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How not to do marketing – exhibit 1


Marketing is simple in principle: deliver your message to an audience that wants or needs to hear it via a channel they pay attention to and in timely manner.

OK, there’s also engagement to think about but these core principles pretty much underpin that too. So, this week’s blog focuses on the first of a couple of cracking examples of organisations getting it wrong.

Exhibit 1

Here is a letter from my MP in response to my enjoining him to support the FairFuel campaign last month via an organised email campaign.

First up, in spite of my repeatedly stated preference for email correspondence, it is a letter. Sent through the mail, wasting paper and taxpayer money.

Second, the letter does not directly address the questions asked – missing the point of me contacting him in the first place.  It does contain a caveat sentence which explains that because so many constituents contacted the MP about this issue, the letter contained only a generic response.

Thirdly, the response they did send talked about a) how things were much better than under the last government and b) how some actions that this government has taken in the past have made this issue a bit less damaging than it could have been.  It contains a reiteration of an idea (the fuel stabilizer) which has been an idea for several years now but that hasn’t, to my knowledge, turned into action.

Therefore not a lot on what is or will actually be done moving forwards.

Taking the political aspect out of the equation, what has this piece of communication actually done?

  • Didn’t follow audience communications preferences
  • Wasted time and money as a result
  • Didn’t address any of the points made that are important to the audience
  • Didn’t make the audience feel that the organisation cared at all about their views and proffered a standard response
  • Didn’t take any responsibility for the issue at hand and in fact blamed others
  • Didn’t suggest any actions or even an unrealised plan of actions moving forward.  So no call to action for the audience and no accountability (or so they believe) from the organisation’s side
  • Didn’t really focus on positive outcomes in terms of how things will be better for the target audience as a result of their intervention.

For any of you tasked with writing communications to your target audiences, what would you key customers, volunteers or donors do if you adopted this approach?

More examples to follow next time but do please share your thoughts and horror stories.

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