It happens about the same time every year.
We all get a barrage of emails and see a tsunami of ads, blog posts, and offers for a certain program that starts with a B.
Affiliate marketers — even people we trusted! — were hawking their bonuses left and right, and relentlessly reminding us to registerregisterregister.
It gotten so bad that people unsubscribed from lists faster than you could say, finger-lickin’ good.
And it’s not so much the marketer or her program that people didn’t like — it was the constant barrage of ads, emails and social media posts flung at us from every direction. Yep, it’s a perfect example of marketing that’s been over-done and over-cooked. I’ve seen this happen more often than I’d like — and not just with emails and social media. In the pre-Mr. Perfect days, I used to watch all my TV shows via Hulu. And one of the things that used to bug the holy hell out of me was that they’d fill all the ad time with the same freakin’ ad. One in particular featured someone I really admire, yet eventually got me to hate that someone (and the product he was hawking). Maybe you remember this one, too?
For whatever reason, this ad seemed to be the only one filling time with the shows I watched and it got so bad, that I eventually wrote a ranty-rant email to Hulu, Blackberry and the various shows that were sponsored by it.
Most of us have the Opposite Problem: Under-exposure
There’s a lot of noise out there and it can be hard to get noticed in a meaningful way. It’s called the Marketing Rule of 7, not the Marketing Rule of 777. And even when you follow it, people can still miss your offers. That doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind and try to beat your prospects over the head with your message. You can (if you’re not careful) stumble into the trap of over-exposure — even if you’re not an A-Lister with a big following and a huge list of affiliates. How? I’m glad you asked…
Tips to Keep from Annoying Your Friends, Fans or Audience
1. Put your social media updates on “time-release.” Depending on the platform (e.g., Twitter is different from Facebook is different from Pinterest), you’ll need more or less breathing room and white space between each post. There’s nothing more annoying than going to Pinterest only to see that so-and-so has pinned 75 things in a freakin’ row. Yes, your mandalas are beautiful. But guess what? I don’t need to see all 75 of them at once. Ever see your Twitter stream fill up with a slew of RTs? Yeah. Leave some room for the rest of us to say something. Nobody wants to hear or see everything cool thing you’ve found online in the last 24 hours — at least not all at once. If you’re one of those “heavy sharers” consider using the Buffer app to collect all that tasty goodness and then drip it out over time. If you do it that way, I promise you’ll have a better chance of reaching more people (which is really what you want, right?).
2. Talk about yourself less, your audience more. You’ve heard this before, but I’m saying it again because I keep seeing people (even A-listers!) do this. It’s okay to toot your own horn. In fact, most of you need to do that more often. But try to remember that for every one thing you share about yourself, you should share at least two things about others. More, if possible. What are the folks in your target audience doing that’s awesome? Is there a cool tool or resource they might find helpful (that you have nothing to do with other than you lucked out and stumbled across it)? How can you shine the light on them? It’s really not so hard if you stop to think about it.
3. Remember, “All things in moderation.” Too many inspirational quotes are just as bad as too much ranting. You’re a multi-faceted person, so make an effort to show us a different side of yourself. You also don’t need to friend everyone who crosses your path (or accept every friend request), put your status updates in ALL CAPS EVERY SINGLE TIME, or keep our news streams full of cute baby animals…
4. Help your affiliates tell a better story. Enlisting the help of colleagues and former clients in your marketing efforts is a smart thing to do. And it’s become sort of expected that you’d provide them with some pre-written copy for emails and social media updates. Unfortunately, many of us are following the same people and on the same lists. Which means that snappy copy you wrote often comes across as disingenuous — especially when we see the 4th person that week sending the same freakin’ email. A better option is to give your affiliates some writing prompts — questions to help them write their own authentic copy.
I’m not a fan of “swipe copy” for affiliate marketing campaigns. So I’m using writing prompts for the 2 launches I’m working on right now. — Tara Gentile (@taragentile) January 8, 2013
5. Avoid questionable marketing tactics. There’s quite a lot of advice out there about how to use psychological “tricks” and “triggers” to market your product or service. It’s good to be aware of these things. But using some of them is another matter. Examples: Scarcity — when it’s honest — is something you should include in your marketing messages. But people can see through things like “we’ve only got 10 copies of this digital program available.” And yes, you need to understand your prospect’s fears and pains — so you can speak to them intelligently, not so you can scare the holy crap out of them. Remember when a certain US president enacted the color alerts system for our security? It was an attempt to use fear to keep people fearful — so he could carry on with his agenda under the guise of national security (in my opinion). Whether or not you agree with my perspective, you probably saw that it wasn’t long before people started tuning that whole thing out. Fear works — in the short term. It’s not a long-term strategy that anyone needs to use. And remember, your prospects are smart. They can also see through euphemisms. A discount on something is not a gift. And it’s especially annoying to receive this kind of “gift” on the marketer’s birthday or anniversary (“It’s my birthday so I want you to have 25% off my product”). Remember, anything with strings attached isn’t a true gift, so don’t call it that.
6. Change up your ads every now and then. Tell your marketing story in a different way, from a new angle. Repetition is good to a point — but usually after seeing something two or three times, your audience is ready for something fresh. Depending on the channel (email vs. social media vs. blog, etc.) that story will need to vary a different amount — from day to day or from quarter to quarter, for example. Don’t get me wrong: It’s good to focus on one message. But see if you can reinforce that message using another perspective from time to time.
My Point (and I Do have One)
Be honest. Be generous. Pay attention. And don’t over-do anything. Most of us trip up when we try too hard to get noticed. It’s okay to relax your strangle-hold on wanting to succeed and slow down your efforts a bit. Promise.
What did I miss? Is there something you’ve seen or heard that made you cringe? Share with us in the comments!