The Deadliest Marketing Sin Most Brands Are Making
My father once told me that choosing to be poor is stupid.
I’m old enough now to understand that there are many factors that go into poverty, and that choice isn’t always one of them.
However, it’s been hard as a business owner to get his statement out of my head.
My father grew up in a very poor family in rural Virginia. He had 4 other brothers and sisters, and my grandfather was a sharecropper. He raised tobacco on another man’s land, and did his best with the leftover money to support his family. Dad has told me many times about suppers that didn’t fill him up, having to wear hand-me-down clothes, and the reality that higher education was a distant dream. He bootstrapped his way to the top, and taught many of those skills and values on to me.
As I was driving to a client last week, I was thinking about what it must have been like to be a sharecropper when I suddenly realized I was one. I was committing the deadliest sin any business owner can make online.
I was trying to grow my crop on another man’s land.
You’re probably sharecropping too.
Is your Marketing lost in sin?
It’s part of any solid digital marketing strategy to make sure you have a business presence where your customers live. In the old days, this meant having billboards and newspaper ads in your local community. As businesses went national and international, it meant having a strong website and a good direct marketing program. It meant building up a customer database with addresses, phone numbers, and later – emails. Lately, it means being on Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.
There’s nothing wrong with social media marketing. It’s part of any good customer service strategy and brand outreach. Additionally, it’s as necessary these days for businesses to have a Twitter handle and a Facebook page as it is to have a website, with desktop and mobile versions.
However, with anything new comes temptation. Sin. On social media, that translates to:
- Greed – “I want more followers, subscribers, and “likes” than anyone else!”
- Pride – “I don’t care what you have to say, only my voice is important because I am Brand X and I am awesome.”
- Lust – “You’re hot. I’m just in this for the first interaction. After that, I’m not going to email, text, or reply ever again.”
- …and so on, and so forth.
Yet the biggest sin we make isn’t one that’s in the Bible. It’s the sin of sharecropping.
Who really owns your audience?
When we sharecrop online, we’re building a brand audience on someone else’s property. We’re trying to build a tribe on Facebook and letting them live on Facebook. We’re planting a farm of followers on Twitter and keeping all the conversation there. We’re putting our videos on YouTube, without also embedding them on our website.
And it’s wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
If you’re not sending them back to your land, then you’re sharecropping. You’re working really hard on Facebook and the main beneficiary isn’t YOU, it’s Facebook.
The most important component of your social media strategy should be to drive people back to the land YOU own. Your website. Your email database. Your mobile database. Five years ago, no one predicted that MySpace would be a marginal channel. What would happen to your business if Facebook shut down tomorrow? Do you know who your Facebook fans are? Do THEY know where to find YOU outside of Facebook?
It’s solid strategy to be on social media; it’s bad strategy to leave your audience on social media.
Bring them home. Own your harvest.