In honor of Halloween night, let’s gather ‘round your LCD screens large and small and tell stories of the scariest marketing mistakes of 2016. Be forewarned: Some of these goofs are not for the faint of heart.
The marketer who didn’t put strategy first. It probably started with an innocent request from a top executive to “just do this one ad.” But then the “thing” got bigger, and without a strategic marketing plan in place, there were no marketing priorities to keep random requests at bay. Soon, everyone in the company who fancied him- or herself a marketer was demanding an advertisement or campaign for his or her pet project. Then, that thing just got out of control and swallowed the entire marketing budget.
The marketer who forgot loyal customers. Once there was a marketer so obsessed with attracting new customers through bigger and more elaborate lead generation techniques, she forgot about the importance of existing customers. Those loyal customers waited and waited for something that showed appreciation for their long-term commitment. But that never came, and, eventually, the customers lost their patience. They left the marketer all alone, entangled in her complicated web of new customer acquisition, oblivious to the fact that her best opportunity for success was with those who abandoned her. The marketer is still trying to crawl her way out of the mess she made.
The marketer who rejected search engine optimization (SEO). This marketer bought into the myth that SEO is dead. But what he didn’t count on was the fact that SEO remains a powerful building block of a sound marketing strategy. He stopped investing in SEO and completely ignored learning anything more about modern SEO techniques. As a result, customers couldn’t find him. His company is just a ghost of an entity, wandering around a website no one visits.
The marketer who didn’t respect content. Content is, of course, the king, but there were a few foolish knaves who thought themselves better and gave scant respect to content, rendering their websites relatively uninteresting and only rarely posting anything of value in social media. The content king was not happy and banished these fools to the dungeon of unsuccessful marketers where rarely a visitor approaches their solitary cells. Sometimes, these marketers are tortured by the distant sounds of happy marketers who took the time to create great content and now enjoy many grateful fans.
The marketer who promised his clients instant results. If you listen, you can still hear his hollow empty promises. If only he’d told his clients that good marketing takes time—even good digital marketing—he could have set reasonable metrics with his clients and educated them to understand the process. He should have tested and re-tested to find the sweet spot. But alas, the promise of quick results is only a tall tale, and that marketer is still spinning his yarns but no one wants to listen.
The marketer who skimped on social media costs. It’s an old campfire tale that social media doesn’t require a substantial budget for content creation, campaign development, and analytics. One marketer believed it, and now his neglected Facebook page and Twitter feeds haunt him at night.
The marketer who didn’t test campaigns. Did you hear about the marketer who never bothered A/B testing creative concepts or even headlines? She can be heard late at night in an office building in Chicago, moaning, “Why, why, why?”
Hopefully, this round-up of tales has you spooked into making changes before it’s too late. Happy Halloween, and may you never be visited by the ghosts of past mess ups. Tomorrow, with a new month beginning, we’ll look at a less frightful topic: how to start preparing for 2017.