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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Vapourware marketing

This image from Derek Siver's blog says that counting on even one per cent marketing reach may be folly. Many marketing initiatives result in no return. Beware of "vaporware marketing".

Derek Sivers, in a blog posting referenced by Seth Goldin, wrote about a musician who pressed 10,000 CDs, expecting a flood of orders from his quarter-page ad in a magazine with a circulation of one million. The musician assumed if he could attract just one per cent of the magazine's readers, his mailbox would be full, within a week.

The musician received four orders.

Experienced marketers know the folly of the musician's mistake; notably, don't pin all your hopes in a single ad and certainly don't spent significant amounts of money without checking and testing first. The musician might have had much better luck if he had received a raving review in the magazine or set up some "trial by Internet" system where people could hear his work. Or, as commenters remarked, the musician could have succeeded, slowly, by playing at local gigs and selling a few CDs at a time.

Seth Godin notes that the "long tail"; (see my review of Chris Anderson's book here) -- the great collection of small purchases and tiny niches possible within the Internet, still has a bottom limit. If no one buys, even if it costs a tiny amount to sell, you still have nothing. An if you spend a small fortune on marketing for minimal return, you are worse off than if you did nothing -- unless you persevere and learn from your experience.

This brings forward my next point. A few days ago I saw an ad on someone else's site promoting a contractor marketing service. I clicked on the ad, and (not surprisingly) received the free e-book offer in exchange for my email.

The book, not professionally set up, offered useful advice but nothing earth-shattering. That's okay, I suppose when it comes construction industry marketing, I "know it all" (I really don't.)

Not surprisingly, again, I am now on this marketer's autorespond list promoting his lead-generation program.

But I have my doubts about how much he is really selling (and has sold) and whether he has just bought someone else's package and is repurposing it. searches take me to what I expect is a residential address in the Eastern U.S., and what appears to be some sort of inactive condo service business with an email address whose emails bounce.

I smell vapourware . . . that is someone putting something up for sale which he hasn't really validated or proven through first hand experience and results. I believe he will be disappointed about the response he actually receives and his own marketing budget will go into the "zero return" space.

(Note I will continue to try to track him down, and if the news is actually good, share it with you. If not, I will write a follow-up report without, as is my policy, identifying the marketer. As a rule, this blog does not publish negative reports naming specific individuals or businesses.)

Then does any marketing work? Of course -- but please use some common sense before believing any claims.

Check credentials with real references. If you are working with someone or something new, this is okay, but expect limited results and ensure you don't pay for effort without results.

Most times, if you expect people to give you money, they will need to form a relationship with you, validated by relationships with others they know. In other words, you need an environment where you can achieve social validity and word-of-mouth referrals to back up your marketing activities.

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