First off, know that this post was inspired by another blog I frequent, Redhead Writing, written by Erika Napoletano. In her post on Tuesday, May 25th, she went off on all the cheap crap some professionals use to market themselves, such as junky logo pens or those little stress balls, do-it-yourself/print-them-yourself-on-your-inkjet-printer business cards, and generic, stock logos to represent one’s company. The gist was, if you want to be perceived as a professional, why would you let the materials that market you or your business make you look like an amateur? The Redhead’s post made me reflect on what I see everyday in advertising that is just so bad and so easily preventable. Though I’ve touched on some of these issues before, Erika’s post stirred up some new thoughts. So please indulge me, and enjoy some non-poetic ranting about some of the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) advertising tactics I see that are just plain b-a-d…
• Just because your IT guy can use Adobe CS or your child owns a Mac, doesn’t make him or her a graphic artist. I see it everyday; shoddy looking ads, horrid layouts, font overdose, and no consistent look or theme from ad to ad. I understand that times are tight and it’s quite tempting to produce in-house, but remember that your ad is a reflection of your company. If you can’t take the time to get the details right in your marketing message, what does that say about your company?
• That nifty inkjet printer? It’s not for printing your brochures! Enough said!
• He may own a very expensive digital camera, but that doesn’t make your sales manager a qualified product photographer. I must say this is a tough one, as I’ve personally found a nice SLR digital camera on Auto can make even me look like a competent photographer. But that doesn’t mean I know how to use a strobe and reflector to properly light a person or product in a studio setting. Take it from me, lighting an inanimate object (or inanimate person) isn’t as easy as it may seem. And, if you have goods to sell, the photos you put out go a long way towards making the sale. So why would you risk the first impression of your product by advertising it with second rate photography?
• Professional looking home videos and ability to use Final Cut Pro do not a video director make. It’s easier than ever to get digital video from the camera to the computer screen. But that doesn’t mean the person with the camera is qualified to turn it into a TV spot or company video. There are plenty of video issues to consider, such as lighting, composition, and editing, and I promise you, the guy with the camera who doesn’t understand that is not qualified to be your video producer! In a world of professionally produced TV spots, a bad, self-produced commercial will do nothing but make your business look just as bad.
• Hundreds of Friends and thousands of Likes on Facebook doesn’t mean someone is qualified to be your social media manager. Quantity does not equal quality and “Likes” do not equal “leads.” Anyone can set up a Facebook or Twitter account, connect with everyone they know and post to their heart’s content, but that doesn’t mean they know how to craft a social media campaign and connect with your customers in a way that will promote your brand. Social media brand promotion requires a strategic plan that will drive traffic to your website and, ultimately, to your business. The woman whose Facebook page contains recipes and pictures of her kids or the guy who fills his Twitter feed with reactions to a football game and photos of his dinner shouldn’t be part of that plan.
• Writing code does not equate to creative writing. As a writer, I see this one every day. There are some immensely talented web designers out there. But the ability to write the code that creates impressive websites doesn’t always mean someone is qualified to write your web copy (or any other kind of copy for that matter!) It seems like for every killer website I come across, I see at least two more examples of brutally bad copy obviously written by someone who wasn’t a copywriter. And, though I’m singling out web designers as the chief offenders in this crappy copy indictment, the fact is, plenty of companies leave the copywriting to employees who just can’t write all that well. That may work fine for an internal newsletter but, for anything that your customers see, you need to make sure your words make an impact. SEO anyone?
Now consider your company’s advertising. Who’s responsible for developing your marketing material and, more importantly, who’s responsible for creating it? A DIY advertising campaign will work fine if qualified people produce it. But, if your DIY advertising involves your company’s CPA, then odds are, your message (and your sales) will be DOA with your target audience.