The One Rule Nearly Every Marketer Breaks

I was tempted to build on my 2019 resolutions post, “My 2019 Resolution For Marketers Concerning Ad Blockers,” and title this piece something along the lines of “A Resolution No Marketer Ever Follows” — but I figured the whole resolutions angle had been done enough.

Regardless of the title, what I am about to share with you is unequivocally the single rule nearly every marketer the world over breaks, time and again. But it’s not always their fault. 

I will explain.

Get Back in There and Sell! 

I am going to make a reference to a movie in a second (Please note: I am a monstrous fan of pop culture, and think infusing it into my articles helps tell a story and connect dots.) 

This particular reference is from the 1983 classic comedy film “Trading Places,” starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. If you’ve never seen it, stop reading this right now, go watch it, then come back. I’ll wait. 

OK, you can watch it after you read this. 

The following scene is near the end of the film and illustrates perfectly the one rule nearly every marketer makes. 

Did you catch it? Did you catch the rule in question? 

If not, go back and watch it again and listen to what the white-haired gentleman is telling the man who appears lifeless — flung over another man’s shoulder — to do. 

Get back in there and sell!

Where is it Written? 

Someone, anyone please show me in a marketing textbook or white paper or whatever where it is written that every single, solitary communication a consumer gets from Brand X MUST include at least one reference to the buying or renting of a given ware, product or service? 

Put another way: Brands don’t need to try and sell something every… single… solitary… time they communicate with a consumer! 

This is the rule that every marketer breaks. 

They feel the need to include something “salesy” in every communication they can. For example, you’ll get an email from Brand X that tells the story of a consumer using the brand  as they volunteer their time at a local shelter. 

When you get the email, you think: “What a great story!” That is, until you see the sidebar of the email, which includes a 20%-off coupon for your next purchase of (insert irrelevant and unrelated item here.) 

As my friend Ted Rubin, a social marketing strategist, put it way back in 2013: “People want to get information when they want it — not have it thrown at them — and they want to have conversations about and with brands.”

If you notice, nowhere in there does Ted say “People want sales, sales and more sales!”

The Bottom Line

Naturally the bottom line is always the bottom line. Brands are in business to make money, and to make money you need to sell something. I know, what brilliant insight, right? 

But to any marketer out there reading this who doesn’t grasp the concept that consumers do not want to be sold to at every turn: Let’s just say, you may want to consider a career change.

This article originally appeared on MediaPost.

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