Don’t Just Talk the Talk in Online Marketing

This article is part of the 7 Deadly Sins of Relationship-Based Marketing series. In the series, we’ll chronicle different online behaviors and practices that can ruin your business relationships. Some are subtle, and some not so much. If the success of your business relies on maintaining healthy relationships with current clients, prospects, or a network of referrers, it could be time you start repenting.

The path to hell is paved with good intentions, right? That expression may seem a little extreme, especially if you’ve come here seeking marketing advice. However, there’s some very real truth to it.

It’s become a noisy world, with businesses competing for attention in nearly every channel imaginable. And with all the clamoring of each voice striving to be the loudest, you can see companies making the egregious mistake of saying anything to get customers to notice them. Even if it means they’re not being totally honest with their audiences.

This is a reminder that what you say does matter. Especially if it’s wildly different from what you are actually doing.

In online marketing; don’t just say what you do—do what you say

Here’s a tale about a company that recently failed to practice what it preaches:

A few months ago, I was in the market for new windows. I called around to several companies to get quotes, and most sent a salesperson to my home to count windows, answer questions, and discuss pricing and product options with me.

But one of these companies—we’ll call it Window Company C—was different. It had the loudest and proudest online marketing I’d seen so far, promising the easiest, most personalized customer experience and the most knowledgeable and helpful staff.

When I called to schedule an appointment for a quote, the owner (he made sure to remind me several times that he was the owner) answered the phone. We’ll call him Dan Windows. He didn’t offer to send a salesperson out to assist me, he instead insisted that I walk around the outside of my house and describe the size and nature of each window to him. Not only did this feel unpleasantly like a doctor trying to diagnose a health condition over the phone, it made me feel guilty about not knowing the difference between each type of window.

The whole affair left a bad taste in my mouth—especially considering that the “About” section on the company’s website read, “Window Company C was founded by Mr. Dan Windows on the simple idea that buying windows should be easy.”

After I’d essentially done all the work for him, he quoted me an outrageous price and promised that I’d receive a “helpful” packet in the mail.

Here’s the kicker: A few days later I went to the mailbox and pulled out a large packet from Window Company C. What I found inside was far from helpful. It was a 30-page book titled “30 Reasons Not to Buy Windows from Window Company C.” Inside the book, each page had one watermarked sentence that simply read “Not a reason.”

That’s 30 wasted opportunities to tell customers why they should buy from Window Company C. And it was arrogant. And it certainly wasn’t “helpful.” Now, I can appreciate a clever marketing joke as well as the next person, but this?

This is a prime example of a business owner who got so wrapped up in shiny marketing tactics that his messaging became misleading. While Window Company C is busy pumping money into online marketing ads and direct-mailing useless piles of paper, it’s failing to deliver exactly what it promises: an easy window-purchasing experience for its customers.

In contrast, I actually did have an easy experience with the other three companies I called—imagine that.

Create good first impressions for your business relationships

If you’re a business owner, you know all too well the countless hours, care, and work you’ve invested in your business. In fact, your reason for starting your business is probably a direct extension of your personal beliefs and values—making it all the more important that you fight tooth and nail to uphold your company’s integrity. The grace with which you manage your customer and other important business relationships can be a prominent illustration of that integrity—and, it can be the first thing prospects notice.

You might be feeling immense pressure to buy into the latest marketing trend. A lot of clients come to us with questions about content marketing (likely because of its buzzword status)—and our best advice to them is that it’s not as simple as just “putting some content out there.” You have to be considerate and honest with your marketing; otherwise, you’ll run the risk of making promises you can’t keep.

If you’re running an outbound marketing strategy, it might behoove you to take a nice long look at exactly what it is you’re “outbounding.” And if you’re still not sure if your company’s message is aligned properly with the service it offers, we’ll give you a second opinion.