The 10 Commandments Of Marketing

The 10 Commandments Of Marketing
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Oh, you’re… still here? Did the world not end on Saturday as promised? What a total gyp! I guess it’s back to blog-writing.

Have I offended anyone yet? There’s a decent chance I’ve offended someone just with the title of this post but once the idea occurred to me I couldn’t resist it. Blame it on too much Rapture talk this weekend. Am I being seduced by the devil? You’ll have to decide for yourself.

In the meantime, I decided to have a little fun while sharing this by-no-means-definitive-list of marketing rules so that yours will sing in angelic harmony.

Feel free to add your own commandment at the end. We welcome all marketing beliefs and persuasions on this blog.

I Am Your Marketing Professional. I Brought You Out Of Search Engine Obscurity. You Shall Put No Other Professionals Before Me.

Well, you can fire me and hire another professional I suppose, but as long as we’re working together, please stop telling me what you read on someone else’s blog/heard from your neighbor/got in an email this morning about magical ways to get to the top of search engines.

If you read it on a reputable blog, chances are I’ve read it too, because as a professional I stay on top of standards, trends, technology and information. If your neighbor told you about it, nod politely and ask about his arugula garden. And if you got it in an email… forward it to three of your friends, then count to ten and turn around in a circle four times and you’ll get your wish.

Thou Shalt Not Take The Name Of Your Customer, Company, Boss Or Competitor In Vain.

Let’s be realistic: there really is no such thing as privacy anymore.

If you go home, lock your door and sit in a dark room by yourself with the shades pulled, then you can have a reasonable expectation that whatever happens will stay private as long as your kids don’t have a teddy-bear-cam set up in the corner. Otherwise, it’s best to take the attitude that everything you say can and will be made public.

What’s to say with all the hacking going on that even something you said privately to someone online won’t end up public someday? What’s to say that the person you said it to will honor that privacy?

You’ve read about teachers who have been fired because they complained about parents and students on Facebook. And company CEOs who have gotten in hot water because of a mis-tweet. If you publish something negative about a coworker, colleague or customer, there’s tremendous potential for backlash. It could cost you credibility, customers, even your job.

So before you dash off that status update, blog or email, whether to the source of your frustration or to a fellow commiserator, be aware that you could do yourself and your business more harm than good.

If you’re that pissed off, go pay a therapist. It’ll cost less than the marketing effort involved in undoing the damage from one bad tweet.

Remember To Keep Holy The Workday.

There are a couple of things to consider here. For starters, your customers will reasonably assume that you’ll answer your phones and emails during regular business hours. The hours may change depending on your geography, but people understand that. What they won’t understand is sending you an email on Monday and waiting until the following Saturday to hear back.

In spite of the “timelessness” of the internet, people do retain the expectation that you will attend to business during the week. And if you do so on weekends, too, that’s great, but don’t let too much time go by before responding to someone. Forty-eight hours should be your upper limit.

The other thing to consider here is your weekend. Whether you take a break on Wednesday or Saturday, just take a break. You need time away from your business so you can reenergize and come back with a fresh, creative mind. And while you’re at it, consider my weekend.

There’s a good reason why you don’t have my cell phone number! And unless something is on fire, Friday at 4:59PM is probably not the best time to call me.

Honor Thy Consultant And Thy Developer.

Websites, email, search and social… this stuff only looks easy. It takes commitment, knowledge, experience, patience and effort to run a successful marketing campaign. Everything that happens in the name of your business should promote your brand and tell the same story. And everything should work together, not as separate pieces that get thrown out there from time to time.

Everything from email newsletters to Facebook updates to website content to brochures should be unified around your business plan and executed expertly. If it were fast or simple, then I’d be out of a job and as of today, I’m still working pretty hard.

Thou Shalt Not Kill Thy Marketing Program.

I’ve seen this trend a few times, post-9/11 when the economy tanked and of course in 2008-2009 when the economy really tanked. In a crunch, the first thing that gets kicked off the budget is marketing. Everyone’s got to pay the rent, the mortgage, the electric bill, the car insurance… so people look at a line item for “Facebook marketing” or “email campaign” and it seems like a no-brainer. Marketing goes.

This is such a huge mistake. When the economy is tough, marketing is that much more important because you’ve got to stay in front of your customers, who are as cash-strapped as you are. Unless you’re paying attention to your customers, reaching out to them, working with them and keeping them loyally in your camp, they will go to a cheaper option or maybe no option at all.

Even if you can’t put as much budget behind your marketing as you’d like to, don’t cut it out. If you do, you’ll save a few dollars now and guarantee zero return later.

Thou Shalt Not Adulterate Your Logo.

This is quite possibly one of the most grievous marketing sins. Unless you’re Google and you’ve mastered the Doodle, then leave your logo alone. Your logo is not art. It’s your brand. Don’t change the color for the holidays, don’t add a new tagline every few weeks, don’t switch up the layout. The only thing you’re allowed to do is create a color and a black-and-white version, and possibly two formats: a horizontal layout and a vertical layout.

The devil is strong when it comes to this one, but resist temptation by practicing this daily mantra: “No, my logo will not look cute with the American flag sticking out of it on the Fourth of July.”

Thou Shalt Not Steal Stock Photography.

I’m always stunned when I go to a business’s website and right there on the home page is a huge stock photo with the watermark right across it. If you’re new to the whole stock photo thing, here’s a lesson: it’s not free.

Of course, we’re schooled to believe that everything is or should be free on the internet. When we want photos, or episodes of TV shows, or music… well, we just download it, right?

You may be able to grab yourself a couple of great soundtracks and slide under the radar, but if you use stock photography that you haven’t paid for, it’s going to have a watermark on it and it’s going to say one of two things about your business: (1) These guys totally stole that photo because they’re too cheap to cough up the five bucks, or (2) These guys aren’t paying the remotest bit of attention to their website.

Which category would you rather be in? Neither? Hm. Buy your stock photography.

Thou Shalt Not Bear False Advertising Against Your Customers.

In this day and age it’s tough to get away with truly “false” advertising. Consumers are pretty savvy… except when it comes to believing that a Nigerian prince wants to give them ten million dollars or that Bill Gates will give them a nickel for every person they spam in their email contact list, but that’s another topic.

No, false advertising isn’t a huge problem. But deceptive advertising is. How many Facebook pages have you “Liked” because they’ve offered a free this or a coupon for that, only to receive nothing? How many boxes have you put your email address into because they’ve offered a breakthrough video or one-of-a-kind eBook, only to be redirected to a 47 question survey that required your personal information before proceeding? How many times have you clicked on an ad for a great deal on the exact doohickey you wanted, to find that the product was “out of stock” and an alternative version had been substituted?

There are plenty of ways to deceive, to grab a few email addresses, to generate a little traffic, but only one way to do it right: deliver what you promise. Say it, then do it, or you risk losing customers and credibility.

Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Competitor’s Website.

Check out your competitors to see what they’re doing. If you find yourself wishing you could do all the cool things they are, then why aren’t you? There’s no reason your website can’t be as good as – nay, better! – than your competitor’s. Even if you’re low on budget, there are creative ways to showcase your business without resorting to the cheap, overproduced, poorly designed template-look (with the watermarked photography).

And remember that some of the really cool stuff does take budget, so instead of coveting, try investing. With a little bit of power behind your marketing, you’ll gain back your investment and then some.

Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Competitor’s Facebook Fan Count.

Facebook is the new Google when it comes to comparing marketing successes. It used to be a race to get to the top of Google and now it’s a race to have the highest fan count. I think it’s an American thing… we like bigger, better, faster, more. So when it comes to fan counts, we’re impressed by the guy with 10,000. We want to be the one on Twitter with a million followers.

Here’s what I have to say about that: go for it. Just do it wisely, ethically, and within the context of your marketing plan. If you’re a local service company, it probably won’t do you much good to rack up thousands of fans who aren’t within your geography just so can say you have a big number.

Fifty devoted fans are better than thousands who have no interest in your company. And remember that your small business is not a celebrity. If you want fans and followers, it takes time and effort, and yes, even budget, to accumulate them. Instead of pining over your low fan count, get out there and change it.

In the process, hire yourself a good professional who will be devoted to helping you grow your business and then remember to honor them. And their weekend.

Hold on… are you still here? Wow, that’s impressive. Truly, if you’ve read all the way to the bottom of this post you’ve earned your sainthood and will be rewarded in the great beyond.

What do you think… have I missed any commandments? Let me know what terrible things you’ve seen done in the name of marketing.

Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn Rivera

I'm a business owner, content creator, podcaster and marketer. In 1999 I founded Rahvalor Interactive, a web and creative services production studio, with my husband and business partner Ralph. In 2011 we created Web.Search.Social, a consulting and marketing service line for small businesses. We also cohost the Web.Search.Social Podcast where we challenge the status quo of marketing and the Carbon Based Business Units podcast where we talk about the human side of being an entrepreneur. On any given day I wear the hat of project manager, consultant, social media manager and content marketer. My true passion is writing and in my spare time I'm busy planning my early retirement to Barcelona as a famous and wealthy novelist.
Carol Lynn Rivera
Carol Lynn Rivera