My Pet Peeves

I’m a primary target for companies selling the latest and greatest marketing technologies. I constantly get cold calls and emails inviting me to check out this or that. In investigating all these new things, I’ve developed a pet-peeves list of mistakes I see all-too often. We all make mistakes, but these make me inclined to write off the company I’m investigating from the get-go.

I’m sure I’m not alone. There are a lot of people out there in roles similar to mine, and these things must bug them as much as they bug me. So, all of you sales, marketing, and biz dev folks out there, listen up! Here are a couple of items from my list of Things to Avoid at All Costs.

Buzzwords

Have you ever visited a company’s site for the first time because you want to know what it does? You spend 10 minutes reading the “about” section, then skim through “products overview” or “solutions overview,” and when you’re done you haven’t the foggiest notion of what the company does.

This happens to me all the time. Some companies fill their sites with so much marketing hype and strings of buzzwords that language is rendered meaningless.

Check this out (I pulled it from a company’s site):

A suite of customer-empowering products and services that enables companies, via multiple digital touch points, to reach their customers with the intelligent delivery of relevant, timely and targeted communications and applications to profitably drive business.

That all sounds extraordinarily impressive, but what is it? What does it do? How does it work? How can my clients use it? Give me some examples! The worst part of this particular example is that it doesn’t get any clearer as you drill deeper. I spent a few more minutes on the site, read more about this incredible suite of products, and then I even watched a Flash “demo.” I still have absolutely no idea what this thing is.

The site even offers examples that make sense and seem powerful, but there’s no specific information about how the company enables the examples to happen. That might be the key — show-and-tell. The company shows impressive marketing programs that are clever and very powerful, but it doesn’t tell how its solution/product/technology works. If you’re not telling, what’s the point?

Please do away with the buzzwords. Drop the hype. Just tell me what you do and how it works.

Demos That Don’t Demo

I love this.

You hear about something ground-breaking and revolutionary. You visit the site and are pleased to discover a link to a demonstration. The page loads and you sit there, waiting for the magic. Waiting to be impressed. Waiting to be blown away by this amazing new advertising technology.

Nothing.

You get a blank page or a broken image link or a 404 error. No explanation, no notification that you need to download the plug-in. Just white space on an empty page.

I do a lot of work on my trusty Mac. But I also have a PC on my desk, with perhaps the most common contemporary Web configuration — Windows 2000 running Internet Explorer (IE) 5.5. If your technology doesn’t work there, it’s got problems.

So please, do not post a demo until you’ve quality assured (QA’d) it backwards and forwards. If you’re eager get your technology seen, go ahead and post the demo, but also post caveats. In your QA process, you should have uncovered any circumstances under which a bug will crop up, the ad won’t load, or other problems. Maybe it doesn’t work in Netscape 4.7, or you have to enable the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) in IE. So, tell me. Then, if the demo doesn’t work, I know why and can perhaps change my configuration to view it.

These things seem like common sense, don’t they?

But, in launching a new product or service there are a million things to get accomplished — we can all relate. A good site and a killer demo are important, but they’re also the last steps in a very long process and are often the first pieces to have their timelines trimmed.

Just remember that old adage: You have only one chance to make a first impression. If that impression triggers one of my pet peeves, don’t hold your breath waiting for me to return your phone call.

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