Stop! Your marketing strategy is showing

Lady with Knickers Showing CartoonIt’s the business equivalent of going out with your skirt tucked in.

That time when your marketing efforts are so obviously focussed on a single goal, you fail to leave anything to the customer’s imagination.

And instead of joining in, your customers just feel pity that your sorry attempts to steer them towards your business objective have failed so badly.

DeVere Group Hotels seems to be falling into this trap rather regularly. Despite being one of their customers, all they seem to want me to do is show how much I ‘like’ them on Facebook. And if I do I could win a stay in one of their hotels. Or a £50 spot prize every week. Or a prize. Did we mention the prizes?

Sometimes they invite people to complete a survey, as explained on the business cards and billboards dotted around their hotels. But you can only enter the survey after first giving them a ‘like’ on Facebook:


Other times, they send out aesthetically-challenged emails, enticing people in with more special prizes. All you have to do is give them a ‘Like’ on Facebook:

 De Vere email

So that’s four mentions of ‘like’ in a single email.

It’s akin to hearing the least popular kid at school pleading for someone to be friends with them.

This isn’t how marketing is supposed to work. Where’s the creativity, where the mystery and intrigue?

When your hidden agenda is glaringly conspicuous, can you really expect those customers who comply to feel good about themselves? Or will they just feel used and abused?

But, maybe it works. If your measure of success is counting the number of people who follow your desperate cries for help, then perhaps it does work. A quick glance at De Vere Hotels’ Facebook page shows a sharp jump in the number of likes, averaging around 2,000 new likes per week, although dipping slightly recently:

De Vere Hotels Facebook stats

That’s nice. And what’s the value of 5,106 likes? Sadly, if they’ve all been collected through short term prize incentives that demonstrate no long-term loyalty or affinity to the brand their value is zero. Nothing. Nada. The square root of FA.

5,106 likes is nothing more than puffery and noise, something for a misguided brand manager to crow about to distract the rest of the business from the fact that they’ve been abusing the trust customers have placed in them.

However well-intentioned, this approach to social media marketing is neither wise nor effective. Yes, there’s a possibility that De Vere Group may have some brilliant plan up its sleeve to ignite this new community into a passionate army of influencers that will transform their business. But, as yet, there’s no evidence of anything more than an ill-judged social networking land grab taking place before our eyes.

Marketing in a real-time, two-way world doesn’t have to be this shallow. If your strategy bears any resemblance to that of De Vere Hotels Group, now would be a very good time to change.

About Allister Frost

I'm a marketer who helps companies adapt and grow in our digital world. This site is the place where I share my thoughts about marketing, how it's evolving and what great marketers are doing. Let me know what you think.

Posted on November 26, 2012, in Digital Marketing, Social Media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. This is so true, someone gets fixated on something, in the example above “likes” and the sole focus of all effort is then that, it is liek they have an itch to scratch or a number to hit.

    What about engagement with me on my platform? What about just some engagement? Some relationship and perish the thought some focus on outcome. Loved your label of “puffery and noise” superb!

    Keep up the good work my friend.

    Best wishes,


    The Linked In Man

  2. Good point Allister. I suspect that a lot of these “Like” grabs – with no real idea of how to engage with fans once they’ve expressed their interest – is a result of marketing departments struggling to to try to measure interest in their brand via Social Media.

    I think engagement is a much better (and more effective) metric to use, but it’s also harder to measure – so it’s often easier to count “Likes” as a measure of success.

    • Thanks Richard! Sadly ‘Likes’ is a lousy proxy for engagement, brand affinity or propensity to buy. The measurement piece is getting easier but it’s still far from perfect.

%d bloggers like this: