Bad Marketing | Frustrated woman at laptop

What’s Up with So Much Bad Marketing?

Over the past few months, I’ve been subjected to some truly bad marketing. I’m not talking about horrendous missteps that generate bad publicity and drag down profits. 


Instead, I’m talking about very basic mistakes that never should have happened in the first place if someone had been paying attention. Though these mistakes are small, they are still costly. Brands get dinged, and potential customers get turned off.


Enough talking in abstractions. Here’s what I’ve seen lately.


So much bad marketing!


With the exception of the first example, I am not calling out any companies by name. They are all small businesses, and I don’t believe in dragging them down for a mistake. I just hope they see this blog post and make notes!


Awful image treatment in a blog post


Vail Resorts is a billion-dollar company that owns ski areas around the world. I know they have a healthy marketing budget, just based on all the social and print ads I see and the number of emails I get from them. But does anyone in their marketing department pay attention? 


Case in point: This blog post on family-owned restaurants in Vail. Take a look. I’ll give you a minute.


Did you notice that most of the photos are clipped to the point that people’s heads are cut off from the top and their bodies from the bottom?


bad blog image


This should never happen – ever – in any blog post, let alone one from such a massive company. The fix is so simple: PREVIEW YOUR BLOG POST! And then adjust your image settings. 


If that doesn’t work, turn to your web developer. I assume Vail has someone on their team who can help.


Remember: always preview your blog post, web page, or email before pushing it live. 


Websites with hard-to-find contact information …


About a month ago, I moseyed over to the website of a very established small business that I’ve been patronizing for years. I needed to give them a call and discuss an order I wanted to place. But I couldn’t find their phone number! 


I knew I had seen it. I was on a product page, so I scrolled down to the bottom. Nope, it’s not in the footer. I sat and stared at this product page for a few seconds, and then I noticed it! 


Their phone number appears in white, teeny-tiny font on a very thin ribbon of blue at the top of every page. Even with my glasses on, it was hard to read.


(Yes, their contact information is on their contact page – also in very small font.)


Please go check your website now and make sure customers and potential customers can easily find and read your contact information. 


and outdated design 


My wonderful most favorite accountant in the whole world is retiring, so I started looking for a new one here in Colorado. I thought the best place to start was our local chamber of commerce website. Bingo – a bunch of local accounting firms are members.


The first website I pulled up made my eyes water. I’m guessing it was designed 20 years ago – and hasn’t been touched since. 


I can’t think of a single excuse for holding onto a creaky old website. It makes their brand look out of touch, and it makes them look cheap. Accounting is complex; I want to work with someone who is on top of things and committed to investing in the long-term health of their company. 


Plus, don’t they want to make a positive first impression? Because they certainly did not with me. As a result, they lost me as a potential client. Instead, I am meeting with another firm next week. (And yes, the other firm has a very nice website.)


If your website hasn’t been updated in the last five years, get in touch with a web designer ASAP.


Print and social ads that lack basic information


I have come across far too many print and social ads for restaurants, bars, and events here in Colorado that do not list the location – not the town, not the street address. 


I’m new to these parts, but even if I wasn’t, why would you assume everyone is familiar with your business? Or has attended your events in the past?


Totally baffles the mind.


Don’t assume – always include all relevant information people may need to patronize your business or event. Include date, time, address, website, and phone number.


Harshly worded email 


Fire mitigation is a big deal in the West, especially in the area of Colorado where we live. I asked a local landscaping company to come out and give us an estimate for tree trimming, fuel clean up (any dead or dry wood or underbrush is considered fuel. If you’d like to learn more about fire mitigation, I’m here all day), and some actual landscaping for our front yard.


The landscaper who came out was lovely. We walked all over the property, discussed the work, and a few days later I got the estimate via email.


I opened the email and was taken aback. Two solid blocks of harshly worded terms and conditions. Here’s an excerpt:


ANY COMPLAINTS, CONCERNS OR MISSING WORK CALLED ON AFTER THE 24-HOUR TIME FRAME WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED VALID. No warranty is provided on any kind of work. We recommend the homeowner/ customer be present when the work is being performed. Request for work needs to be submitted by email or communicated through office phone. NO TEXT MESSAGES REQUESTING WORK ARE VALID. 


They couldn’t have started the email with a “Hi Monika, we are excited to work with you! Here are our terms and conditions”? Or maybe just tuck these into the bottom of the estimate?


The email actually made me feel like I had done something wrong and needed to be reprimanded. Not a good way to start out a relationship!


(Yes, they did do the fire mitigation work, but it keeps snowing – yes, in May and now in June – so the landscaping work hasn’t been done yet.)


Even if you have to deliver information that isn’t fun, find a way to soften it up. And be sure every email to your customers make them feel welcome and valued. 


Your turn!


I can’t be the only one experiencing bad marketing. What have you seen lately? I’m all ears!


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