3 spooky strategies that still haunt us

There's a whole bunch of old marketing strategies based on cheating around the system, or not doing the "job" for real. Here we have listed three approaches that are still haunting workflows but really need to die.

Buying engagement: Lazy ways to try and cheat the bots

To boost Google ranking on search engines, it was trendy to buy lots of cheap and meaningless links from sites that only exist to increase ranking. Back then, it was all about quantity and not quality. The more links you had to your site, the better for your ranking became.

You could also add keywords on your own site, for example, loaded invisibly in white text against a white background – for the bots to find.

It was all about quantity over quality approach to SEO. The old idea that “the more followers on social media, the better” was the extension to this bad habit. But today, it’s engagement in the form of comments and likes that makes social media successful. Not just the follower base.

In fact, you will often be penalised by the platforms (Google, Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) if you use these cheats. So just don’t. Work on making stuff that real humans want to see and interact with.

Pinkwashing: Reward for nothing 

We all know the concept of ‘greenwashing’ today – when organisations try to appear more environmentally conscious than they actually are.

Pinkwashing is similar. It’s when organisations signal their support to LGBTQ++ community, without doing anything to help the cause of sexual equality. Often this is done in the context of the Pride movement. When brands hoist the rainbow flag or replace their logo to score some easy points. If your organisation doesn’t do things to drive the movement 365 days a year, or contribute to the cause in another way, then it’s time to rethink.

Instead, start working in a more active way working for an inclusive society rather than just collecting high-fives during Pride month.

Matching luggage: The same thing goes everywhere

In an old-school marketing strategy, channel execution was a last-minute consideration. Back then, an advertising campaign or an idea was developed and would then be trumpeted in all channels of the brand, without variation in tonality or withdrawal. It was like matching luggage. TV and print were kings, and everything else mindlessly rolled out from that.

Now, many impactful campaigns happen in all the other places – and often not in TV and print. They’re social, or short-form videos, like Instagram stories. 

But is the nasty old non-strategy of blasting the same look, feel and message everywhere still being used? Unfortunately, yes. Fortunately, we see just as often smart campaigns where both audience analysis and channel selection have been allowed to go first. 

It’s a new world where execution is customised to surprise and delight in the context of that particular channel. It might take a bit more time and a lot more thinking, but it’s almost always more exciting and much more effective.

They’re all misleading

The one thing these three ghosts of the past all have in common is that they all try and mislead your audience.

Lazy links fool people into thinking content is better than it is because it ranks highly in search. Pinkwashing is misleading your audience into thinking you’re more active than you are in the LGBTQ++ community. And executing a campaign everywhere is misleading your audience into thinking something is worthy of their attention. 

So…

Life is short. Start doing work that you’re more proud of that really respects the time and attention of your audience. It might be a bit more work, but it’s worth it.