Why I'll always suck at marketing

08 Mar 2017

Regular readers of this blog will know that marketing is far from my strong suit. In fact, my inability to get marketing is a regular theme on these pages, as I often feel it’s holding me back.

I’ve tried working with marketers, but it never seems to pan out, and I think I’ve finally realised why:

I suck at marketing, because I hate being marketed to

This realisation came while working with a marketer recently. Knowing that my marketing game is super weak, I gave him free reign to do whatever he thought best. He started by manually finding and emailing potential BugMuncher customers, but then I noticed he was sending follow up emails to anyone that hadn’t replied.

This, as I’m sure you’ll know, is standard practice, so I don’t blame him for doing it. The problem is I fucking hate it when I get a follow up to cold email.

If I don’t respond to the first email, it means I’m not interested, take the hint. In fact, if I ever receive two or more follow ups to an unsolicited email, I hit the spam button.

We stopped the email campaign not long after that, as it was too time consuming to find and email contacts, and it had led to no new sign ups. I suspect the lack of sign ups was my fault - had I not stopped the follow up emails, the campaign would have probably seen some success. After all, it seems to work for all the other companies doing it.

However, I’ll never engage in a marketing technique if I wouldn’t be happy to be on its receiving end, no matter how proven or successful that technique may be. That probably seems reasonable, except I hate to be on the receiving end of pretty much any marketing.

TV adverts are some of the worst, frequently triggering my bullshit detector, and we have pretty strict advertising standards here in the UK.

For example, TV ads for a certain battery manufacturer always involve comparing their alkaline batteries to other brand’s zinc batteries. Of course alkaline batteries last longer than zinc batteries, that’s just science, it’s got nothing to do with what name is written on the side of the battery.

But then that ad isn’t aimed at me, it’s aimed at people who don’t know about the difference between alkaline and zinc batteries, and will end up believing the advertiser’s batteries are better than all of their competition’s alkaline batteries. Which is bullshit.

Another thing I often see is the use of multiple qualifiers, like a weight loss product that says “you could loose up to 30% more weight” with their product. The ‘up to 30%’ qualifier means it could also be 15%, or 0%. And the ‘could’ qualifier means even that isn’t guaranteed, ie: you could also gain weight. More bullshit.

Maybe I’m overly critical, and I know I’m overly analytical, but I really do hate the vast majority of marketing I see, and I certainly don’t want to inflict that upon anyone else.

A lot of what I do with BugMuncher goes against conventional wisdom, simply because I refuse to lie, or do anything that annoys me when other companies do it.

For example, conventional pricing wisdom says put a “most popular” label on your middle pricing plan, as that’s the one you want most people to sign up to. But BugMuncher’s middle plan is not currently the most popular, so to add that label would be a lie.

It’s also why I don’t require credit card details for free trials, I really hate when other companies do that, I feel like they’re hoping that I’ll forget to cancel if I don’t want to continue after the ‘free’ trial, and end up paying by accident.

I got this far and achieved profitability without any real marketing plan, and it’s been an awesome journey. Maybe I would have arrived quicker with some decent marketing, but as I’ve recently realised, I’m always going to suck at marketing, and I’ve made piece with that.

- Matt

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