These Are A Few Of My Favorite Peeves

Doesn’t it drive you bananas when someone spoils the ending of a movie you were going to see this weekend?

Or when you let a motorist merge in and they make the light while you’re stuck waiting for it to turn green again?

Or when you call customer service and, after having keyed in your account number, the first thing you’re asked for is your account number?

Here are some of my marketing pet peeves…

Registration Forms

It’s annoying to require visitors to register to simply read a case study or download a white paper. I mean, it’s marketing, not national security! Marketers seem to think that the names they collect from these forms are leads. Newsflash: they’re not. Sales knows this, because they NEVER follow through on them (much to the frustration of their marketing brethren). Curiously, marketing typically does nothing with them either.

Recently, I encountered a company that breaks new ground in obnoxiousness. For each piece of collateral I wanted to read, I had to fill out their registration form (No, cookies were not turned off on my browser). But the crème de la crème was when I filled out the form for a white paper and found a second, lengthier questionnaire that did not prepopulate with the first form’s information! #fail

I suspect most visitors either navigate away from registration forms – perhaps to a competitor – or circumvent the intended purpose by filling it in with garbage. At least that’s what I find both in practice and when auditing these so-called lead databases.

Better to make as much content available as possible. Or, as Dave Daniels at Pragmatic Marketing counsels: How valuable is (your content) if no one actually reads it?

A Leading Provider Of…

That legions of companies include this language in the About Us sections of their websites and press releases suggests that corporate marketing departments and their PR agencies lack originality and operate from yesterday’s marketing playbook.

Seriously, are we to believe that every one of these companies is a leading provider within their space? This “me too” language is marketing drivel that’s supposed sound smart and important.

I’m not suggesting that you describe your company as mediocre, struggling or fair-to-middling. Remember the classic Avis commercial? Hertz owned the Number One position in the car rental market; they were the leading provider. Avis played the underdog and appealed to buyers with “We try harder.”

A marketing wiz once told me to cut out the fluff and tell the audience what’s in it for them. As marketers, let’s start by banning the phrase, “a leading provider of…”

RT Without Adding Value

Retweeting does not constitute social media marketing. Yes, it’s flattering to the author (please feel free to retweet anything I say!) but it doesn’t add to the conversation with your audience, which is the whole point of social media marketing. Ditto for inserting another author’s content into your blog without adding any additional perspective.

My friend Jeff Majka says that compelling content is the new advertising. He argues that content is about connecting with your audience and communicating something of value.

When you forward someone else’s thoughts without adding your own, you miss an opportunity to put your stamp on the conversation – to educate and influence your audience.

At a minimum, connect the dots. Tell them why you think it’s important and give them a reason to click through. That way, you can engage your audience, elicit their feedback and identify ways you can solve their problems.

Haven’t Heard From You In A While

Whenever a company hasn’t announced news for a while, its audience (buyers, partners, media, etc.) starts to wonder what it’s doing. Is the business healthy? Or worse, is it still around? Absence does not make the heart grow fonder.

Many marketers and their PR agencies believe that unless you have an A-level news story – like a product launch, customer win, partnership, funding, or new executive hire – you shouldn’t announce anything. Problem is, if you’re a startup or small technology company, those milestones can mean months of silence.

Marketers need to lower this high standard and think creatively about how to generate news and content to maintain a steady flow of communication. Fair game includes participation at conferences, speaking engagements, webinars, newly-published customer success stories, white papers or ebooks, blog posts, commentary on industry trends, etc. Experiment to find the right balance.


Tchotchkes, swag or giveaway items are a colossal waste of marketing dollars. There, I said it.

Please, a pen or a golf shirt or a USB drive doesn’t impact a prospective buyer, partner or journalist. If I had a dollar for every time an AE told me he couldn’t go on a sales call without bringing something I’d be rich. I usually share the story of a new AE who closed a deal with Microsoft before her business cards had even been printed, and suggest instead that they bring a pen and pad to take notes.

Here’s what happens to tchotchkes: shirts get used for weekend painting or landscaping projects, pens get lost and USB drives wind up in desk drawers or bags (I actually do like those!).

Alright, there may be exceptions. Shirts could make sense for company personnel at industry events and conferences or for field personnel such as installers. But otherwise, use your marketing dollars more wisely.


What are your marketing peeves? Care to comment on mine?

(Image: zarprey)

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