Beware the Marketing Leprechaun

I could probably write 50 blog posts on marketing challenges alone, but for this post, I am thinking about the danger of businesses seeking budget-friendly marketing solutions - and FAME - and how frugality can lead them to trusting the sneaky marketing leprechaun.

Ever seen one of these at the end of a rainbow? No? Well, I support a number of organizations as a marketing representative, and while I never manage to find them at the end of a rainbow, I do see them more than you’d expect hanging out in meetings and at non-profit brainstorming sessions. I usually notice them coming in wearing their green top hat and sharp suit…and fancy marketing lies.

Ever since I started in PR (nearly 30 years ago), I’ve encountered countless glittery big-talkers who claimed to ‘know’ marketing and PR. Let’s face it: It’s SEXY, just like a pot of gold. And that empty claim has worsened with the introduction and growth of social media. EEEEVVVERYBODY knows marketing/PR…how to do it best, and how to make you famous. What’s even more fascinating is that people with absolutely no marketing knowledge will spout off about it in meetings where actual marketing professionals are literally sitting around the table.

It’s scary - and even weirder - that others in the room shake their heads in agreement. If they hear ‘NBC,’ or ‘press release’ uttered from the inexperienced guru (particularly in a Scottish accent!), they start salivating and murmuring ‘yyyyeeesss!’ with the pent-up energy of a child on Christmas Eve. Pant, pant, pant…”where’s the gold, you say?”

All too often, what I notice is that the ideas and strategies being tossed around are basic, if not archaic. People presume that it’s easy to ‘call a buddy at CBS,’ and have no idea that a terribly-written release can be as detrimental as walking into a party with dog poo on your shoe. No one will say much, but people slowly move away.

So, all this is to say that ‘buyer beware.’ Think about who you’re asking to oversee your marketing and PR efforts, and even if you have a small budget, make an effort to place your trust in someone who has extensive experience, and spend your money wisely. When chatting with a person about what you need, here are some statements that should throw red flags for you:

“This would be super easy…everyone’s gonna LOVE this. We could even hand out cool pens with our logo on them. Everyone wants a take-away!”

Read:  First it’s never true that ‘everyone’s going to love’ something. Second, because MONEY. Anytime you’re considering purchasing promotional items, you are looking at a spend…for items that your customers will likely throw away. This used to be a common endeavor – to hand out ‘SWAG’. Now, it’s seen as a cheesy approach to get your logo in front of someone.

“CBS has a great promotional piece that would be perfect for this, and I know they’d love to include you. It would give us fantastic exposure.”

Read:  Be wary of the word ‘promotional.’ Television stations - any medium - is clever about selling their advertising (think of those sly sections in a magazine that look like articles until you see the word in small font in the top left that says ‘Advertisement) in order to survive. Again, MONEY: Paid promotional opportunities (obviously) cost, and are simply seen as promotional opportunities, and have been for a long time. In fact, they’ve been out of fashion for so long that I’m amazed the concept still comes up in meetings, but it does. Not only would you be spending money on this, but your clients and supporters see it as an outdated idea. In their eyes, this could come across as a real lack of awareness and savvy…which doesn’t inspire giving and support.

“We’ll get a press release out on that right away, and get some exposure in ‘traditional media.”

Read:  This is an empty promise. I just don’t know why people salivate at the idea of a press release…it’s not as if a press release guarantees coverage, and typically, when people are throwing around the idea of a release, it’s about something that isn’t worthy of a press release in the first place. If a person is presenting this to you/your group, be sure to consider whether or not it’s part of a bigger strategy, if this person has strong editorial contacts, and if your announcement truly is newsworthy.

If you have a solid cause, and a growing reputation, then that will prove positive in your marketing endeavors. Your organization and your endeavors should be the story, not the pot of gold being promised to give you the exposure. If that’s the case, then you will get attention and your marketing should simply amplify your story. Don’t trust that marketing leprechaun who might be looking to sell you down the river.