skip to main content

Looking for the shortcut to really bad marketing? Do this.

divider image for this post

I sat at my desk, alone. It was 9:30am. Wandering through the cluttered refrigerator of thought, I artfully dodged rogue tweets vainly attempting to derail my near perfect mental state. In an instant, however, the fact I had long feared quickly hedged my journey: I didn’t have anything to write about for next Thursday’s post.

Then, like a golden ray of sunshine on a flat-light powder day, my inbox was graced with this fresh breath of spammy air.

“Hi Gregg, I’m Soandso from ABC Inc. I emailed you recently but didn’t hear back so I hope you don’t mind that I’m trying again. To help us get the word out about our current discounts…”

It seemed…familiar. Like a reflection…a faint memory from another life struggling for breath. Or an email I received 12 days before.

“Hi Gregg, I’m Soandso from ABC Inc. To help us get the word out about our current discounts…”

My reply was short: I hope you’re not paid on commission, because marketing ain’t about you…it’s about me.

The “Me” Arrows
Humans are interesting creatures. When something major happens, we unite like the plot from a carefully crafted script. The arrows that represent our actions and desires quickly point away from ourselves and toward others. It’s amazing and heartening to watch.

Unfortunately, most of the time those arrows are tightly clustered and aimed directly at ourselves. That’s how it had to be, right? It’s hard to survive if you are constantly killing wild beasts with a club and giving it to the guy nextcave.

So here we are in a complex society fending for our daily bread, house, car, family, dog, cat, job and free time. Our thoughts are constantly focused on making that circle better, more comfortable, happier. We instinctively filter out things that can’t help us in our quest.

The Test
So along comes Joe Marketer with his carefully crafted message. He wants us to listen, but, like the email that spurred this post, makes the mistake of all marketing mistakes: he talks only about himself.

“Company ABC is a software company that creates products for the health care industry. We’ve been in business for 20 years and have 100 years of combined experience. Our mission is to make software that minimizes server downtime.”

How often do we see copy like that? Does that break through the “me” bubble? The answer is yes, but not as often as when you flip the script and stop talking solely about ourselves.

“You can’t afford server downtime at a health care company. It can be fatal to your customers. You’ve likely experienced downtime of 1% in the past. Our software saves you 30 gray hairs a month by guaranteeing 99.99% uptime on your servers.”

Do you have to talk about yourself? Of course. It’s not that “we”, “us” and “our” are bad words, they just can’t be the focus.

Good Ol’ Sam
Even the meme before memes of Uncle Sam illustrated this. The sentence starts with “I”, but the subject is, without a doubt, “you”.

Remember, if you’re going to market to me, talk about me.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

Get the weekly digest.

New stories, ideas, and jobs delivered to your inbox every Friday morning.