Marketing is what we do that puts us in a position to make a sale. Good marketing makes selling easier. Bad marketing may make selling impossible.
We market to strangers so some of them will raise their hand with at least potential interest in what we have on offer.
We market to our clients and customers in order to move them up to the next level of products or services.
Most of us put a lot of time, money, and effort into marketing. For must of us it is the key activity we use to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.
But when we don't deliver on the promises we make in our marketing we unleash the deadly 3/33 viruses on ourselves.
The 3/33 virus will destroy the marketing we have done in the past and it will make it very difficult to successfully market - at least to some prospects - in the future. And for the most part the 3/33 virus is a do-it-to-yourself process.
The 3/33 virus is word of mouth marketing on steroids - in reverse. Here's how it works.
When you fulfill a promise, deliver excellent service, come in under budget, and save your customer more money than you said you would - they might tell 3 people. And that usually is because you asked them for referrals.
But if you screw up, don't do what you said you would do, or fail to deliver in any way - in your customer's mind - they will tell at least 33 people. This can be disaster.
You know I am speaking the truth. Remember the last time you got poor service in a restaurant and how many people you went out of your way to tell about it?
Here are three ways to guarantee that all the marketing you've done will backfire on you.
Don't Do What You Said You'd Do
In 2006 I met the author of a marketing book at the Search Engine Strategies event in New York City. I had been receiving his email newsletter and had heard a few things about the book. A table where he could autograph books had been set up for him at the Search Engine Strategies meeting. When there was no one around I approached him and found him to be a very insightful person, someone whose book would probably be of value to our readers.
He offered to send me a review copy and I thanked him. After the event I emailed him a note with my mailing address. I never received the book. I received several emails to the address I had given him, but they were solicitations sent to everyone he'd come across at the search engine event.
I don't know if he never intended to follow up with his promise, or if he turned it over to someone else, or what. The bottom line is that I will never have anything positive to say about him, his organization, or his book. That can't be what this marketer had in mind when he went to the time, trouble, and energy to come to New York.
Disappear With Your Customer's Money
The Internet makes it possible to hire people you will never see to do something you can not do and really have no way of knowing it will work until it's too late, and pay them via your PayPal account before they've even begun to do the work.
I have done this several times without incident. Recently however I hired someone, on the strength of another person's recommendation, who kept my money and disappeared. He had promised to do the work within 48 hours of receiving my payment. But instead I heard nothing from him for six weeks, at which point he contacted me to see if there was some way to make up for his failure to follow through.
I was astounded, but since I'd already paid him I asked him to do something that was worth less than half of what he'd already been paid. Hey, we all deserve a second chance. What happened? Nothing, I never heard from him again.
It's hard to say if I would have ever needed his services in the future anyway - so it was just a tedious time consuming event for me, getting someone else to do the job and so forth. But what did it do to the relationship I had had with the person who recommended him?
This was someone I trusted. Now I have to think twice about anything he has to sell me. And I am not going to tell my friends to do business with him in the future. Why would I take the chance he will recommend something or someone whose lack of performance comes back to bite me?
Embarrass Your Boss
Everybody's got to serve somebody was a line in one of Bob Dylan's songs. So no matter who you are or the position you have in your outfit - you do have a boss, maybe many of them.
Prior to events where I am registered as part of the media horde, I receive a stream of emails from companies that are making presentations or have exhibits there. A week before the 2007 Search Engine Strategies meeting in New York I received an interview request from the PR firm representing an organization I wanted to learn more about.
Actually I received three emails from them, each with open time slots, so I could chose one of the remaining times for the interview.
This is the way it's always done. By the time I get to the site I have several one on one interviews set up with people whose message, I think, will be of value to our readers. So I emailed my choice of day and time, from one of the remaining time slots.
In this case however, the PR person never go back to me. How was that possible, that was his job?
I was curious about the lack of follow up, from a PR person no less, so I printed out the email I'd sent and took it along with me to the meeting.
On the second day of the search engine conference I scoured the exhibit halls and eventually found the person I had wanted to interview. I still wanted to talk with him if we could work out the time.
You can imagine his response to my story and the copy of my email when I presented it to him.
You can also guess the fate of the PR firm who had mishandled their account. It seems I was not the only person affected by this - one of whom was an industry leader the boss really wanted to meet.
So, who's your boss? Whose opinions are important to you? Who do you serve? Are you doing everything you can and more to make sure you aren't disappointing or embarrassing them?
How can you be sure to avoid the three worst marketing mistakes? Only make promises you can keep, and keep the ones you make. It's as simple as that.