Posted by Allister Frost
It’s the business equivalent of going out with your skirt tucked in.
That time when your marketing efforts are so obviously focussed on a single goal, you fail to leave anything to the customer’s imagination.
And instead of joining in, your customers just feel pity that your sorry attempts to steer them towards your business objective have failed so badly.
DeVere Group Hotels seems to be falling into this trap rather regularly. Despite being one of their customers, all they seem to want me to do is show how much I ‘like’ them on Facebook. And if I do I could win a stay in one of their hotels. Or a £50 spot prize every week. Or a prize. Did we mention the prizes?
Sometimes they invite people to complete a survey, as explained on the business cards and billboards dotted around their hotels. But you can only enter the survey after first giving them a ‘like’ on Facebook:
Other times, they send out aesthetically-challenged emails, enticing people in with more special prizes. All you have to do is give them a ‘Like’ on Facebook:
So that’s four mentions of ‘like’ in a single email.
It’s akin to hearing the least popular kid at school pleading for someone to be friends with them.
This isn’t how marketing is supposed to work. Where’s the creativity, where the mystery and intrigue?
When your hidden agenda is glaringly conspicuous, can you really expect those customers who comply to feel good about themselves? Or will they just feel used and abused?
But, maybe it works. If your measure of success is counting the number of people who follow your desperate cries for help, then perhaps it does work. A quick glance at De Vere Hotels’ Facebook page shows a sharp jump in the number of likes, averaging around 2,000 new likes per week, although dipping slightly recently:
That’s nice. And what’s the value of 5,106 likes? Sadly, if they’ve all been collected through short term prize incentives that demonstrate no long-term loyalty or affinity to the brand their value is zero. Nothing. Nada. The square root of FA.
5,106 likes is nothing more than puffery and noise, something for a misguided brand manager to crow about to distract the rest of the business from the fact that they’ve been abusing the trust customers have placed in them.
However well-intentioned, this approach to social media marketing is neither wise nor effective. Yes, there’s a possibility that De Vere Group may have some brilliant plan up its sleeve to ignite this new community into a passionate army of influencers that will transform their business. But, as yet, there’s no evidence of anything more than an ill-judged social networking land grab taking place before our eyes.
Marketing in a real-time, two-way world doesn’t have to be this shallow. If your strategy bears any resemblance to that of De Vere Hotels Group, now would be a very good time to change.