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Read the marketing horror stories, download our marketing monsters, and let us see your masterpieces.


We will be putting your skills to the test, submit your best designs by November 2nd @ 12pm EST. The contest winners will receive a free item from our shop.

1) Download & print your favorite monster(s)
2) Color & create your masterpiece
3) Make sure you like & follow Digital Radar on Facebook & Instagram Take a photo & tag Digital Radar and use #MarketingMonsters

You can submit as many entries as you like. Don’t forget to share the fun with all of your friends!

When you’re done, make sure to tag us on Facebook and Instagram, using #MarketingMonsters, so we can show off your work to the world!
 

Marketing Horror Stories…


It was a dark and stormy night, when I heard a knock at the front door. “Who is it?”, I shouted.

No answer.

I heard a knock again...this time louder. I slowly walked over and looked through the peephole on my front door. There was no one there. Suddenly, I heard a BANG, but it wasn’t coming from my front door, it was coming from inside the house!

...But I am home alone…

We’ve all heard it before; the cliche horror stories and the familiar and likely tropes that inhabit each one. Sure these stories can elicit some fear in us, but as a business owner, you know that nothing can keep you up at night quite like the fear of wasting time and money for no return. When you put as much sweat, (blood?), and tears into a business as you have, it’s easy to feel like the success of the business reflects personally onto you. With so many different plates that you need to keep balanced, why have anything else to stress about?

Read the horror stories from well known brands that had marketing gone wrong, and our tips and tricks on how to effectively execute a marketing strategy.

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Content Zombie

An ironic content disaster, shrouded in mystery and fear.

In 2014 Malaysia Airlines experienced two devastating occurrences only 4 months apart. In March of that year, flight 370 completely vanished, leaving the entire world to speculate and wonder what had happened--still never to be found. And in July, Flight 17 was shot down by a Russian missile, killing 234 passengers, and 15 of the crew. It was horrific, and the media was in a frenzy. In a swift attempt to recover from the devastation, Malaysia Airlines decided to host a contest in hopes to regain positive recognition from consumers. The contest launched was named “The Ultimate Bucket list”, where entrants would name what and where they wanted to check something off their bucket list; the winner would get a seat on an upcoming flight. While this may seem like a clever PR stunt, it probably wasn’t the best idea to associate death in anyway toward their airline after what had happened earlier that year.

How to avoid such a colossal content mistake:

1. Use social listening to understand your customer’s needs and concerns. Pay attention to what consumers are saying about your business and about your competitors. In order to get their attention and trust, your content needs to match their tone. It needs to understand the pain points, and offer solutions.

2. Create a strategy based on data, not an a hunch. The only way to truly optimize and convert is to create content based on solid market data. Tweaking a sentence or changing the color of a call to action button can have a significant impact, but in order to know what works better you’ll need to research and test what works best for your audience.

3. Humanize your brand to bring relatability. The power of inbound marketing is now more important than ever. Consumers want to be talked to, not talked at. By humanizing your brand, you meet your customers where they are, and ultimately become more trustworthy.

4. The quality of the content is more important than the quantity. This idea ties in to SEO as well, and can also increase search engine rankings. When you write quality content that people actually use, it not only converts better for you business, but creates better relationships with your customers. Having a ton of content that isn’t useful won’t keep people coming back.

Malaysia Airlines promotes an “Ultimate Bucket List Contest”

Brand Frankenstein

A Horror story about rebranding, and what we can learn from others mistakes:

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If “The Shack” isn’t the perfect name for a horror story, I don’t know what is. What sort of nefarious activities are happening in there you might wonder? I’ve heard it said, that on a quiet fall night, if you listen carefully... you can almost hear the screams of over 1,700 retail stores as they die off one by one.

When Radio Shack decided to ditch its outdated brand in 2009, and position themselves as the hot modern technology hub, “The Shack”, it nearly destroyed them. Rebranding can be expensive and time-consuming, and if not done strategically it can be detrimental to a company. For instance, RadioShack spent nearly all of its $200 million ad budget on this rebrand, and revenue still went down by 13% from the previous year. So what did they do wrong, and what can we learn from their mistakes when deciding to give our own companies a face-lift?

Take-away tips and tricks for a successful rebrand:

1. Name changes aren’t a solid solution to gaining customers. Typically if your brand is falling behind in keeping up with the times, such as how Radio Shack was, there needs to be a shift within the company itself. Radio Shack was known for it’s lousy customer services and inflated prices, so it would have been more effective to confront internal issues and refocus on that. Besides, name changes are confusing to customers.

2. Don’t rebrand for yourself, rebrand for your customers. I think that we can all agree that Radio Shack is the ideal “dad” store. It has specific gadgets and obscure parts that are difficult to find at big box stores like Best Buy, so they satisfy a very specific niche. If the store wouldn’t have been so concerned with their own image, and focused on satisfying their customers needs, the brand may have saved themselves a lot of heartache.

3. Don’t try to market to everyone. This may seem counterintuitive, but it is critical when developing a voice for your brand. It goes back to the old adage, when you appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one. When you think about selling your products or services you may be thinking, “well I want everyone to buy from me and love what I provide”. That’s understandable, but not only will it cost you loads more to go that route, but by narrowing your target market you can actually increase ROI significantly.

4. Figure out what you stand for. Simon Sinek said it best, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. The best way to brand, or rebrand yourself is to ask yourself why you are doing what you’re doing. Sure, the money is important, but I bet you didn’t get into this because of the paycheck. Maybe you want to help struggling entrepreneurs, or reduce a city’s carbon emission. Or maybe you are simply passionate about helping others feel good. Whatever it is, let that be a strong driver in how your brand is designed and reflected.

Radio Shack Becomes “The Shack

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UX Ghost

Facebook is a website with over one billion users, so it’s safe to say that you have probably heard of it. In fact, you might even be using it right now. There’s been a lot of discussion around Facebook’s privacy after the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, but today we will be focusing only on the UX (user experience) of the platform and how that played a role . It may seem a bit odd that such an outrage was necessary to change a simple privacy setting in the business, but then again that may be the point. With how easy it is to “troll” and to share or create posts, many users find themselves agonizing over the search engines just to find the function they need. It’s hard to find the setting, it’s hard to find what we want changed, and when we get there it’s hard to understand if the option we have selected is even working in our favor.

Learn from Facebook’s mistakes:

1. Make Your call to action and user functions clear. On Facebook for instance, many options look alike. Others are unclear, and then there are options that some are afraid of moving the mouse too close to for fear that they may share something unsavory. This should go without saying, but when a user is afraid to use or avoids certain pages, you’re doing something wrong.

2. Optimize for mobile use. According to Statista, 49.7 percent of people use mobile when conducting searches. On the mobile version of Facebook, the multiple message box feature only is displayed in a way that only adds to the confusion. There’s an inbox for messages from people in your friend list, there’s an inbox for those who are not your friends, and then there’s another inbox for filtered messages. And to make matters worse they are all in different places. I’ll admit, as tech savvy as I am, I still struggle with finding the correct message on facebook mobile.

3. Test Your design. Users know within 3 seconds whether or not they want to stay on your page. With such a short retention time, it is vital that you make your website clear and navigable. Use the five second test to see how your site stacks up, and pay attention to scroll tracking analytics to see how people are using your page.

4. Create an empathic design. What types of features is most important to your user? Make sure that you understand your brand’s audience by walking in their shoes and including those qualities on your site. Maybe you need to add more dynamic images or interactivity to create a captivating experience.

The UX Facebook Horror Story
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SEO Mummy

Blackhat tactics and greedy dealings are a good way to get shut down.

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Overstock.com was already ranking in the top spots on Google, but decided that they needed to dominate the market in spot number one. It’s a good goal to have...if it’s done correctly. Google considers .edu extensions of particularly high authority, so the Utah company decided to leverage that knowledge by soliciting colleges and universities to post links back to overstock.com in exchange for a discount on merchandise for faculty and students. When Google caught wind of what they were doing, they were almost immediately shot down to the 5th or 6th page, which is essentially death by SEO standards.


A few tips on how to rank better and not upset the Google gods:

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It is possible to buy backlinks to your website--and we all know that the more quality links that your site has, the better it ranks-- but the emphasis here is on quality.

2. Google is scary smart, and if your site all of a sudden has an inordinate amount of links that aren’t related or of quality, you will be penalized. So, make sure that you do your research or just stick to organic links.

3. Don’t be discouraged by not being number one in a day. Creating quality content and backlinks takes time. If you want to be at the top of the page faster, hire a Google ad consultant. (p.s. We know a great one!)

Content is King, and backlinks are Queen. Make sure that your content is being created for people, not for search engines.

4. Use keywords. A common misconception is that the more you use the specific keyword that you want to rank for in your content, the better off you’ll be. This is false, keyword stuffing is frowned upon by the Google Gods. The best way to do this is to include keywords in your headlines, alt attributes, and url. As long as the body copy is relevant, Google will understand.

Overstock.com Trades Discounts on Merchandise for Links

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Social Dracula

How to use social media etiquette correctly to avoid epic mistakes.

Social Media can be a great way to connect with consumers, share your thoughts on a current event, or lend support to a worthy cause. But with so many benefits there are also pitfalls you want avoid. If you're not careful, you can easily land your brand in hot water. Choosing your moment and making sure not to offend anyone can be tricky, sometimes it can downright... suck. (mwahaha)

One prime example of sucky social media marketing is the way Cinnabon chose to mourn the passing of media icon, Carrie Fisher. Cinnabon took to Twitter and posted a picture with the caption, “RIP Carrie Fisher, you’ll always have the best buns in the galaxy.” Though it was probably meant as a compliment, many people were quite angry at the tactless nature of the post. The whole catastrophe could have been avoided had they followed some simple social media marketing tips.

Social Media Etiquette to keep in mind:

1. Choose your moment. Think about when you will be sharing your post. Is it too soon or too long after the event/news? Waiting too long, or jumping the gun to show support, or share your thoughts on an event can be just as dangerous as posting the wrong thing.

2. Do your research when it comes to hashtags. We can't stress this enough! Before you jump on a hashtag bandwagon make sure you do your research. Using a hashtag just because you like it or think it relates to your content can create a negative outcome; make sure you know what it means. And using the wrong Hashtag at the wrong time can definitely offend people or make you seem insensitive.

3. Think before you tweet. Not enough people and brands heed this advice, but they should ‘cause it is a seriously good one. Ask yourself some questions before you hit send on any social media platform. Does this add value to my brand and my consumers lives? Will this be taken the wrong way or possibly offend consumers? Is this the right time or right cause to post about?

4. Be sensitive. Just because you think it’s funny or worthwhile doesn't mean someone else won't take it the wrong way. Obviously, you can't please everyone but once you post something it's out there forever, and going viral isn't always a good thing. If you post something as a joke but others won't find it funny, you probably shouldn't put it out into the world.

Cinnabon Takes Their Buns Too Far

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Correctly using Google Ads can make or break a campaign.

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There’s nothing more bone chilling than unintentionally driving away customers. When investing in pay per click marketing, it is essential to properly set your campaigns for success in order to avoid horrific results. Folger’s shows us a prime example of display ad targeting gone wrong! While attempting to share Folgers Simply Smooth coffee blend with the world, improper ad campaign targeting leads potential customers to be more concerned with coffee’s health hazards rather than the tasty new blend. Mistakes like these can land even the most creative campaigns six feet under, here’s a few tips to make your campaign a success.

The top takeaways from Folger’s faux pas:

1. Double check & Triple check your work. When you are in control of a marketing budget, one small mistake can lead to a colossal disaster. Make sure that before you turn a campaign live, you have configured all of the settings correctly and that it is the way you designed it to be... then TRIPLE CHECK IT!

2. Don’t be annoying. Use frequency capping when using an ad exchange. This limits the amount of impressions that can serve to a unique individual. You don’t want to leave a bad taste attached to your brand by bombarding a user with ads. Anywhere from 2-3 a day is best.

3. Google cares about people. The Google search network is designed in a way that benefits the consumer, not the advertiser. To be effective, you must show the customer what they actually want to see. One of the primary reasons for this is the backend system allocates points based on relevance known as quality score. The better the quality score, the less you can pay and the higher your ad can show in search.

4. Always set up conversion tracking. Google Ads is such a powerful tool to help grow a business because of how measurable and actionable the data available is. By setting up tracking for the things that are valuable to your company, you are laying the foundation to utilize the data that you receive. Clicks are nice but how many phone calls are you getting from your efforts?

Folger’s Has A Poorly Placed Display Ad

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Wicked Research Witch

In the mid 1970’s Gerber noticed the millions of single college students and adults, and saw the potential of this untapped market. They figured that the best way to get in front of these consumers would be to create a low cost, simply packaged single serving meal--not unlike the baby food they had been selling so well for the previous 50 years--designed for adults. The meals had flavors that would demand excitement from the market, such as mediterranean vegetables and beef burgundy. If they had done a little more market research they probably would have found that bottled meat mush wasn’t a product that young singles were rushing to buy.

What can we learn about conducting effective market research:

1. Be Flexible. As much as we want to believe that we understand our customers, sometimes your market research may surprise you. Be flexible and willing to shift your marketing plan to meet the wants and needs of your consumer.

2. Have a market led strategy, not a product led strategy. Gerber singles is the prime example of a product led strategy. They created a market that may appeal to a product, rather than a product that appealed to the market. Understanding your targets wants and needs will always remain the best practice for creating a strategy.

3. Identify clear objectives before any research begins. If you don’t know what your goal is, you won’t know what questions to be asking.

4. Collect secondary and primary research. Secondary research is any information or data that you can find online, and will give you the big picture of your market. But primary research, the data that you collect yourself can give you specific images within that big picture. You can do this through surveys, focus groups, and census collection.

Gerber Creates Baby Food For Adults

Good Analytics Witch

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Analytics is a powerful tool that can bring about deep customer insights to magically help craft campaigns. However, when analytics is not used properly, it can bring terrifying results. Pinterest displays an example of this when they accidentally sent out emails to users who had pinned wedding ideas to their profiles. The email was congratulating them on their upcoming weddings with a coupon for invitations. Being able to track and identify which users have pinned wedding related posts to their boards is wonderful, but in this case, many of these women were not engaged to be married and were very offended by this gesture. Understanding analytics and the best way to utilize and execute your findings appropriately is essential.

Understanding how to utilize analytics is key to creating a strong marketing plan:

Be organized. This is the foundation for everything you’re going to do.

No matter what you focus on first, SEO, PPC, CRO, or any other three-letter acronym, you’re going to want to know you’re working with the correct data. In Google Analytics it is not possible to recover lost data by a misconfiguration, that is why it is important to follow a few best practices in your views and protect your data.

Troubleshoot tracking. Once you have set up your goals, the next step is to test and make sure they are firing correctly and on the right page. Use the real time reporting column and do a walk-through of your goal to determine whether they are online and tracking in the way you want them to.

Utilize insights. Analytics shows us just about everything in regards to how a user interacts with a brand on all their channels. By examining the path a prospect takes to reach the goal, we can determine the most common channel groupings and which mediums have the greatest effect accomplishing this.

Know your audience. Once we have the data available to analyze we start to build out an audience profile. From there, we may be able to tie down specifics. For example, it will show that your primary target market are males, age 25 - 34, who are news junkies and active readers, with a household income of below 80k, and primarily use their mobile device in California. With that kind of narrowed information, we can align our marketing efforts in such a way that allows us to tailor our focus toward a direct demographic.


There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to formulating the perfect marketing strategy for your business.

An ideal strategy takes the perfect blend of each of these monsters to create one big idea that will propel your your business forward. That may seem like a lot to look at, and not enough time in the day to execute. But don’t let that scare you!


Print out the monsters. Color them, and Share them up by your desk as a reminder of these tips and tricks when writing a marketing plan. And if you’d like a little more help, reach out so we can talk strategy for your business.


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