I have written before about the contrast between pure marketing (brand building) and sales promotion (generating leads). However, although it is important to recognise this distinction, the reality for most SME businesses is a mixture. Most of their marketing communication involves both. When talking to your market, there is often at least an element of lead generation. So, if lead generation is a factor in a good deal of SME marketing, in conjunction with brand building, how do you get the balance right and avoid missing the mark? This may sound like a strange question but recently I have come across a number of cases where people have got it wrong. I’d like to focus on two quite different cases which miss the mark in two very different ways (identifying details have been changed to protect the originators!).
Who is this marketing stuff for anyway?
My first case involves a family-run professional services business. They had recently established e-newsletter process to keep in touch with clients (all good so far!). The time arrived for their next e-newsletter but they had no content calendar and no plan as to what to write about. With no considered marketing content, the team naively fall into a common trap. It is easier to talk about ourselves. Often the main result of internally focussed messages is content which doesn’t centre on the audience and their needs/interests. Consequently, this type of content struggles to engage with them. This isn’t great but you can get away with it every now and again. There is even the argument that, for a family business where key personalities are an important part of the business ‘package’, some personal insight can be a good thing. However, writing to your customers about the great (and expensive!) holiday the family has just taken doesn’t send a good message. Yes, they really did this! Moral: When planning marketing messages, put yourself in the shoes of your intended recipients. How might your message come over to them? If you struggle with this, you could even ask a few of your closest customers for their thoughts before you send to everyone. Once it is out there, it’s too late!
Too good to be true? It probably is
In my first example, the focus was undoubtedly brand building – or not! Their lack of planning meant no time for consideration of how the message would be received. The result was a message that backfired, negatively impacting on the company brand. In my second example, the goal is clearly lead generation. This time, maybe too much focus was put on achieving the goal – perhaps at the expense of clarity? Is a short-term gain enough, even if there is a longer-term cost? I was looking to replace my mobile phone and came across an offer – backed by both the phone manufacturer and major UK retailers. The offer was a ‘Reward’ of £100 (note: NOT ‘up to’ £100) on top of the Trade-in value of my old phone. This looked good so I bought my new phone. To trade in my old phone, I went on their website and found the Trade-in value – £115. This was without any reward so naturally, I expected an offer of £215. In fact, when I claimed the deal, the offer was ….£160. So what happened to the other £55? The answer: Terms & Conditions. Under these, the maximum offer was restricted. Effectively the real Reward could be reduced as some of it was used as a contribution to the full trade-in value. Maybe not a big deal but it is not what they appeared to offer. OK, they got the lead – and got the deal, but my view of the brands (both phone and retailer) have been hit and will affect future buying decisions. If you have to rely on terms and conditions to qualify or restrict an offer you are apparently making, is that ever going to leave a good impression? I suggest not. Effective marketing should always be based on openness and integrity.