Obviously we all want our marketing efforts to have a positive effect, and bring in more business. We should always consider the potential negative impact, too.
A simple example. There’s a company that continues to fax me, offering a service that I don’t need, despite me asking them to remove me from their fax mailing list. Their spam faxes somehow annoy me more than spam email does, perhaps because they’re repeated too frequently and they’re using my expensive printer ink to print their unwanted message.
Now, although I don’t need their service, I know quite a few people who might. But I’m a cussed sort, and if anyone asks me if I know of anyone that can provide this particular service, I’ll go out of my way to suggest an alternative. Their marketing has had a clear negative effect with me, and possibly with others.
Did they think about how they could execute their marketing in such a way as to avoid or minimise the harm? They could have included a simple fax back section in their fax, so that I could be taken off their database forever.
I might not have become their customer, but at least I wouldn’t have become their enemy.
Or another example. A company I know conducted a direct mail campaign where the mailer had an interesting object attached to it that went with the quirky copy. Although it looked good when you opened the envelope, before you opened it, the envelope with a strange lump in it was unusual. Unusual enough to be suspected to be a bomb.
That’s going to leave a lasting negative impression with some recipients that may lead to business being diverted away – but the campaign could have been designed differently to avoid this potential negative effect.
It’s easy to assume that if a particular campaign didn’t work for you, then you missed out on a positive effect. But don’t assume that the effect was neutral. Better to design the campaign to accentuate the positive and avoid the negative.
What do you do, as you plan your marketing campaigns, to check for the potential to damage your image and reputation? How do you avoid negative marketing? Let me know in the comments.