Today’s story is about my son’s birthday. I believe that it’s a very interesting story about marketing gone wrong. There is a valuable lesson in it for you, I promise.
Actually, you might not agree with me, when it comes to my conclusion. If you don’t agree, please leave a comment and let’s discuss it.
Who am I kidding, I am sure you are going to agree with me on this. I am talking about the attack from a bank. We’ve all experienced this, am I right?
I want to start out with a brilliant quote from Seth Godin that sort of represents the story I am about to share with you;
“Finding new ways, more clever ways to interrupt people doesn’t work.”
This quote is simple, yet powerful. It tells it like it is. If we’re interrupting, no matter how, it doesn’t work.
I am talking about permission marketing, but let’s face it, most of us don’t know what permission is.
Let me give you an example.
Remember, this was my son’s birthday, and a story about a local bank, a bank that are looking for success in all the wrong places.
There are at least two common mistakes that people make when it comes to marketing.
1. Marketing is all about attention
It’s way too easy to get attention, in order for it to be a very important part of marketing. Attention is at best a short term goal. It will never be anything more than a short term solution.
2. Marketing is all about being targeted and relevant
You can be as targeted and relevant as you want, but still you might not get a single sale. The reason is fairly simple, and kind of obvious if you think about it.
You can get as much attention as you want, and your marketing efforts can be targeting the right people and it can be as relevant as you’d like, but if you have no prior relations or trust among the people you are reaching out to, you will experience problems no matter what you’re selling.
Marketing is more about creating trust and building relations.
Never try too hard
Again, it was my son’s birthday, he turned 5 years old. The local bank did what they had done on all his and his sister’s birthdays. They sent a letter with a birthday card and a balloon and a pencil. They do this every single year. They’re building a relationship with my kids. That’s ok. They are targeting kids, but at least they are doing something right.
Next to the envelope with the birthday card was another envelope addressed to the parents of my son. It wasn’t addressed to me or my wife, but to the parents. This made me curious. I opened it as soon as my son had opened his birthday card and started blowing up the balloon.
I thought it was a letter, but it was a flyer with the following headline (translated from Norwegian):
Take care of your most valuable assets
The flyer had a picture of a girl, sitting on the grass, playing with a cat. It was an advertisement for child insurance.
Why is this marketing gone wrong?
I believe that the problem started when the people at the bank asked the following question;
How can we benefit from the situation?
I believe that we should never ask this question. If we do, whatever answer we come up with is short term at best.
The reason they sent the flyer is obvious. If there is one day of the year when parents think more about their kids than on any other day, it’s on their birthdays. We think about how much we love them, that it’s unthinkable to live without them, how precious they are, and how vulnerable they are.
Sending a flyer with an advertisement for child insurance on their birthday sounds like a brilliant idea. It’s targeted and relevant, and they certainly got my attention. But there’s one thing missing, and that’s the most important part of marketing.
They didn’t have my permission.
I didn’t want the flyer, and especially on the birthday of my son. To me that’s a day when all we do is celebrate. I don’t want to think about all the bad things that can happen – especially not on that particular day.
Their short term goal destroyed some of the trust, and it certainly didn’t help building a relationship.