Marketers: To Disrupt, Please Educate and Inform. Don't Interrupt and Sell. You Could Kill Your Brand.

By Toby Reed

I have some time to kill. I’m in an airport awaiting a flight to Dusseldorf, Germany and see a text message that my flight has just been delayed 2 hours. Lovely! So, like any good professional, I power up my laptop and figure I will make lemonade out of lemons and get some work done. Oh, if it were only that easy.

Interruption Marketing's Backlash

You see, despite my best intentions, I keep getting distracted. People walking by asking to share a charging station, cute little kids running up and down aisles, and of course; there are the pop-up ads. Rather, ‘interruption marketing’, the annoying little brother of the more commonly known and accepted ‘disruptive marketing’ that has caught fire the last few years. You know those pop-ups ads that take over the screen space you were using to once be productive or the hard sell TV adds or billboards that unabashedly thrust themselves upon you. That ‘marketing-ish’ stuff that gets thrown at you without the use of any search data, or ‘beacons’, or knowledge what-so-ever to determine if you are even remotely the right target audience. Unfortunately for the marketer, I the potential customer being marketed to, am now annoyed. And I am frustrated not only with the pop-up ad keeping me from being productive, but angry with the company who is doing the marketing. In my case, and I would guess in others, this type of ‘interruption marketing’ has had the exact opposite effect intended. It made me DISLIKE THE BRAND.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the new sales and marketing philosophies out there. Disruptive Sales/Marketing, Challenger Sales, and the fusion of Marketing and Sales in these new models. I get that they are all designed to jump start a new sales process because buyers are doing their own leg work on products and services via the internet without engaging the suppliers first. So the new sales/marketing models are meant to introduce previously unknown risks or opportunities to the buyer to move them into a status of ‘trouble’ or ‘growth’. A place where the buyer feels they need to learn more. Once the buyer has moved into this new mental paradigm about their current situation, the supplier who introduced the ‘trouble’ or ‘growth’ concept is at the front end of a new sales cycle and presumably has the opportunity to solution sell. I completely get it. Really, I do.

But that isn’t what interruption marketing is. It is ‘disruptive marketing’ executed poorly and without a plan. What if the execution of your ‘disruptive’ sales or marketing plan is off and doesn’t create a buyer paradigm shift about their own situation, but instead a shift in perception of you as a solution provider?  What if it really is just ‘interruption marketing’? Do we see the potential pitfall here? Convergence of channels and the Sales and Marketing paradigms are essential today. But is simply being an “interruption” as a marketing or sales effort really the way you want to go about it? Do you really want your brand to be synonymous with annoying? Of course not. Instead there needs be an underlying content model that is intended to inform and educate your customer. There also needs to be a robust channel strategy that reaches your key customer profiles at critical moments. If not, I believe you run the risk of turning off would be customers not only from your product, but your company too.

Educate and Inform

I subscribe more to David Meerman Scott’s philosophy in this arena. The author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR”. He summarizes a philosophy that I subscribe to perfectly. He says "educate and inform instead of interrupt and sell".  EXACTLY.  Ditch the “interruption” piece of the marketing and sales philosophy. Instead of creating a random one-way interruption that potentially could hurt your brand, find ways to deliver meaningful content at the moment your customer needs it through a thoughtfully considered content and channel management philosophy. Does that require planning and a robust execution strategy? Absolutely! Is that more difficult than simply programming pop-up ads to ‘interrupt’ buyers that say ‘buy me’? Most definitely. But who ever said great marketing and effective sales were easy?

The landscape for Sales and Marketing is changing all the time.  If you are a business that is currently using old marketing paradigms and are considering venturing out on your own into marketing’s brave new world of ‘disruptive marketing’, please do not do so whimsically. Instead, do your homework or you run the risk of alienating customers with poor ‘interruption’ marketing. If you need a place to start to better understand what is involved in developing and sustaining a marketing campaign that leverages the new media and marketing channels available to us consider reading David Meerman Scott’s book “The New Rules of Marketing and PR”. The link for which is here http://www.davidmeermanscott.com/books/the-new-rules-of-marketing-and-pr/.

 In the meantime, I have about 20 minutes left before I have to board my flight. I think I will just watch the cute kids run up and down the aisle laughing for a little while. I find that disruption much more enjoyable than the interruption of those pop-up ads.

Categories:

Add new comment