5 Marketing Nightmares (and How to Avoid Them)
October 31, 2016 by Andrew Symes
Halloween is the scariest day of the year, and there’s nothing more terrifying than a marketing program gone wrong! Here are five true marketing tales that are sure to chill you to the bone…
1. Your Print Ad Has a Major Typo
Picture this. You’ve secured a full page, colour ad in a major industry publication. You can’t wait to get your hands on the issue, and when you finally receive the magazine and flip to your ad you discover that…your URL is misspelled! GASP!
We know of a local company who faced this problem, but dealt with it in stride. The ad designers had omitted a letter in the company’s domain name and the mistake was missed by both the company and the magazine. When the company learned of the mistake, they purchased the misspelled domain name to redirect any visitors who typed it into their web browser verbatim.
The print ad was meant to build brand awareness, not drive traffic to the website, but the error still stung. The lesson here is to have multiple people in the company review ads carefully and assign a copyeditor to run through each word (including the URL!) in any published print material before it goes to print!
2. Your Trade Show Booth is Lost or Damaged in Transit
Trade shows require a large investment of both funds and time. What happens if, despite your best planning and efforts, your booth doesn’t show up on time, or arrives damaged? The key is to swing into action as soon as you learn about the problem. Ideally, you should have a backup plan in place before the show so that you can act on a moment’s notice.
For example, local printers can create temporary signage quickly if you have print-ready graphics and instructions ready to go. It’s also a good idea for staff to pack a few smaller items with them, if possible, when they travel so that you can have at least a few table-top displays or handouts available. Three very pack-able items we can recommend are:
- Carry-on roll-up banner
- A roll-able canvas banner
- A branded table cloth with a long skirt
These items are useful WITH your booth, as well.
Humour can also help. We know of one company that attracted attention through signage that said “Coming Soon: The Lost Trade Show Display!” while it waited for its delayed booth to arrive.
3. You Start Spamming Your Customers
E-mail is a fantastic way to keep your company in front of your prospects and customers. A good e-mail nurturing program can educate your audience, keep you top of mind, and give you insight into the offers, products, and services your stakeholders are interested in. But with e-mail marketing – especially automated e-mail marketing – it’s possible to accidently send the same e-mail to the same people dozens of times, or send the right e-mail to the wrong group of recipients.
We like using MailChimp for automated e-mails because it lets us schedule e-mails for a later time, and its analytics give us insight into how the messages are propagating and being used. By scheduling e-mails, we can thoroughly review the e-mail and/or recognize any potential problems before the e-mail is actually sent. MailChimp also requires conscious effort to send the same email campaign to multiple lists, and has a number of checks and reminders along the way.
In the case of a major e-mail SNAFU, the best approach is to apologize to the affected recipients, explain why the mistake happened, and outline the steps you’re taking to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Most recipients will be understanding of a one-time mistake, but it will be difficult to regain their trust if you continue to send mistake-ridden or irrelevant e-mail.
4. You Exceed Your Monthly AdWords Budget in One Day
By default, it’s impossible to exceed the budget you set for yourself in pay-per-click programs like Google AdWords. Mistakes can happen, however, if multiple campaigns (which each have their own daily budgets) are accidentally run at the same time, or if your maximum daily budget is set too high. In the early days of AdWords, one of our clients set a maximum daily budget that was much higher than it was actually willing to spend to ensure that its ads remained visible throughout the entire day. It assumed that the average daily click volumes for its enterprise software product would remain steady, and that spikes in clicks would be minimal since its target audience was small. Unfortunately, a small wording change in one of its ads caused a huge influx of clicks one weekend from home users (not its niche business customers) which quickly depleted its budget.
When running AdWords, small changes can have large effects, so it’s important to have someone check in frequently on the account, monitor weekly spending, and set daily budgets appropriately!
5. Your Big Event Doesn’t Happen
Sometimes, despite top notch communication and promotion, a marketing activity can end in failure. This is especially true for event-based marketing activities, as well as media relations. As we wrote in a blog post last year entitled You Can’t Control Everything, inclement weather can ruin the best outdoor displays or keep people away, or your live TV appearance can be bumped by a breaking news story.
Sometimes, the best plan is to simply have another event planned! A successful follow-up event often helps to erase a previous disappointment from memory and recoup any goodwill that may have been lost. Imagine an email to attendees who couldn’t attend your event due to bad weather: “You couldn’t get in due to bad weather – that really ‘blows’, doesn’t it?! No worries, we will be doubly happy to see you at next month’s event. In the meantime, we’re attaching a summary of yesterday’s event and will be happy to discuss these topics over phone or Skype any time.”
Tell Us Your Scary Story
These are just a few of the nightmares that keep us awake at night. Do you have a marketing nightmare – real or imagined – that you tell around the campfire? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook, and we’ll share some of the best ones!