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Spooky Stories for Marketers: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Inc.

Angie Tran

Content Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

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‘Tis the season for scary stories! For marketers, there are tales far spookier than ghouls, demons, or monsters — marketing failures can cause uneasy chills worse than any campfire tale can. Here's a gruesome nightmare marketing scenario that will keep any unsuspecting marketer awake in the dark. 

At 11:38pm...

It’s late at night, and our intrepid hero, a mid-level marketing manager, is finally heading home. She’s spent weeks putting together a deck with budget calculations and ROI predictions in an attempt to woo her CEO into investing in a holiday campaign. As she picks up her laptop, she suddenly feels an eerie sensation. Goosebumps begin to tingle throughout her body. Spooked, she turns around, her mouth forming a silent scream. It’s the CMO — but he’s headless, translucent, and reaching out with a ghostly hand! 

For months, our marketing manager has suspected that an unknown deity had cursed the CMO. Despite the team’s protests, he scheduled meetings after meetings to discuss the latest digital trends and buzz phrases: chatbots, influencers, shoppable social posts, TikTok, gamification, the list goes on. “Content is king!!” he would roar demonically before declaring he was a “funnel expert.” He jumped on all these opportunities with nary a strategy in sight, causing the rest of the company to undermine all the good work from the marketing team. 

Although still in shock by the sudden apparition, our marketing manager knows exactly what to do. She frantically searches for a well-thumbed printout on her desk — aha, there it is! As the CMO creeps closer and closer, she waves the document as protection. Suddenly, the ghostly CMO is seemingly exorcised and transformed back into his human form, head and all. Our marketing manager collapses with relief and hands the document to him. It’s the comprehensive marketing strategy she had developed earlier in the year, which had been quickly abandoned after the CMO became possessed. 

Moral of the Story

We’ve all been guilty of falling for “shiny object syndrome,” especially in the context of digital marketing. But in today’s busy landscape, marketing strategies must be well-planned and well-executed to see meaningful results that align with company goals. While it’s true that fortune does favor the bold, chasing trends will only lead to short-term wins that can easily get lost in the weeds. 

Here are some pro tips to consider...

Establish your marketing goals and KPIs

Rather than focus on the day-to-day with hopes of capitalizing on trending topics in an attempt to go viral, establish a clear purpose from the start. Thinking about goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) will help you create a marketing plan, guiding your evaluations of tactics, creative direction, and campaigns. Ultimately, you want every decision to align with your marketing strategy — which you’ll also want to make informed adjustments to, if necessary.

Return to basics

There’s a reason why marketing experts such as Seth Godin still discuss the fundamentals of marketing in the digital age: they work. Consider brushing up on your traditional marketing knowledge, such as the 5Ps (product, price, promotion, place, and people), rather than spending all your time and effort mastering algorithms and optimization. After all, the biggest difference between the present day and the Mad Men era of marketing is the availability of new outlets for implementing creative ideas — consumer psychology, human motivation, and the power of art and copy are here to stay. 

Consider your audience

To develop a marketing strategy, it’s crucial to keep in mind the needs and desires of the people you’re targeting. Whether you do so through a customer survey or a focus group, take a deeper dive into their emotions, motivations, and passions. Instead of connecting your brand to a fleeting fad, you'll be equipped with insight into what messaging appeals to your customers the most. 

Make sure you’re working as a team

Rather than separating digital marketers from content marketers, or siloing performance marketers from social media marketers, have your teamwork toward the same goal under the same strategy. Data and insights should extend to everyone so ideas can flow organically. Because the customer journey is an increasingly fluid one with multiple touchpoints, all contributors to your organization’s marketing efforts must be aligned. 

For more spooky stories (but around Cyber Monday), read more here

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