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Are you qualified to poke fun at other businesses?

June 30, 2015

marketing business mistakes

This marketing business can be more art than science on occasion. It can be easy to make a mistake. But not so easy to forgive them.

We’ve all done it. That quiet little chuckle you have at another business’ expense. The eye-rolling comments you’ve talked about later with other business people you know.

The moments of implosion and explosion found on social media where you’ve felt the need to say something about another business as they appear not to know their muffins from their muff (as in the hand warming fashion thing- don’t be rude!).

But when are you qualified to poke fun at someone else’s mistakes? And what alternatives do you have to getting on the marketing business high horse?

These two interesting questions have rattled around in my brain of late. I’ve come across some instances where I’ve thought the situation was (to be frank) borderline unprofessional.

Here are the moments I have encountered of late and a little lesson for us all.

The social media rant on a fan page

We’ve all heard the advice about business marketing and a hot temper not mixing. But what if you’re being person you opposed to your business when venting your own social media steam?

Recently, Woolworths did a refresh of their website and app. It made things harder to use. As a time poor shopper, I was super annoyed at my shopping taking 3 times the amount of time it usually takes.

And I had no qualms about sharing this feedback on social media.

Of course, News Limited thinks quoting people from what they say on social media and pretending like they’ve spoken to you in person is acceptable journalism. They’re especially adept at using your content without your permission.

Legally, because our laws haven’t caught up with social media yet, there’s not a lot that can be done if you, like me, are horrified by the fact your plea as a customer has ended up in the Telegraph’s latest beat up.

What hurts in this kind of situation is:

  • As a community manager and someone who runs a marketing business, I regretted how far the message went. And that it was quoted without context.
  • When you find out one of your most loyal lead sharers is currently working on the project at an agency.
  • The marketing business is tough. And I know it. So why was I contributing to the angst?

Luckily for me, I was able to turn this situation into giving feedback on the app that helped the process of customer transition. Instead of my contact dropping me like a hot rock, they drew me into the circle to get further information.

Lesson learnt.

While social media is fun for a bit of a rant and it is a positive customer service device, be aware that people can and will rip off what you say and use it for their own nefarious purposes. And that you may have to wear some very uncomfortable lumps for a while if they do.

This was a stupid thing for me to do, considering how many different agencies I have worked for in my time. And if it has an impact on my business, I should expect to wear it with a little more grace than my frustration with the Woolworths refresh.

The SEO is dead merry-go-round

There are two myths I cannot help myself but bust when I am traversing cyberspace.

The first is that you can earn whatever the heck you want from blogging until you get to $75K as a hobby business (BOLLOCKS! I swear, all the ATO needs to do is join closed blogging groups on Facebook and they’ll be recouping thousands. Are you listening oh treasurer?!).

The second is the various versions of “SEO is dead, mmmKay?”

SEO isn’t dead, it’s not napping and it has not been abducted by aliens. It’s a big part of business marketing. This has not changed.

What has happened over the years is SEO has changed to accommodate:

  • Our changing use of devices and search. It allows for mobile and voice search
  • Various changes to make sure black-hat techniques don’t work
  • A more naturalistic language (less keyword stuffing)
  • The changing needs of local versus global business

SEO is still necessary because if you don’t have search terms, Google and Bing won’t know which pages you want to pull up a page.

Recently, I had someone tell me page titles had replaced keywords. This is like saying signs on the shops had replaced the shop.

You still need keywords and their placement on a page and as a part of an overall content marketing strategy in order to rank for that term. It’s easy to misunderstand the significance because a page title is a part of SEO ranking.

It just isn’t the coach, quarterback and ball required for a touchdown. It’s maybe the assistant coach. But it’s not a player smashing through the line to score all by himself without a team.

It’s an easy mistake to make.

However, what isn’t an easy mistake to make is to jump on the thread late and call out everyone who blogs about SEO. It’s fairly deliberate to say the previous commenters and thousands of bloggers worldwide don’t know anything.

Unfortunately, one commenter felt the need to do this. He then requested people private message him to find out how to do SEO properly before ignoring questions as to his credentials on the matter.

First of all, that makes people pretty cross, especially when they’ve been giving free advice to help people out.

Secondly, it makes you look like a jerk. It makes you look like a jerk because anyone who knows anything about SEO is going to take one look at your website, run it through the appropriate tools and see if your claims stack up.

This guy’s claim went beyond not stacking up.  It showed Google can’t even see his bloody site to rank it.

The person I am referring to currently has a website that has an error 406. In very simple terms, it means Google can’t even scan the thing to get the keywords because the way the website is coded, Google thinks it’s dodgy.

It means the guy who is dissing everyone else over their SEO keyword knowledge has a website Google cannot see.

If his website was a car and he took it to the mechanic, the mechanic would be unable to fix the problem because the problem was a lack of engine.

I could have called him out on it. But then I felt like I would be the jerk in the equation. But it does worry me that he’s selling the idea he’s David Copperfield when he’s closer to a drawing of a magician on a rather dubious piece of paper.

Still…

Forget poking fun. Supply help instead

We all get it wrong on occasion. No one’s perfect when it comes to marketing business ideas or reaching out to their audience. A lot can go wrong and it’s not always the business or frontline staff that are at fault.

We’re all capable of needing to eat humble pie.

We’re not always the smartest person in a room, social media page or a thread. In fact, there is tremendous value in not being the smartest person in the room when it comes to business because you can learn.

But it’s the attitude you take to the experience that counts. Like if someone is giving you free assistance and taking the time to explain things, have the courtesy to listen. And if you are doing the explaining, mirror that courtesy back by being patient as the other person gets their head around what you’re sharing.

Jerktitude should never get in the way of solving the problem.

Whatever you do, don’t be the arrogant ass who rides in with all the answers. Even if you have all of them, be careful about how you present them.

Because even if you are right you may get your bum handed to you anyway. Skites are easy to take down and toppling them is slightly delicious. And Australians are especially big fans of hacking you off at the knees and cutting you back down to size.

We live for it. It’s like a national internet pastime.

And don’t put yourself in the place where a screen shot could come back to haunt your business or your personal credibility. It hurts. Trust me, I know.

Because when it comes down to it, none of us are really qualified to poke fun at someone else’s business.

We just need to make sure we sell ourselves better so that people don’t get mislead by the business jerk-holes.

Don’t you agree?

Want to talk about your marketing business with me? Why not book a marketing coach session with me? I can get you back on the road to happiness in no time.

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