By Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

My business partner tells a story about the time he drove to St. Albans, which is a town a few miles outside London.

When he got there, his client was very excited and agitated.  What’s up, Adam asked.  “Did you see our ad?”, was the answer.  Adam hadn’t.

“Our new billboard on the way into St. Albans”.  the client repeated.

Adam’s client went on to explain that they had spent £20,000 on a billboard and were very pleased with this.  Of course, this had been “sold” to them by a marketing agency along with phrases such as, “think of the ‘eyeballs’ driving into St. Albans all looking at your ad and all the leads.” 

The big question

When anybody talks to Adam about a marketing campaign, he always asks the question: “Does the phone ring more?”

And of course, it didn’t for this client.  Adam was like all the other drivers into St. Albans who totally ignored the advert.  The advert was just noise.

Now here’s the rub.

So is every form of cold outreach.

How many emails do you get a day from people you don’t know where you either just delete them or block them?  I have a friend who does not have an email address, he doesn’t need one.

There is a whole industry around using manipulative techniques to get you to open emails.  In Europe if you use manipulation it will just annoy the respondent.

Like many of us I’m sure, if you don’t know the person calling you on your mobile, you know it’s a cold call and don’t answer.

I live in an ad free world and I know many people who use ad blockers and their use is growing 30% year on year.

Every form of cold outreach is becoming less and less effective

This form of marketing has two things in common:

  1. It requires you interrupt the consumer.
  2. It means you are broadcasting (aka shouting) at customers.

Leo Burnett was one of the founders of interrupt marketing.  The way it was designed is this.  You take an uneducated buyer and “touch them”, you interrupt them and tell them about your product or service, as many times as you can.  It’s technology straight from the 1930s and things don’t seem to have changed much. 

The problem is things have changed.  We now have educated buyers.

If you want something, you go onto the internet and research it, or you ask your network.

One of our clients tells the story about his wife who wanted a new car.  She went onto the internet and asked her Facebook friends whether should she get the Audi, the Mercedes or a BMW.  The discussion determined that she needed to get the Audi and not from her local dealer but from one 200 miles away.  Decision made.

When you interrupt people now you just annoy them, nobody likes being sold to.

So the current solution to the problem is easy, we get a computer to help us.

Poor email open rates?  Let’s machine gun out more and more emails!

Unable to understand where our clients are in the buying cycle? Let’s throw content at them in the hope they will buy something through marketing automation!

Creating rubbish content that nobody reads? No problem, we can buy our way up Google!

Our website didn’t convert the client? No worries we will chase them around the internet trying to sell them something which they have already purchased from a competitor.

It goes on and on.  Martech does enable us to implement 1930s marketing practices at scale and at a scale Leo never imagined.  No wonder the consumer is ad blocking, pushing for laws like GDPR in Europe and more.  We all want to hide from the rise of the marketing machines and the onslaught of all that cold outreach.

Before I finish, there is a happy ending to this blog.  It’s called social media.  Your customers are on it pretty much all day and they are searching for your product and service, having conversations about your products and services.  Now if only there was a way to tap into that?  You could make a fortune!  Food for thought.

So why is martech like a pair of flared trousers?  We know we all had a pair, but will never admit it – this writer included!

Digital Leadership Associates: We are a Social Media Agency. We do three things: Social Media StrategySocial Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.