Weirdly Bad Marketing

I was sitting here this evening at my desk thinking about what exactly I could write about and while there were a couple topics bouncing around my head, there really wasn’t anything jumping out at me.  When I write these emails, the process usually revolves around me getting a germ of an idea and then thinking about a story to weave around that thought to expand and make it coherent.

Tonight I was struggling.  I was looking around, playing with things on my desk and I picked up this thing that my furniture movers gave me a couple weeks ago.

As you’ll recall, I moved house back in the third week of June and as the removalist was thanking me for my business and getting ready to leave, he handed me what I thought was a business card.  We shook hands, he left, I stuck the card in my pocket and I went about figuring out how to cut my bed frame in half to get it up the stairs.  At some point,  I must have dropped the card on my desk in our home office.

So while I’m struggling to come up with an email idea, I’ve picked up this card and I realise that it is in fact not your standard business card, it is a fridge magnet in the shape of a business card.

The fridge magnet has 1/3rd on the left side dedicated to their contact details and the other 2/3rds talking about their “VIP PLATINUM MEMBERSHIP”.  I kid you not, the caps are theirs not mine and it lists a bunch of features in bullet form like unlimited mattress wrapping, unlimited free boxes, bubble wrap bundles and a bunch of other things.

That’s when the absurdity of this marketing effort actually donned on me.

Let’s put this out there straight away, the guy gave it to me immediately after completing the task of moving my furniture into my new place.  I’m not going to be moving again anytime soon, so I’m not sure what the point of giving this thing to me was.  They did a good job, but it wasn’t earth-shattering where I thought, “I’m going to need to keep their details on file so that the next time I move in five or more years, I’ll call them back.”

I mean literally, I had Man and his Van boxes with their phone number on them in my house with stuff in them and I didn’t even call them to quote on moving our furniture.

Then there’s the idea of it being a fridge magnet.  I get it, someone in the 70’s and 80’s thought it would be a good idea for plumbers and removalists to give you fridge magnets so you could pin your pizza and Chinese takeaway menus to the fridge, but those days are long gone.  We have this thing now called the internet the fridge is no longer needed to be a pinboard, it had reverted back to its primary function of keeping our food cold and frozen.

Even funnier, I found them on the internet.  I searched, their site came up at or near the top of the results and when I saw their prices I sent them a request for quotation off their website.  They sent me an email with the quote and when I agreed, they called me to get my deposit.  At no time did a fridge magnet come into play.

Then there’s the VIP Membership.  This is the one that makes me laugh.  Does anybody really join a continuity membership program for a furniture removal company?  I can’t work out what the demand for this would be.  All of the “benefits” are things that they offer you just for booking a move anyway, so why should I join their program.

It was mystifying and totally weird at the same time.  This company is giving out these marketing relics to people AFTER they’ve used the service talking about a membership program that serves no purpose, but at the same time in a highly competitive commercial keyword area they are ranking like crazy from an SEO perspective and their automated quotation process is very strong.

It was just entirely incongruent.

In the online world, you see weird marketing things all the time.  To be totally truthful, over the years I’ve almost seen as much weird marketing online as I have offline.  For every weird Ginsu knife ad where someone is cutting a can in half, I’ve probably seen someone do something equally odd online.

Last week I was looking at a site for one of our SEO clients.  This site was a competitor’s site and it is in a very family friendly, wholesome market category.  The audience skews much older in age and much more female – think older aunties and grandmothers.  The ads on the site though were all for hardcore survivalist stuff and there was one ad spot running Traffic Junky ads which are, shall we say, not really aimed at that demographic, they are much racier.

That’s not really effective marketing or advertising plus it reflects badly on the site where the ads appear.

The weirdest one that I got was from a guy back in 2010 who was doing a product launch and he was trying to score affiliate partners.  One day I got a package in the post and when I opened it there was a letter, a handheld mirror and a packet of q-tips.  The letter said something to the effect of, “Look at yourself, you’re leaving money on the table so clean out your ears because I’ve got something to tell you.”

I wouldn’t have known this fella if I tripped over him and while he got my attention for his launch, it was so weird I laughed at it and tossed it away.  I certainly never promoted his product.

When it comes to your marketing, it’s a balancing act – you have to make sure it’s memorable, but not so unusual that it makes people think you’re odd or so entirely ineffectual that it’s pointless.  The key is to aim for congruence and practicality because it will resonate with the widest array of people and for your target market it will keep you front of mind.

But if you really get stuck and can’t think of anything, then throw caution to the wind and get some business card fridge magnets made up and send those out to people who have no need for your products or services – I’m told that works like a champion.

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