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10 Things Non-marketers Hate about Marketing

My husband likes to tease me about being a Marketer. It goes something like this. We're watching Hulu and a screen flashes up requiring you to decide which commercial you want to see before you can get back to your program. And then he looks directly at me and mutters : "G*dd@mn marketers!" Of course with all the love and affection in the world.

Now that Thanksgiving is over and the holiday shopping season is officially here, we are bombarded on all sides with ads and discounts designed to get us to do one thing, open our wallets and buy. As a life-long student of Marketing, I love hearing the perspective of non-marketers on the tactics Marketers use because we need to listen to the consumer in order to practice our craft at its best.

Recently I put the question out on LinkedIn and asked all my non-marketing friends to share the things that marketers do that drive them nuts. Here's what they said.

#1 Ads before videos

If we want to watch videos on YouTube, we don't want to have to watch your video ad first. Attention spans are short, and in the era of TikTok, if you can't capture our interest in 5 seconds, we're going to be irritated and tune out. This means the length of the elevator pitch has been dramatically shortened.

#2 Commercials

This is along the same lines as ads before videos. While commercials off-set the coset of TV and streaming platforms, too often they are boring or irrelevant. Today's consumer is highly sophisticated and bombarded with media inputs. This means Marketers need to step up their game to ensure that commercials land successfully.

#3 Hidden fees

Consumers want pricing transparency. We're looking right at you, Spirit Airlines. Sure the flight is only $25 (one way) but then you add on all the hidden fees and extras, and you might as well be traveling a major airline. Don't bait and switch us into buying your product. Give us all the facts, including the real price, and then we can decide if we want to make the purchase or not.

#4 Selective discounting

It's common for companies to offer discounts to incentivize new customers, but what about those who have left and want to return? Often the discount is not available to them. This selective discounting practice can really backfire because it sends the message that the only consumers who matter are new customers and returning business is of little interest.

#5 Contacting us after we've said no

We can all appreciate persistence. But there is a line between persevering and stalking. If we have told you to take a hike because we are not interested, then please take us seriously. And that includes emailing. If we've unsubscribed from your email marketing and we continue to receive emails, now you are just going to piss us off. Oh, and that's illegal, by the way.

#6 Pop-up ads on order tracking pages

Think through the user experience before deciding where pop-up ads get triggered on your website. If we're trying to track a package, for the love of God, we are not there looking to buy more stuff from you. We're checking when we will get the item we already purchased. This is where getting into the mind of your customer can make a huge difference.

#7 Offering discounts that don't apply broadly

This one is the corollary to #4. Don't be a tease and offer us a discount that we can't use on most of your products. It's disingenuous and leads to abandoned shopping carts with puffs of disgust billowing overhead. Remember, a discount is designed to incentive purchase, but if it can only be used every third Tuesday when it's raining, we are likely to get frustrated and find another vendor.

#8 Gating too much thought leadership content

There was a time not too long ago, especially in the B2B world, where all thought leadership content was gated, but those days are over. With the amount of information now freely available on the internet, it's important for Marketers to really consider whether the asset being offered is worth the exchange of contact details. This type of gating is usually done via a form. The reality is we can probably get that same info from your competitor without providing a fake email address. Consider yourself warned!

#9 Overly contrived taglines

Last summer, fast food chain Popeyes came out with chicken nuggets and the tagline "We come in piece." It's definitely clever, but maybe also a little too contrived. There is a balance between being cute and being trite. We can't tell you exactly how to strike that balance, but get some outside perspectives before you go with a tagline like "What can brown do for you?" (we're looking at you, UPS).

#10 Harmful stereotypes

Humor is a great tool for Marketing, but it can easily cross the line into harmful stereotypes, like the idiot husband or the angsty teen. We may cringe at ads from the '50s that treated women like children, but it still goes on today. Remember BIC's tone deaf Women's Day ad? And that is why companies, like Always, who seek to shatter stereotypes, get a big thumbs up from us!


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