A Marketing Misfire

misfireFlying from Denver to Cleveland last week, I got to see yet another shining example of corporate myopia. In this case, an utterly lame pitch by United Airlines.

I’d booked United to Cleveland for a workshop with Dan Kennedy (In case you’re wondering why Cleveland of all places).

As I shoehorned myself into the middle seat in the 35th row, the image of being just another sardine in a can came back to me. I guess flying Southwest, you get a little spoiled for space between seats…

While people are stuffing their bags in the overhead bins and stuffing themselves in seats, flight attendants are scurrying around like cowpokes coaxing the herd into the corral. I switched off the video screen on the seat in front of me about nine inches away from my nose.


So the plane “pushes off” from the terminal and the video screen flickers back on. The announcer in the video proudly tells me “United has been in business for 85 years….” I try to switch the screen off again, this time no luck.

Against heroic background music he tells me all about United’s history, as the first airline to carry for the USPS, and how they are expert in hauling cargo. Like pharmaceuticals, express packages. And live animals.

Gee, no wonder I feel like a chicken stuffed into a massive corporate assembly line chicken coop. I mention this to the lady sitting next to me and she cracks up. But it’s no joke. These guys are good at it. And proud of it, too.

So I ask you – why are they wasting their spiel about commercial hauling on ordinary citizens most of whom could care less? No, let’s irritate people who paid for their service not only with a commercial message, but one that is completely irrelevant! Gee, I wonder, does this have anything to do with why they are operating on razor thin margins?

You and I can’t afford to advertise that way. I mean, have you got a massive marketing budget to squander? As entrepreneurs, we absolutely need to not only target but carefully track and measure the round trip our marketing dollars take, out into the marketplace and back again, hopefully with a bunch of new captives.

So how often do you have a “marketing misfire”? A message that your target customer responds to with a shrug or a scowl? Those marketing dollars got sent out, never to return. Unless of course you are take what you learned and turn it into a campaign that produces profits.

To avoid waste and improve accuracy, it helps to be base your message on the stage your customers go through in a buying decision. At each stage they are…

  • Unaware of the problem
  • Aware of the problem, unaware of solution
  • Interested – Exploring possibilities
  • Searching – Seeking a specific solution
  • Ready to Buy – Seeking a provider
  • Just Bought – Most open to “What else do you have?”
  • Enjoying the Solution – Happy to share, send Referrals

Look at how your content addresses each of these stages. Check your numbers – how well does the message convert?

For example, compare Google ads in the search network to ads in the content network. The content network is where ads show up in articles, blog posts etc. Search ads appear when you run a search. Content ads target people in stage 1-2, while a search ad targets stages 3-5.

If you are not checking your numbers at each of these stages on a consistent basis, you are missing opportunities at best. At worst, you are losing money.

Target, track and refocus to sharpen your aim and minimize misfires. You will get more leads, convert more of them and keep more of them happily in your corner.

Good profiting!