the inbound-i blog: Inbound Marketing Information, Ideas & Intelligence

Marketing Differentiation: How Canned Content Can Backfire

Posted by Ellie Becker on Wed, Feb 01, 2012 @ 15:02 PM

In a highly crowded and competitive online world, marketing differentiation is critical. We must take the time to understand and communicate what we bring to the marketplace that is unique and important to our customers. This is especially important if we’re in industries where we may be perceived as ‘cookie cutter’ to begin with. Here’s a good example of how not to differentiate yourself!Canned Content Can Backfire for Marketing Differentiation

Yesterday morning at 11:32 an email came across my desktop with the intriguing subject line: Happy Groundhog Day – which it wasn't. At 12:19 a second email with the same subject line arrived. I thought to myself, why did this person send me the same email twice within a short time frame?

When I had time to actually read my emails later in the day, I realized that I had received the same identical email from two different financial advisors with two different companies. Both emails included a link to a cute flash card with another link to the identical message, personalized with my first name. Each of their cards was signed with their name with yet another link to a contact form if I wished to leave them a message.

It was obvious that these guys had bought a canned content and ‘lead generation’ program. At the bottom of their emails I found a tell-tale link to a website: The url took me to a site called eRelationship, obviously intended for people who need to generate sales.

The headline promised to ‘Increase Your Commissions’.  The site offers automated emails, what they call ‘Validity Generators’ (enewsletters, articles, and other content), ‘Likeability Generators’ (Cards like the Happy Groundhog Day one, 4th of July, birthday, etc.), Lead Generators (‘For those appointments you couldn’t close’).

Nowhere do they warn that a prospect might get exactly the same content from your competitor. The only good news in that possibility is that he or she will look like as big an idiot as you do.

Look everyone, I understand that this Inbound Marketing stuff takes time and it’s easy to be tempted by services that will provide you with ‘content’. But for marketing differentiation, your content really has to be different!

Did these guys validate themselves as knowledgeable? Did getting their twin emails make them more likeable to me? Did their effort generate a lead? The answer to all three is a great, big NO!! In fact, what it got them was a click on the ‘unsubscribe’ link.

And here’s the main point of all of this. The goal of content marketing is not to get your prospects to like you. It’s to get them to trust you. There’s no way I can trust someone who doesn’t respect my intelligence or who won’t take the time to understand who I am and what I need so that they can provide information that’s useful.

So differentiate your marketing for marketing differentiation!!


Learn more about how Inbound Marketing can help differentiate your business, build trusting relationships with your prospects and lead to more sales.

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The image is from the Flickr photostream of Timparkinson under Creative Commons license.

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Content Strategy, Marketing, Lead Generation, Market Differentiation

The State of Marketing by the Google Search Numbers

Posted by Ellie Becker on Wed, Jan 04, 2012 @ 20:01 PM

Can you find the hidden story in last month’s Google search volume statistics for the following terms?Free Google Search Coupon

Marketing – 24,900,000 searches

Internet Marketing – 1,000,000 searches

Online Marketing – 673,000 searches

Email Marketing – 550,000 searches

Social Media Marketing – 246,000 searches

Inbound Marketing – 18,000 searches

As an Inbound Marketer, these stats tell me loud and clear why I still get glassy stares when I mention Inbound Marketing. Even though it’s been around for several years, comparatively speaking, it’s still not on a lot of radar screens. Sure, HubSpot, developer of the all-in-one Inbound Marketing software, has more than 6000 client companies onboard – a significant achievement for a young software company. But there are millions of businesses in the US that are still doing whatever in their marketing.

Email and Social Media Marketing are currently much better known and far more frequently adopted as marketing tactics. But they’re only a small part of what it takes to transfer online activities to bottom line results.

For this reason, I was heartened to read a guest post on Mark W. Schaefer’s {Grow} Marketing Blog today by “Social Steve” Goldner titled, It’s Time to Evolve the Social Media Mindset.

In my opinion, this is a very important post and one that I hope is amplified far and wide. It makes a great case for not creating digital marketing ‘silos’ and for working toward strategic and holistic integration of online marketing tools into business processes.

In a big way, Steve’s post is a call for a return to good and proven marketing principles that translate just fine into the digital framework. As a social media ‘guru’ he has particular credibility in making this call to action.

For years I’ve been a proponent of marketing integration, which stubbornly remains elusive regardless of the platform. Somehow, we humans love to carve out turf and defend it in the competitive environment.

Social Steve’s post suggests that we get beyond compartmentalizing the elements of Inbound Marketing and get to some real results and leverage. I couldn’t agree more. Huzzah!!

How is your company breaking down the Social Media silo?

While you're thinking about this subject, you may want to learn "20 Reasons Why You Should Take Control of Your Marketing Using HubSpot." It only takes a click to access your free copy.


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Image of Google Free Coupon is from the Flickr photostream of Bramus! under Creative Commons license.

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Online Marketing, Social Media, Marketing, Mark W Schaefer, Social Steve Goldner

Marketing Word of Mouth: What’s Your Purple Goldfish?

Posted by Ellie Becker on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 @ 12:12 PM

What's Your Purple Goldfish by Stan Phelps Book CoverThis morning I had breakfast with my friend and marketing colleague Stan Phelps, Chief Solutions Officer at Synergy Events. Stan and I were talking about The Purple Goldfish Project, an almost two-year book venture of his that he’s trying to wrap up for an early January publishing date.

For the book, he’s compiling 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe, which he terms Purple Goldfish. A Purple Goldfish is when a company “gives little unexpected extras” (G.L.U.E.) as added value. It’s Purple Goldfish that become the stuff of positive word of mouth.

Stan is in the high 900’s toward his goal of 1,001 - but time's growing short. I decided I’d do my best to help get him there. If you think it’s easy to come up with examples of Purple Goldfish, it’s not! I wracked my brain all last evening and it took me til half way through breakfast to come up with one that made Stan’s eyes light up. Here it is:

Some years ago I went to get into my car in my parking garage to find it had been hit. A Good Samaritan had left a note on a scrap of paper on the windshield saying they’d witnessed the hit and run. They gave me the make, model, color and license plate number of the car.

I duly made a police report and informed my insurance company of many years, State Farm. The representative I spoke with obtained the police report and ok’d my claim less my $500 deductible, which I paid.

Several months later I received a call from State Farm’s investigations department asking if I had any documentation about the incident other than the police report. I had kept the original windshield note in my accident file and faxed a copy.

Six months after that, I received a check for $500 from State Farm. There was no explanation, so I called before depositing it to be sure there was no mistake.  Here’s what I was told:

“When you gave the investigations department a copy of the witness’ note, they saw that the police officer had gotten one number of the license plate incorrect on his report. We were then able to track down the person who hit your car and go after his insurance company for reimbursement of your claim and deductible, which we refunded to you.”

WOW!! If that’s not a Purple Goldfish, I don’t know what is! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told this story over the years.

The positive word of mouth has, I’m sure, gotten State Farm far more than the $500 that I never would have known about, were it not for their proactive, honest customer relationship building – not to mention their persistence.

If you have any Purple Goldfish tales, please share them in the comments and I’ll pass them along to Stan. You can follow his progress and acquire the book when it’s published at

Topics: Online Marketing, Marketing, Ellie Becker, What's Your Purple Goldfish, Stan Phelps, State Farm, Lagniappe

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