It would be funnier if it didn’t hurt so much

We see blunders all the time in marketing, especially when people try to take shortcuts or listen to bad advice that ends up working against them. No matter what kind of decision you make, though, you can rest easy knowing that someone else has probably done worse.

Today we want to help everyone feel a little bit better about the guffaws they’ve committed, and to show just how surprisingly easy it is to do something that will make you want to smack your own forehead at times.

Here are three blunders that will leave you sighing in relief that you didn’t make them…


#1 “Leads? What Leads?”

Some time ago, we undertook a complete website redesign and development project for an established business. A successful enterprise with a great product, smart management team, and dozens of positive success stories.

That’s why I was so surprised when I got a call one day, out of the blue, from an executive at the firm. He seemed a bit baffled that all of our activity hadn’t led to a single lead. He was getting some phone calls, sure, but nothing from the website form we had anticipated would be popular with prospects. His question, basically, was “where are all the leads we should be getting?”

confused by no lead notifications

That’s not the kind of question I’m accustomed to receiving, and my mind momentarily went blank. Then I started digging. In the back end of their contact management system, I could see dozens and dozens of contact requests.

A few questions later, I learned he had been annoyed by the number of email alerts he was getting, so decided to unsubscribe. Yes, his website was generating multiple sales opportunities a day, but they weren’t even going into his SPAM folder.

Mystery solved, his sales team frantically began calling the leads. Some of them were saved, but a lot of the opportunities were lost. The losses probably totalled several hundred thousand dollars. Luckily, though, new leads continued to come in. He has since re-subscribed to his email notifications.


#2 Going Old School Sales on New Prospects

Working with another client back in 2013, my team helped to create a rather large website. The company had customers around the world, with differing personas and motivations. In order to help them appeal to buyers, we created tailored campaigns, each with specialized content designed to attract and qualify prospects.

I was sure that we had done great work, and that the organization was going to be very pleased with the results. However, through the course of a few short meetings, I learned that they were becoming increasingly distressed with the lacklustre sales and revenue figures that were coming in.

After looking through the relevant metrics, I couldn’t understand what the problem might be. They had a great search engine position, lots of engagement on their content, and a few thousand new contacts from interested prospects (more than quadruple historical numbers). I wondered what possibly could be going wrong?

hard selling prospects can leave them feeling alienated

The only way to figure it out was to trace a few of the opportunities from start to finish.

What I discovered with a bit of detective work revealed that their old-school sales team was taking information requests and treating them as buying signals, pouring on the sales pressure. As a result, an embarrassing low ratio of leads had committed to take the next step.

The moral of this story is that the Internet has changed everything. Buyers like to gather information and move forward at their own pace. Deploying an inbound lead generation approach only works if you understand the buying process. Come on too strong, and you’ll scare the game away.


#3 Patience Is Still A Virtue

A couple of years ago, we had a client come to us with a unique challenge: they had a new professional development program, and wanted to attract a very specific type of international enrolee, but we had to do it on a shoestring budget. We were intrigued and relished the chance to see what we could do.

By optimizing an advertising spend of just $500 per month, we were able to increase this site’s key page views by a staggering 15,000%. At the same time, we beefed up their content and optimized their website to the point that their Moz (DM) ranking rocketed up from 2.4 to 6.4, taking them from obscurity to the top of their industry in just a few months.

I was shocked to learn one day that they were dissatisfied with our work. Rather than looking at these early indicators of success, they expained that very few prospects had decided to commit to purchase.

foreign enrollment

In drawing these conclusions, they overlooked the fact that their target audience was living and working overseas and would have to relocate to North America in order to attend, plus the first courses wouldn’t begin for many months, and that the goal of the campaign was to build awareness.


Our clients are wonderful people with great businesses, and it’s our honour and privilege to help them. Once in a while, though, they do things that make us shake our heads. Do you have a better blunder to share? Get it off your chest by sharing your story in the comments below or in social!

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