Scariest Marketing Mistakes

Practitioners Share the Skeletons in Their Closets

Any horror aficionado knows that in every film, there’s always a curse, demon or twisted clown following the protagonist around. And just when the hero of the story thinks they’ve come out on top, these demons and psychopaths always find a way to come back. After more than a decade, even Jamie Lee Curtis couldn’t escape Jason. 
 
It may seem a bit dramatic to compare marketing to a horror flick, but it isn’t if you’re the one living it. Our days are chaotic, and with every move there are obstacles tripping us up in our sprint toward success. Should we stumble along the way, those failures gnaw at us like a zombie eager to chomp on our legs — even if they happened years ago. 

We reached out to a few of our marketing friends to see if they had any skeletons in their closets. Read on to hear the tales about their scariest marketing mistakes. Have you committed them, too? 
 

The Curse of “Spray and Pray”

spray and pray

“My first job out of college was with a publisher that printed gigantic books that were sometimes six inches thick — full of diagnosis and procedure codes used by healthcare billing staff. As if it wasn’t bad enough to peddle these tree killers, the marketing team would send out catalogs, renewal notices, and other direct mail campaigns convincing our target audience to purchase. When deciding who to send our mailers to, sometimes the answer was everyone — a database of hundreds of thousands of contacts. The scariest part? We measured ROI simply by dividing the cost of the mailing by the revenue that came in using that month’s promo code; and most of the time the ROI was fantastic, which fueled the business to continue to support this spray-and-prey strategy.” 
 
— Meg Hoyecki, SOC Telemed 

The Website Massacre

It

“I’d say the scariest marketing mistake I ever made was when I was early in my career and was just getting a handle on making edits in my company’s CMS for its public-facing website. I was a little overconfident for one of the updates and thought I could do it without asking for help. So, when I went through with publishing the change, it brought down the entire site for about an hour… Which is of course awful!” 
 
— Xiomara Taylor, Nasdaq

The Spooky Survey

“I once hired a company to conduct ‘shopper on the street’ interviews to support consumer research content. However, I failed to thoroughly evaluate the people doing the interviews and the locations they selected to do their research. I was hoping for compelling interviews of typical omni-channel shoppers in major shopping meccas. Instead, I ended up with convenience-store shoppers in front of run-down strip malls. They were neither typical nor omni-channel.”  
 
— Dave Bruno, Aptos  

The Haunted Inbox

spooky survey

“I’m not ashamed to admit that my scariest marketing mistake is actually a pretty common one that each digital marketer makes at some point: accidentally sending the wrong email to hundreds of thousands of your subscribers. It wasn’t fun coming in that day and realizing that I sent a group of readers an email that had nothing to do with their interests. I’d compare it to sending ESPN Newsletter subscribers a promo meant to target Lifetime Network fans. The way I see it, if you haven’t sent an email promo to the wrong list, you don’t belong in the digital marketing circle.” 
 
— Mike Santos, G3 Communications 

Do you have a B2B horror story to share? Dish it out in our comments section below! And if you haven’t committed a scary marketing mistake just yet, we hope you sleep well tonight. Happy Halloween from the Content4Demand team!