This session is a bit different. I want to share with you a tale of irresponsible marketing that I experienced recently. The goal is to understand what marketing should be really about, how we can set it for success and the ways to create connection with customers and your team.
The Tale of Irresponsible Marketing
I worked with a service provider that helped me to reach and connect with my customers. Within a week, the CEO makes a blog post which starts out as “Death of the business name”. It reflects on how the company’s creator looks back at his four year old business and realizes that he secretly despised it. This story spans to three posts over a week and it keeps the clients in suspense about the future of the company.
The idea behind it was to create suspense, generate attention and then share their re-structuring plans. The post generated a lot of attention in a negative way. The way it was presented, abused the pristine client-provider relationship. He should have started with the re-structuring idea instead of polarizing the customer-base.
Lessons that came out of this irresponsible marketing effort
First we need to understand the objectives of marketing.
– It’s to create relationships that will convert into sales.
There are 5 objectives:
- To capture the market’s attention so they notice what you have to offer and how it’ll make a difference in their life.
- To communicate with empathy to show that you care about the customers, clients and your team.
- To create deep seated loyalty by offering your customers a solution that doesn’t just solve the issue but also creates a bigger vision for them.
- To convey low risk opportunity or entry point for your customers to do business with you.
- To connect emotionally so that your customers are with you because they believe in you.
The five questions we need to ask when deciding to go on a marketing campaign:
- Is it responsible?
- Is it caring and compassionate?
- Is it respectful?
- Does it build trust?
- Does what you are doing create a positive buzz and will people will talk about it?
— Begin Transcript —
Hey there I’m Mel Abraham, the author of The Entrepreneur’s Solution, the founder of Business Breakthrough Academy where we teach you how to design a business and create a life: A life of financial freedom and peace of mind.
And welcome to this episode of The Entrepreneur’s Solution Show and in this episode—it’s going to be a little different. Maybe, some of you might think it’s a rant but here’s what I want to do, is I want to talk about irresponsible marketing and the five lessons you can learn from irresponsible marketing.
This is about something that has happened to me just in the last oh, 4 to 6 weeks and just want to talk about it. I think it’ll be instructive to understand:
- What marketing is about,
- How to set your marketing up for success,
- How to create connection with your customers, with your team as you move forward.
So, after this brief introduction we’ll be back and we’ll talk about the five lessons that you can get out of irresponsible marketing. Talk to you soon.
Oh wait, before we get to that brief introduction, if you happen to not be at your computer and you’re on the road listening to this and you want to get the downloadable guidebook, go ahead and text MYLEGACY to 38470. That’s 38470. MYLEGACY no spaces as if it was one word. We’ll get a text to you with the download link.
It’s going to ask you to give me your name, your first name and your email address through the text. Do that, we’ll get you into the system. Look forward to seeing you after this brief introduction. Talk to you soon.
Hey there welcome back, this is Mel Abraham of the The Entrepreneur’s Solution Show and as I said earlier, I want to have a frank discussion about marketing—about frankly, irresponsible marketing. Let me tell you what happened and I’m going to kind of give you the rundown.
But, I actually started a relationship with a service provider—with a company that was helping me connect to my customers and it was a service provider that allowed me to reach out, reach out to customers.
Now, I’m trying to … I’m not going to give you the company name because I think that it would be inappropriate at this stage but this is this something I was testing out and wanted to create a relationship with. Now, when I … when I look at working with people on an ongoing basis, I want to create … I am looking at a long-term relationships—this isn’t transactional.
I never really look for a transactional situation because transactional relationships—they’re fleeting, they’re not valuable, you can’t create a mutually beneficial/valuable relationship except for that moment and it doesn’t really feel good and I think that our marketplace today is looking for something greater than a transaction. To transcend the transactional relationships, to create
- Something that is more meaningful,
- Something that is deeper,
- Something that is more valuable,
- Something that creates connection, and
- Creates in-effect evangelists.
And so, I started out with this service provider just to test them out and see how it goes and literally within a week, within a week of working with them, the CEO of the company sends out a blog and this blog, the subject line of the blog was “Death to …” and the company name.
So, certainly intriguing and I get marketing, marketing strategies. I get the strategy of influence and all these types of things. Certainly, intriguing but let’s just talk about what transpired from there and how this played out.
And I’m actually going to read some of the post to you because I think it sets the stage for what is going on. And so, what you have was a post that basically said, “The Death of” and the company name and written by the CEO and this was as it says on the screen, February 9, 2015. So, this was relatively recent and he goes on, he goes on in this post—it certainly piques the interest “The death of ”, I’m going to read it because I happen to be working with them, kind of wondering what’s going on.
So, he goes on to say, as he tells it in a story form—it was a wonderful write-up per say. He says, “I walked into the office just like any other day, yet this day it was different. It was filled with dread, doom, gloom and a sense that the end was near.”
It’s certainly not something:
• That’s going to create confidence,
• That’s going to create trust,
• That’s going to create certainty in my mind or my heart as a customer, as it went on.
So, he goes on and he says, “But on this day, it was bad and I felt like it was the end.”
So, he’s almost going through a confessional here, in the sense of what he is going … what’s going on in him. Now, what you don’t get, because I haven’t given you the whole post is that, this is a conversation and a reflection that he was going through from back in December. So, it’s been six weeks in the making and this is the culmination of it at this point in time, is to make this post.
So, later in the post he goes on and he says, “On a solemn walk on the beach I thought back over the four years of my business ”.
So effectively, so, it’s a brand new business. Four years is not that old, it’s not that weathered, it’s not that mature and you’re in a typical growth and growth curve, per say “and my frustrations lit a fuse that turned into a smoldering anger”.
Totally get it. I have built businesses from the ground, I’ve had the opportunity to scale businesses and build them once they plateaued and to try and get that fire started. There’s a challenge with business. When we start out as a startup, when we’re first starting out:
• We need certain systems,
• We need certain controls,
• We need certain elements.
To support us in the growth stages, the fledgling stages of business that accelerate growth period; that are different as we continue to grow, we need to be able to move beyond that in order to scale the business
• Beyond the million dollar mark.
• Beyond the five million dollar mark.
• Beyond the ten million dollar mark.
There’s plateaus and there’s differences that come about and during that process:
• Certainly there’s frustrations,
• Certainly there’s aggravations,
• Certainly there’s challenges and obstacles that we need to move through.
But the CEO, he continues on, he says, “The business was not what I envisioned it to be after all this time and right then and there, I realized I had built a business that I had grown to secretly despise”.
As a customer, it’s challenging for me to say, “Hey, I want to invest my time, my resources, my energy and my customers, my clients, the people that believe in me in a resource where I have the leadership who’s saying—I despise the business that I’m in”.
I want to work with people
• That have the heart in the business,
• That have the passion in the business,
• That have the belief in the business,
• That have my best interest and my clients’ best interest in mind.
Yet, he’s exposing the dirty laundry and I think that may be, he thought he was doing himself a favor but let’s see how this plays out and get the feel for what it was he was trying to accomplish because it’s still somewhat unclear to me.
I’ve not … truth be told, I’ve not had a conversation with the CEO about this and about the thought process behind this or the thought that may be this was a clever marketing ploy or because you’re going to see what he does with this to get the attention of the marketplace.
He said, “I spewed my frustrations, limitations and my creeping resentment for my average business, the startup that had just excitedly joined.”
So, what he did is he took a new employee and decided to express his frustrations. Now here’s someone that comes in and says, “I’m going to invest my life. I’m going to be an employee, I’m going to help you build your business and I’m going to believe in the business and I’m going to use this as a vehicle to have me self-actualize my life, my growth, my life at the higher level to take care of my family, to care of my children to do all of that”
And then immediately, here’s the CEO saying, “Meh! This is frustrating, it’s aggravation … aggravating and I actually despise this.”
Then he goes on and says, “I thought out loud. Am I a captain of a sinking ship? Have we turned into a Zombie start-up?”
Interesting analogy, interesting kind of things he says, “Or do I dig my heels in deep and give it everything I’ve got? In that moment, I was certain of one thing—the business needed a change”.
He talks about how he was so frustrated with the business here in this lengthy blog post and gets to a point where he’s saying,
• I despise it,
• It’s not what I wanted,
• It’s not what I want in life,
• I don’t like this anymore.
• It’s dragging me down and just frustrating.
And he starts out … remember he starts out with the “Death of the business” and then tells you how he hates the business. And then at the end of that post, at the end of that post, he leaves it with that line of, “I knew things had to change” and then leaves it with, “To be continued …”
So, I get cliffhangers in TV and in movies and series and all that. But that’s not real life, that’s Hollywood, that’s films, that’s TV, that’s something that isn’t affecting my livelihood, that isn’t affecting my clients, that isn’t affecting you—my customers and my community and The Entrepreneur’s Solution Nation.
And when I have someone that is a service provider to me, that in a sense to me is playing games and saying, “Hey! I’m not sure if I want to kill off my company but you know what, I’ll give you the answer later”.
That pisses me off. That bothers me. That’s totally irresponsible in the way they go. They shouldn’t, in my opinion, that’s not the way that this thing should play out.
Now, that was one day. A day or so later, he posted a second post on this. Now, in the meantime and I’m going to show you the response to this first post based on the postings from some of their customers and some of their non-customers and see the impact it had on the marketplace.
So the next post, he comes out and he says, “In fact, I have no idea how these initial series of posts would turn out for us. Was it business suicide?”
Now, I don’t know if it was business suicide. It’s certainly wasn’t going to promote business. It wasn’t going to promote the things that I think we need to promote as business owners—in our marketing, in our connection with our customers. I think it’s a complete violation of trust and it’s a complete erosion of the respect for the customer when we start to play these games.
“It may have been the nail in the coffin or the best decision we ever made.”
Maybe, maybe not.“
”So“, he says, ”So, what am I asking of you? Nothing! Watch us fail, watch us succeed, learn in the process.“
So, in effect what he is telling you he is going to do is, allow you to watch them try to do something with their business. What he really did in this process was to get … what he was trying to do is get you to
• Opt-in to a process,
• Opt-in to a blog,
• Opt-in to a series of communications based upon a restructuring of their business.
And I totally get that and you know what? Had he done that up-front and said, ”Here’s what we’re doing. We’re going to through we’re going through a re-structuring because we want to make it better for you the customer and I’d love for you to watch. I’d love to get your input. I’d love for you to learn in the process because we’re going to learn in the process“.
You know what? I’m on-board for that. I certainly think that that’s a great tool. I think it would have been of great value but the way they did it is they polarized this over a series of three posts over a week and allowed their customers to stew, to question:
• Where they were?
• What stability was there?
• What certainty was there? And
• Do I need to look for another provider?
And I think that that’s totally, totally off-base. That is the epitome of:
• Abusing your relationship,
• Abusing your authority,
• Abusing the connection and the pristine nature of a client-provider relationship.
That I think ought to be respected. I think that the customer, the client is the one that is bringing the business to you, that’s allowing you the opportunity and the responsibility to live as an entrepreneur. To give you the ability to live your dreams through entrepreneurship and that ought to be respected.
• You’re providing a service,
• You’re providing a solution, and
• Hopefully you’re providing aspiration in something greater for your customers.
So they can lift their business at a higher level.
Well, this is … Here’s what you learn. ”Each week, we’ll be sharing with you the key insight that we’ve learned along the way and the past lessons that we’ve already implemented, including …“ and he lists some things out which would have been wonderful in email or post number one. Not where I had to work a week to figure out whether I needed to find another service provider. This would be cool but not the way they did it—at least, not in my opinion.
Now, may be some people out there would say, "This was a really cool strategy—create a cliffhanger”. Yeah, create a cliffhanger but not
1. Where it’s going to affect, may affect my relationship with my customers and my ability to serve my customers at the highest level—to provide them an experience that is a Cadillac experience, a Rolls-Royce experience—something that we strive to do.
So, let’s look at what some of the responses were, because I think they’re telling. Here’s a response,
“This is a post that is being read by active clients who (in a small way or a big way) rely on your service currently. I am all open for and I’m all for open-ended loops and other copywriting magic but in this case leaving it with a to be continued doesn’t really serve your clients. If you’re folding up the business people need to know, so we can look for alternatives”.
I think this is an emotional manipulation of the client. I think it was totally, totally wrong in doing this. They go on, this is another post:
“I’m not even a customer.” Now get this, I was only a customer for a week, “but I don’t understand what the point of this … I don’t understand what was the point of this post. Are you planning to re-launch and transform it into something new? Simply close it down? I’m interested in the product but not if it’s closing down. Why is there a sign up form at the end? I really don’t get it.”
It was unclear and it was employed to get someone to sign up at the end.
Here’s a couple more.
“Okay, so you’re whole idea is to get everyone’s attention. I am sorry but I have a …”
Now this one really resonates with me.
“I am sorry but I had real business to run and need to have a partner who doesn’t waste my time. Absolutely, I will be moving my services from you. Thanks.”
I question how many like myself did they have that turned around and said, “I don’t want to do business with you. I will do business with people that have the same ethics, the same integrity and the same caring for their customers that I do for mine”
“This is marketing B.S. I’m looking for a new provider no matter what his secret message may be. Geez.”
Then the last one here is
“Cut the fluff and get to the point. People rely on you for their business. Stop toying with them. I’m not a customer and now reading this rubbish, glad I am not.”
I don’t know what was going through their head and why they thought it was a clever thing to do, to try and do this. But what they did is they polarized their own customer base.
Polarization in a marketplace is something that is done a lot and that is okay to attract the right types of customers. I’ve talked about it in prior posts and prior trainings—the concept of polarizing customers where there’s going to be customers out there that absolutely love what you do and there’s going to be customers that don’t.
The worst customer you have is someone that is indifferent. They don’t care one way or the other. I actually want customers that are just raving lunatics fans and if there’s a group of them that are raving lunatic whatever, they don’t want to do business with me, I get it. We’ve polarized the marketplace.
But I don’t want to take the people that are doing business with me—that are clients of me that came to me and said, “Here, I trust you and I’m giving you my money to do the work for me, so you can help me take care of my customers and my clients at a higher level”.
And then polarize them?
So, let’s talk about some of the lessons that I think can come out of this. This tale of what I … term is Irresponsible Marketing and how we look at this.
So, the first thing I want to kind of talk about is,
What’s marketing for? What’s the objective of marketing?
– Now some people would easily say well, the objective of marketing is to create sales.
I’m not sure I agree with that. I think that that the objective of marketing is to create relationships that will convert into sales. Sales is the by-product of the relationships that we create. So, when we look at this—let’s look at the five lessons that we can take from this. An example of what I think is a responsible marketing.
But first, let’s look at the objectives.
The objective, the first is to capture
Capture their attention. To capture the market’s attention just to sit up and take notice about:
• What it is you have to offer.
• The solution that you have for them.
• The difference it’ll make in their life.
Now, they certainly in there, in this campaign, if you will, got people to take notice but not from a positive way. And these were customers that have … they’re both customers and non-customers that cost them:
• The question,
• The judgment,
• The integrity, and
• The certainty of their services.
The second objective is to communicate.
To communicate with what I call empathy. Empathy marketing is to communicate with empathy, to communicate that you care about them. There’s nothing in this campaign, there’s nothing in this post that showed that they cared about the customers.
All they cared is about their little selfish game as far as I’m concerned, that they decided to play with the customers’ hearts, minds and business and I think it’s totally inappropriate. So, one of the objectives is to communicate with your customers, your clients and in-fact your team. I mean this affected a new employee where he got dumped on.
So, with your team:
• That you care about them,
• That you understand them,
• That you want to be connected with them,
• That you have compassion and empathy.
That’s what creates the deep seated loyalty.
And then once you do that, is to create a vehicle for them, a solution for them that doesn’t just solve the issue at hand but creates a bigger vision for them, that is aspirational in nature; that gets them to realize that this is going to transcend simply the solution. It’s what I call in some of my trainings the un-expected needs—to solve the un-expected needs of the client and the customer—so, we communicate that.
And then the fourth is to convey a low risk opportunity.
– A low risk entry point for them to do business with you to allow them in the process.
And then the last is to connect.
As I said, I think that we are in a place where we need to use empathy marketing where we are creating connections that are deeper than to the pocketbook and the issue at hand.
But to create a deep seated connection that is emotional in nature that gets them … gets your customers to say, “I’m bored” and say, “I’m with you. I’m with you because I believe in you, because you believe in me. Because you’ve taken care of me, you’ve over delivered. You’ve actually met my unexpected needs I didn’t even know at a level that is surpassing, remarkable and into the realm of excellence and really building that.”
So, the objective of marketing to me is these five things.
• To capture,
• To communicate,
• To create,
• To convey, and
• To connect.
And when I compare this little piece, if you will, to these, certainly captured the attention but in a negative way. They didn’t in my mind, communicate any kind of compassion, caring, empathy or any of that. They certainly didn’t create any kind of certainty or low risk opportunity. They’ve raised the perspective or the speculation of risk—in as far as that did.
They didn’t create a solution for me, because they didn’t have the solution that was going to last. And they did a whole lot to damage the connection with me and from reading some of the responses with the rest of their audience.
Yeah certainly there was a couple of responses that said, “Oh that was kind of a cool marketing ploy.” Well that’s exactly what it was. It was as ploy, it was a manipulation. It was a disrespect to the customers and the clients.
So what questions should we ask?
Here’s the five questions I think we need to ask when we decide that we’re going to go on a marketing campaign. Or when we’re going to post something out on a blog or we’re going to send something to customers or to the marketplace.
Here’s the five questions that I think we need to think about to make sure that we hit these five objectives.
So, the first question is this: Is it responsible?
Is what you’re planning to present, is what you’re planning to do responsible?
• Socially responsible
• Fiscally responsible
• Personally responsible
Or is it going to make someone feel wrong, feel bad, feel uncertain, feel uncomfortable, feel like they got to run. Is it ecological in that process? And if it’s not, fix it, don’t do it. I think we need to act responsibly. We need to take the responsible path for what it is we do.
Second: Is it caring and compassionate? Does it communicate caring and compassion?
Why do I want to do business with someone that doesn’t care and has no compassion?
That is just some institutional thing saying. I can go to get a robot. I can go to a vending machine because there’s no caring, there’s no compassion—put the money in and get the result out.
Does it communicate caring and compassion?
Remember, one of the issues, one of the challenges for business is
Your solution needs to be relatable, it needs to be relevant. In order for it to be relatable and relevant, there has to be caring and compassion there.
The third is – Is it respectful?
• Are you respecting the customers where they’re at?
• Are you respecting the clients where they’re at?
• Are you coming at it from a condescending perspective or disrespectful perspective?
• Or are you truly being respectful for what it is they bring to the table and where they are?
And if you’re not, once again, fix it, change it. You cannot put it out there. It’s got to come from a respectable place.
The fourth is: Does it build trust?
In this case as far as I’m concerned, this eroded trust. There was no trust built. If we’re going to connect with our marketplace:
• There’s got to be trust.
• There’s got to be respect.
Those are two of the biggest characteristics in any relationship whether it’s a personal relationship. Think about your personal relationships. When, and I’m sure that many of us have had it where the trust and the respect in the relationship got eroded and the relationship itself fell apart, unless we could re-build it which is not an easy thing to do.
So why take the risk of putting marketing out there, posts out there or doing anything out there that’s going to erode the respect and the trust of the relationship that it took so long and so much money to gain.
So, I want to make sure that everything that I do in the marketspace, in the marketplace is going to do that. To continue to escalate and elevate the respect that I have for my clients and they have for me. And the trust that we build within each other and through that process then, then we create a positive buzz.
The fifth is – Does what you’re doing create a positive buzz so people will talk about it?
This created a buzz but it wasn’t positive. People certainly talked about it, they got a response but it wasn’t a real response. We turn around and we say, “Oh, just kidding. We’re not going anywhere”.
Do we think that, that is the right way to treat our customers and say, “Got your attention!”
No, because that really pissed a lot of people off—they lost clients. I’m sure they lost; they eroded the trust and the respect from me. It’s not the way I do business and it’s not the way they’re going to get my business.
And I think that when we think about marketing, we need to think about it from the responsible side. What is marketing, what are the objectives that we’re trying to do?
• We’re trying to care for our customers.
• We’re trying to be a service provider.
Yes, we’ve been blessed with the opportunity to be an entrepreneur. We’ve been blessed with the possibilities that come with entrepreneurship. But we’ve also been saddled with the responsibilities. Along with opportunity and the ability to live those dreams, along with the opportunity and the ability to have the life by your own design, comes the responsibility to do it with respect and do it with trust.
You are a role model as an entrepreneur. You are … someone is looking to you as an example. Whether you know it or not, they’re looking to you as an example. They see you and they see how you live.
That my son drew that picture of me, many of you have seen the drawing from when he was six years old. But then he drew another one, he sent me another one when he was sixteen that said, “He didn’t tell me how to live. He simply lived and allowed me to watch.” And I think we need to think about that as good entrepreneurial citizens.
• What are we doing with people watching?
• What are we doing when we don’t think people are watching?
We don’t know who’s watching us.
• So we want to be responsible with our business.
• We want to be responsible with our actions.
• We want to be socially responsible.
• And we want to build relationships based on trust and respect.
And creating solutions that are meaningful, that come from
• Caring and compassion.
• And our marketing,
• Our approach to the audience,
• Our approach to our community,
• Our approach to the marketspace needs to come from that place also.
Otherwise, in time we will erode all of it and we will destroy our business because we’ve destroyed relationships and business is based on relationships.
I hope that this served you. I hope that you found this of value and I hope you take the five objectives and the five questions, and put them into your business, put them into the way you communicate with your marketplace. It will serve the marketplace.
It may take time to build relationships. Relationships, real good, deep-seated relationships take time but they’re worth it. They’re worth the energy. They’re worth the time because when you have a deep-seated mutual relationship, everyone wins.
So, I hope that this serves you. I look forward to seeing you in the next episode and until we get a chance to see each other again,
May your vision be grand, your journey epic and your legacy significant!
See you soon! Cheers!!
Oh wait, before you go, if you have questions for me or comments for me please go to AskMelNow.com. That’s AskMelNow.com. You’ll be able to leave me a voicemail right there that I can take and I can use that to answer your questions in one of the future episodes. We got some tremendous comments and questions on that question line, and you’ll be seeing some of those responses in some future episodes.
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See you in the next episode. Cheers!
— End Transcript —
Like this? Please share it and help a few more people bring their dreams out of the darkness and give life to them again. Cheers, Mel