A Load of Rubbish


Rubbish bag Kotor Fortress

And here’s what rubbish normally looks like. (The pink is a bit of an extravagant touch but at least no visitor here has an excuse to litter).

And then there’s the other kind of rubbish.

The garbage which poses as ‘marketing’ these days. On Facebook. On search engine pages. On websites. On landing pages. On leaflets through the door. In emails. In sales letters. In magazines.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m not saying I’m “God’s gift” to marketing or copywriting. I’m not saying I have never had failures. I’m not saying there are words I’ve written in the past which today make me cringe with raspberry-tinged embarrassment.

But there is so little which REALLY stands out and makes you go wow!

I don’t watch as much telly as I used to but I do love the MoneySuperMarket TV ads. Bold, brash, memorable, consistent on brand and with viral-quality catchphrases. Are you feeling EPIC? If so, you are probably “So MoneySuperMarket”.

And my favourite of all time is still the series of ads for Smash instant mashed potato. You might have seen them in the 1970s or early 1980s – or on YouTube.

I can still remember the line from the Martian robot reporting back to his colleagues about how humans make their mashed potato. The tinny voice says “They peel them with their metal knives”… and then we hear how long it takes to boil the potatoes. Then they smash them. Clearly a “most primitive people”. Queue robots falling about with laughter.

And then the catchphrase. “For mash get Smash”. Simply brilliant.

It’s stayed with me for 40 years or so. That’s powerful TV.

But, as the late great Ronnie Corbett might say, I digress.

Let’s get back to rubbish…

And when I say a lot of marketing is rubbish, I’m really saying it’s either not very good or it feels as if the people behind it took no care over the presentation or the words. Almost as if “anything will do, let’s just fill the space with something”.

Take the online specialist furniture store which paid for adverts with google to promote it’s biggest ever sale.

Great job at getting found easily but when you click the ad to go to their website…

… they forgot to remind you that it was “Up to 70 per cent off”. Doh!

Another case of failing to get the message across appeared on a recent trip to Scotland.

There is obviously an issue with motorists throwing their litter out of their cars and lining the roadside with stuff which should be kept until it can be put in a bin or taken home.

How did the authorities warn drivers and encourage people to do the right thing?

They put up yellow sign boards along the side of the road at intermittent points along your journey.

Unfortunately, they forgot to double check the message before signing off to the painters or sign writers.

One sign said: “Picking up your litter puts road workers lives at risk”.

Just read that one again.

You can see what they were trying to say. If you drop litter out of your car it falls on the road side. Our workers have to come along and pick it up. When they work on the road side there is danger – because fast-moving traffic is passing by as they do their job.

What they meant to say was probably something like this. “Littering puts roadworkers lives at risk. Keep Scotland tidy.” Or “Keep Scotland beautiful. Take your litter with you”.

Then you have the marketers who send one of this country’s greatest ever copywriters and tell him that THEY can improve his marketing for him.

As the guy told me, these people just send out blanket promotions with no thought about their audience. They had not bothered to find out anything about him and with blindfold bliss just sent him the same message they were sending out to everyone else.

It’s all rubbish…

Is it because people are lazy? Is it because people just don’t know? Is it because they know but they don’t care enough or can be bothered enough to put some care and attention into it?

Only they can answer that. I have my suspicions.

Finally, let’s mention the website design company which also offer other web services…

The theme looked simple and a little bit behind modern trends.

The design was neat and simple – but the site was not the best showcase for what this business can do:

  • A lack of positioning in the market place with a “we serve everyone” approach
  • Mixed messages caused by the headline offer
  • Are they cheap, are they quality or are they claiming both? It’s not clear
  • Pathways to key pages are positioned BELOW the fold – need to be ABOVE
  • The copy is generic, standard, middle of the road. Little to excite the reader
  • A lazy bullet list of services with NO reasons why someone should buy
  • No testimonials or case studies (I know they have satisfied clients)
  • No fresh content or blog
  • No primary strongly featured call to action

Their website could be really good. Many of the issues relate to weak or ‘rubbish’ copy. Something a copywriter can tidy up relative ease.

You only have to ask.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *