summit because it really is a great church, but unfortunately they have fallen prey to bad marketing tactics too. And that makes me sad.

I have worked in marketing for almost 6 years now and these types of things make me embarrassed to call myself a marketer.

When it boils down to it marketing is communication. To effectively communicate with someone you have to get to know them. Most marketers don’t care about you; they just want you to care about them. Their bad marketing tactics have poisoned many of my communication tools over the last couple years.

First was direct mail. When I go to my mailbox, I stand right by the recycle bin and throw out anything that looks like unsolicited communication before I even walk in the house. I hate checking my mail for this very reason. For me snail mail is becoming obsolete and I have feeling marketers had something to do with that.

Then it was telemarketing. When I used to have a home phone, I could tell when I was about to receive an unsolicited message. There would be a pause and a click before some recorded message started or some telemarketer picked up the phone because he was next in the queue. Now I have only a cell phone and can count on one hand the number of times this has happened in the past 3 years. And it was always a company I had used before and had given my number to, so it wasn’t that bad. But for me, the home phone is now obsolete and marketers are partly to blame.

(You know what else is obsolete for me? Phone books. I had one sitting in front of my door yesterday and just looking at it made me mad. It was as thick as 5 laptops stacked on top of each other. Where in the heck would I put that? I knew I would never use it, so it went right in the recycle bin too.)

Next up were commercials. My favorite TV programs were interrupted by messages from the highest bidder. I found my way around that one too with DVR. I hate watching live TV now. I can cut 15 minutes out of each hour long TV show with my DVR by fast-forwarding through commercials.

And now we have SPAM. David Meerman Scott (a marketing strategist whose blog I read) was talking about job seeking yesterday and had this quote about spam: “Spam is email that is sent, unsolicited, to a large number of people in substantially the same format.” I get hundreds of spam messages everyday. I try to keep it under control with junk folders and unsubscribe features, but I have already begun using this form of communication less and less due to those pesky marketers.

Why are marketers ruining all these perfectly useful tools? It’s because once in a blue moon, it works. All they need now-a-days is for one or two suckers out of thousands to respond to their offer, and that validates that someone out there hears them. So they keep doing it. It drives me mad.

But consumers are smart. Eventually if a communication tool is being abused, someone will find a way around it.

So what does work? Word of mouth is and will always be the best and most reliable way to tell people about your products. But it’s slow and it is hard to measure. So marketers don’t like that.

But the other ways do work sometimes. I sat here and tried to think what types of marketing messages are working on me lately. I must admit commercials do still work sometimes when I see them. (Like the new Blackberry Storm commercial and the “I’m a PC” commercial.) Email does too, if it is not too frequent and it is something worth opening like a great coupon or targeted message. Loyalty programs and “clubs” work too. I like to earn points and get special “members-only” offers. I like being rewarded for being a loyal customer. Other than that, it is sticking to my “old-faithful” stores and brands. Also just shopping helps me discover new products that appeal to me (whether online or in person). And usually it will be because the product, packaging, or display is visually pleasing to me.

I don’t know how to stop this big, bad marketing machine, but I have to believe that there is a better way to get a message out there. My one ray of hope is this Web 2.0 Social Marketing wave. But I am afraid that this tool will also start to be abused. I really want to turn this big bad marketing machine around and I think a lot of people in my generation do too. That is why I am in marketing. That is my mission.

I am also finding myself more and more interested in design and product development. It effects marketing. Sometimes design can make all the difference. Things that are visually stimulating or entertaining will break through all that marketing noise. And you have to have a good product to have effective marketing or else consumers will figure it out really quickly and you won't last.

I want the company I work for and the products or services we sell to be remarkable. I want our advertising to be interesting and buzz-worthy. Because I still believe in quality over quantity. And if you really work hard and as a team, why can’t you have both?

So help me out…what kind of marketing works for you? How do you find out about new products?

OMG- Right after I posted this I noticed a new comment on one of my old posts and it was my first freaking spam comment that started "Dear Blog Owner..." and requested that I link to her site- it was some shopping site! ARHG! I must be cursed today!!

1 comment:

Jamie said...

I hide from marketers too. I don't have a TV. I watch movies and TV's shows on DVD if I get a good reccomendation from a reliable source. I unsubscribe, spam block and use a cell phone only too. Sometimes I wonder if I'm missing out or am uninformed but then I visit someone who does have a TV and am so annoyed by all the commercials I know I'm in a good place. Word of mouth wins me over and I don't own a whole bunch of useless crap that someone duped me into buying.