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How to Suck at Interactive Marketing

  |  December 21, 2001   |  Comments

In his past articles, Tig has explained how marketers should act to win clients and customers, but he hasn't yet explained how you should behave to lose them. In this article, he rectifies that oversight.

The past 70 Media 101 articles have tried to express what marketers should do to win clients and customers as well as advance the state of the art. I've been remiss, however, in describing how to do the opposite. Here are some handy tried-and-true ways to drive your business into the ground.

How to Lose Clients

Tell clients that interactive marketing is a magical medium that will, somehow, produce a huge return on investment because the medium is measurable. Once the client gets excited about that, make sure you don't collect that pesky performance data on the campaign that might show a return.

Better still, collect the data from the various sites and place it all in an Excel spreadsheet -- as though all of the numbers were comparable. Then, take the commerce figures from the client's site and place them next to those post-buy figures. Draw some unfounded conclusions about the surmised relationship between the two sets.

When those clients ask where their return went, you must tell them condescendingly that they clearly don't "get" online media and that they are holding the interactive component of the campaign to a different standard than the traditional component.

Of course, all these data shenanigans will take a lot of labor. After the buy, go back to the clients and bill them for the extra time you spent.

How to Lose Customers

Make sure that all online ads have very brash call-to-action messages. If they can blink in loud colors, that's all the better. Since you're judged based on the immediate performance of a campaign, it doesn't matter that customers begin to see your client's brand as cheap and pushy.

When people do click on your ads, don't take them right to the content they expect to find. Don't worry about dragging them through various ad servers to make sure their response registers with the site's and the ad agency's databases. Take them to jump pages. Customers love to wait for large interstitials to load.

When a customer does manage to persevere through the whole process of actually finding and purchasing something, make sure to throw out that name. That customer is very dangerous and is likely to purchase again.

How to Lose Employees

Ensure that all the interactive employees know that they are subservient to the "real" marketers in the other media groups. It goes without saying that they shouldn't be invited to strategy meetings or anything resembling a high-level discussion.

Though you might shift traditional media people from account to account, keep interactive folks tied to the same business so you guarantee yourself the opportunity of laying them off within the 18-month period the average online client stays at a given agency.

Instead of compensating employees with expensive things such as salaries and health benefits, reward them by increasing the budgets they get to spend for their clients. Tell them that their status grows in direct proportion to the money they oversee. A good line to use: "It doesn't matter that you don't receive the money, you still get to spend it!" That this winds up distending the relative media mix balance for the client doesn't really come into play, as the brand manager on the client side will see her status raised at the same time.

When you win new business, add the new responsibilities to the team that pitched the account. Since they're responsible for winning the business, you can reward them by foisting all the work onto them without hiring expensive new staff.

I can guarantee that if you follow all these strategies, very soon you will have no worries in the online media industry.

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Tig Tillinghast

Tig Tillinghast helped start and run some of the industry's largest interactive divisions. He started out at Leo Burnett, joined J. Walter Thompson to run its interactive division out of San Francisco, and wound up building Anderson & Lembke's interactive group as well.

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