Microsoft’s Social Media Marketing Fail

Some marketing campaigns are so groan-worthy you have to share (and turn them into an object lesson).

I received the following email from Microsoft, proclaiming, “You’re social, we’re social”:

Microsoft's Social Media Marketing Fail

Object Lesson #1: Don’t Beg

There are few things more pathetic than a brand begging you to be friends with them. I’m sorry, Microsoft, you can’t join my “cool kids” party. From the looks of things, if I “get social” with you, you’ll just beg me to buy a Surface next week.

Object Lesson #2: Avoid Marketing Jargon

Another big problem with this marketing communication is that it has so much jargon. I guarantee your customers don’t use phrases like “follow us on social” in their daily lives.

Object Lesson #3: Know Your Customer

Microsoft has no idea who I am or what I like, so they had to send me a generic, meaningless email full of marketing buzzwords. In our analytics-driven age, even an ordinary small business can know more about its customers than Microsoft apparently does about me.

Learn from these lessons, and you can at least prevent your customers from rolling their eyes at your marketing messages. To motivate your customers to do more exciting things, learn about the Communication Trifecta.

Marketing Podcast: The Future of Search Marketing

My article two weeks ago, “The Diversification of Search (and Your Marketing Budget),” seems to be coming true faster than I had anticipated. In this marketing podcast with Dave Weatherholt, I detail the recent news of Microsoft increasing user privacy in the new Internet Explorer 10– and how that will impact business’s search engine marketing campaigns, like Google AdWords.

Download or listen below:

The Future of Search Marketing

Marketing Podcast: The Future of Search Marketing (4.4 MB)

This segment first aired during “Getting Down to Business” on Alaska’s Fox News Talk 1020.

The Communication Trifecta

Content, timing, media – this sums up the marketing communications trifecta. And they all have one goal: communicate with your customers in ways that are meaningful to them.

If you don’t communicate with customers in ways that are meaningful to them, your messages will be ignored (or, even worse, your customers will become angry with you). Don’t waste your marketing budget on direct mail pieces that will be thrown in the trash or email messages that will be marked as spam. Here are some things to consider as you design your communications with customers.

Talk like a customer.
The most important element is the content of your message. Communication is for your customers, not for you, and the content should be designed for the customer. Sometimes, companies fall into the trap of creating communications for themselves, instead of for their customers. In their latest ads for Windows 7, Microsoft developed a hilarious message… by poking fun at their customers. Watch as the customer in this ad enters a dream world, imagining an impossibly idealized version of herself:
How is this ad supposed to be meaningful for Microsoft’s customers? Microsoft made the mistake of designing an ad they found funny, without considering what their customers might think.
At least Microsoft didn’t fall into the trap of many technology companies by listing all their new technical features. You’ll notice they didn’t even mention the technology. That’s because almost no customer cares about technological details. They care about having a computer that is easy to use, and Microsoft knows that.
It’s 3AM. Do you know where your marketing communications are?
Beyond the content of your messages, you must consider the timing of your communications. Telemarketers are infamous for calling people as they sit down to dinner. Telemarketers are also known for their low success rates – The Direct Marketing Association reports that the response rate for outbound telemarketing is between 2.9 – 4.4% (they also report this rate is the best for all direct marketing methods – yikes!). Consider when your customers would like to hear from you. For example, if you are emailing a B2B newsletter, don’t send it out Monday afternoon. It’s likely your customers are already busy and won’t have time to read it.
So many choices.
Completing our trifecta of communication is the medium you choose. There are more media than ever from which to pick: magazines, direct mail, newspapers, pay-per-click advertising, social media, local events, radio and many other choices. Fortunately, choosing a medium is not as difficult as it might seem. The only media that matters to you are the ones that matter to your customers. An assisted living facility might advertise in a well-respected local newspaper, because that’s what their customers trust. An organic bakery, on the other hand, might not do any traditional advertising at all, if they determine they can best reach their customers at the local farmers’ market or on Facebook. One media tip: the more local your business is, the more local the communication should be.
Communication is more than just advertising.
Traditional marketing communications like we’ve been discussing are the flashiest and most obvious element of communicating with your customers, but, really, communications include every time you talk to your customers and every time they try to talk with you. While a large part of communication is advertising, you need to evaluate every point of communication with your customers.
Some of the non-advertising communications you should evaluate include your billing documents, receipts, the experience of calling your business on the phone, handling a customer service issue or walking into your store. The strength of the small business is that you can give thought to every experience your customers have with you and your company. Making beneficial changes to non-advertising communications with your customers is usually inexpensive and can make a big difference to the bottom line.
New isn’t always better.
I know many small businesses feel the need to try out new and various ways of advertising, and they spend a lot of money trying to find “what works.” But you don’t have to guess, and you don’t need to listen to high-pressure sales pitches. You can evaluate every new advertising opportunity with the question, “Will this be meaningful to my customers?” By making all communications customers have with you meaningful, you will be able to stretch your marketing budget further and with more success.

Talk like a customer.

The most important element is the content of your message. Communication is for your customers, not for you, and the content should be designed for the customer. Sometimes, companies fall into the trap of creating communications for themselves, instead of for their customers. You can see an example of this in my post, “Microsoft, why do you insult your customers?

At least Microsoft didn’t fall into the same trap as many other technology companies by listing all their new technical features. You’ll notice they didn’t even mention the technology. That’s because almost no customer cares about technological details. They care about having a computer that is easy to use, and Microsoft knows that.

It’s 3AM. Do you know where your marketing communications are?

Beyond the content of your messages, you must consider the timing of your communications. Telemarketers are infamous for calling people as they sit down to dinner. Telemarketers are also known for their low success rates – The Direct Marketing Association reports that the response rate for outbound telemarketing is between 2.9 – 4.4% (they also report this rate is the best for all direct marketing methods – yikes!). Consider when your customers would like to hear from you. For example, if you are emailing a B2B newsletter, don’t send it out Monday afternoon. It’s likely your customers are already busy and won’t have time to read it.

So many choices.

Completing our trifecta of communication is the medium you choose. There are more media than ever from which to pick: magazines, direct mail, newspapers, pay-per-click advertising, social media, local events, radio and many other choices. Fortunately, choosing a medium is not as difficult as it might seem. The only media that matters to you are the ones that matter to your customers. An assisted living facility might advertise in a well-respected local newspaper, because that’s what their customers trust. An organic bakery, on the other hand, might not do any traditional advertising at all, if they determine they can best reach their customers at the local farmers’ market or on Facebook. One media tip: the more local your business is, the more local the communication should be.

Communication is more than just advertising.

Traditional marketing communications like we’ve been discussing are the flashiest and most obvious element of communicating with your customers, but, really, communications include every time you talk to your customers and every time they try to talk with you. While a large part of communication is advertising, you need to evaluate every point of communication with your customers.

Some of the non-advertising communications you should evaluate include your billing documents, receipts, the experience of calling your business on the phone, handling a customer service issue or walking into your store. The strength of the small business is that you can give thought to every experience your customers have with you and your company. Making beneficial changes to non-advertising communications with your customers is usually inexpensive and can make a big difference to the bottom line.

New isn’t always better.

I know many small businesses feel the need to try out new and various ways of advertising, and they spend a lot of money trying to find “what works.” But you don’t have to guess, and you don’t need to listen to high-pressure sales pitches. You can evaluate every new advertising opportunity with the question, “Will this be meaningful to my customers?” By making all communications customers have with you meaningful, you will be able to stretch your marketing budget further and with more success.

Microsoft, why do you insult your customers?

Although Microsoft is a popular punching bag, I actually think they create many good products. Bing is a beautiful search engine; Microsoft Office is indispensable. But they can’t advertise. They just don’t have the knack for it.

In their latest set of commercials, they very subtly insult their own customers. Observe as Crystal imagines herself to be a sparkling beauty queen:

Microsoft’s intended message: Windows 7 is so easy to use that everyone can appreciate it.

Microsoft’s actual message: Silly customers! You live in a fantasy world of glittery eyes and self-importance!

The secret to humor in advertising is that the customer should not be the butt of the joke. Modern customers have high opinions of themselves and their abilities. Mocking them will never influence them to buy your products.

I’m a Mac person myself, but I hear from developers that Windows 7 really is easier to use than past versions. Many people will probably upgrade due to this word of mouth. It’s a shame that Microsoft’s own advertising can’t complement this effort.