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3 Major Marketing Disasters -- and What You Can Learn From Them

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on May 01, 2015 3:54 PM

There's plenty of bad advertising out there. Sometimes, though, bad spills over and becomes an outright disaster. The annals of advertising are full of campaigns gone wrong. Very, very wrong.

In the spirit of learning from others' mistakes, here's three major disasters -- and what you can do to avoid them in your own marketing:

Stay Away From Stunts

You might think it will get you more bang for your buck or help generate buzz, but stunt advertising rarely pays off. Aside from messing with costumers' expectations -- think New Coke -- stunt marketing is probably one of the second most common marketing disasters. There was the time Pepsi tried to up its sales in the Philippines by promising 1 million pesos to the consumer with the magic number, as found on the bottle's label. Too bad it accidentally printed that number 800,000 times. When they refused to pay out, they started riots.

Not that lawyer marketing is likely to lead to riots, but stunts still have a tendency to blow up in your face: ridiculous T.V. advertisements fall flat, offers of freebies or discounts get exploited, your guerrilla advertising campaign gets confused with terrorism.

Avoid Bad Taste

The problem with bad taste is that it's so often unrecognized by those possessing it. But diagnosed or not, bad taste can be a killer. Take, for example, the law firm that used a racist Asian caricature as their spokesman. Maybe they were believers in the "any press is good press" strategy, because their name certainly got out, but for all the wrong reasons. The firm later disavowed the ads, claiming that they were unauthorized and that someone had hacked their YouTube channel.

Don't be those guys. Have several eyes check out your marketing materials before they go out, and don't limit the previews to the yes men.

Pay Attention to Location

There's a reason newspapers don't run Exxon ads next to articles on oil spills. Or, at least, they shouldn't. Context can destroy your marketing efforts. For example, this Father's Day ad probably didn't bring in too many customers, placed as it was next to an article on spousal abuse. The giant "oops" adorning this hair color ad loses its appeal when set across from the headline "My sister accidentally killed herself."

Marketing placement needs to take into account more than just audience. If you're using online ads for your divorce practice, it's probably wise to make sure they don't run next to stories about planning your wedding. Not only is your audience not there, those who see the message could actually resent it. Depending on your budget and how much of a micro-manager you are, you may be well served by paying attention not just to the content of your marketing, but its context.

If you need help setting up your strategy, you can always talk to the experts at FindLaw lawyer marketing.

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