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4 Annoying Marketing Personas

Acxiom Last Updated September 2nd, 2014
4 Annoying Marketing Personas

As a marketing professional, I have been capturing annoying marketing behaviors over the years. I have found that our customers are most likely not going to bring these offenses to our attention. Instead they will either learn to love us (warts and all) or they will leave.

As seasoned marketers, we may not be able to recognize these behaviors on our own. To help us become more self-aware, I pulled a few of the most annoying offenders to share along with tips for how to improve.

1. The Know-it-All Marketer

This marketer has most likely spent years and countless dollars on decision science and analytics peeling back the layers of CRM data. They pride themselves on their knowledge of their customers and their segmentation strategy. In a customer centric ecosystem where personalization is an expectation, this persona has it made in the shade, right?

Maybe not. Even the most seasoned marketer can get a little too big for her britches and either make wrong assumptions based on data or even worse, paint communication to key segments with too narrow of strokes.

In my last post I described an email I received with “We Know” in the title. They were wrong.

I am all for being bold but I can’t say this enough. If you are going to be bold and use phrases like, “We Know”, please make sure the words that follow are based on sound evidence (i.e., purchased this brand >=3 times with 0 returns, and/or rated this product 5 stars, etc.). Otherwise, it’s best to err of the cautious side.

Similarly, one of my friends lives with his sister. He shops regularly for his nieces and nephews. He is single and has no children of his own. He is often marketed to as a father of small children. I was shocked when he shared this with me. That is another bold and incorrect assumption most likely drawn from his data (i.e., does male + regular purchases in children’s department + presence of children at a household level = dad?). What does marketing to this specificity unless I know that I know gain vs. cost by way of customer engagement?

In a time of the “Modern Family” and global communication and as we continue to expand our personalization efforts we need to take a step back to make sure we aren’t infusing our marketing efforts with our individual perspectives and biases.

2. The Digital Know-it-All Marketer

This could be considered the younger sibling to the previous persona. Instead of CRM data, The Digital Know-It-All Marketer most likely engages based mostly on online behaviors tied to cookies.

For example, when I perform a one-off search for a weird product (for a friend, of course) and visit a site that sells that product, I may see that product follow me around to other sites in the form of digital ads. In essence the message conveyed is, “I know you searched for this product on my site. I assume you must want to buy one.”

Even worse, as a long-time customer, I click though a display ad with price points much better than what I’m currently paying. After clicking through and giving my personal information, I am informed that I’m not eligible for these rates. They are for new customer only.

The intended message in this case was something like, “We know you are interested in these services. We know you look like one of our best customers.” However, by not suppressing this message to current customers, the message becomes, “We care more about getting new customers than keeping you.”

To enable better 1:1 engagements, consider the full customer portrait – both CRM and online data. Bringing this data together in a privacy compliant manner enables more meaningful engagements no matter what channel or touch point. It’s all about the individual. Check out How to Get 10x Return on Your Banner Ad Campaigns for tips and a case study that brings this concept to life.

3. The Marketer with Short Term Amnesia

This marketing persona reminds me of Tom in the movie 50 First Dates. Tom has a head injury that resets his short term memory. As a result, he introduces himself to everyone he encounters every 10 seconds (whether new acquaintance or long-time friend). While I sympathize with Tom because of his injury, you can imagine how annoying this behavior can become over time. How much more annoying would this behavior be without injury?

This is the experience I have with one of the retailers I frequent. I’ve been an email subscriber for years. Without fail, when I click from the newsletter through to their site, a box pops up that asks me to consider subscribing to their newsletter. Ack!

With this simple faux pas, they failed to recognize my loyalty and regular engagement and missed an opportunity for personalization and meaningful engagement.

In this case, the fix is quite simple. Implement a business rule on the site to suppress this message when a customer clicks through from the newsletter. Even better, personalize the site to enhance my experience.

4. The Marketer That Cried Sale

Have you experienced this annoying persona? Every communication sent (email, social media, etc.) touts a store-wide sale.

The names of this example have been removed and the titles modified ever so slightly to protect the identity of the most recent offender:

Monday – “Take 20% off the entire store TODAY Only.”
Tuesday – “We’ve extended 20% off the entire store one more day.”
Wednesday – “20% off the entire store – One. More. Day!”
Thursday – “40% off the Entire Store.”
Friday – “All Jeans $20 All Day.”
Saturday – “Major Score, 40% off the entire store.”
Sunday – “Last day to save 40% off the entire store.”
Monday – Rinse and Repeat.

Not only has this filled my inbox and conditioned me to backburner and even ignore any and all communication from this company; it has deflated my perception of the value of the items in the store and taken away any sense of urgency I may have had to make a purchase. Not to mention had I taken advantage of the sale on Wednesday, how upset would I be when I see Thursday’s message?

On the other hand, another company has a 40% storewide sale at most 3 times a year. When I see 40% off from that company, I click through to the site, I fill my shopping cart and I check out as quickly as possible because I know this is a rare sale and items will sell out quickly.

I realize not everyone behaves the same way I do. Maybe the daily “everything is on sale” communications work for some customer segments while others could not care less about a sale. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what customers want? Why not ask them (at point-of-sale, on a preference center online, etc.) and then put that knowledge into action?

I know (careful) that I have just scratched the surface (in both personas and tips for improvement). What annoying marketing personas have you encountered? What advice would you give to those offenders?

Did you recognize any of these personas in your marketing plan? Now what? To quote Coach John Wooden, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”