Sometimes, I think the best marketing advice I can give someone is: Before you say it, do it, print it, record it or announce it, find a way to see it from your customers’ point of view.

Many times, we get so caught up in our own world that we make the false assumption that everyone in the world sees and experiences things exactly as we do. When I say it that way, you shake your head and say, “No, I recognize that there are many different viewpoints.” Intellectually that may be true, but when you’re scrambling to get some marketing element done and out there, you very quickly forget that reality.

Let me give you a few examples:

When your voice mail system invites me to hit zero at any time to talk to a real, live human being, do not send my calls to someone’s voice mail. Let me talk to a human. Technology should make it easier to talk to you, not more difficult.

When I unsubscribe to your e-newsletter, do not take me to your sales page. Take me to a page that confirms that I’ve unsubscribed. I want to be reassured that you got my message, not pitched a product.

When I interrupt your uninvited sales call with a polite, “I’m not interested,” don’t keep talking. Gracefully accept my answer and say goodbye. If you aren’t good at cold calling, don’t do it unless you want to alienate the prospect.

Are you shaking your head at the silly people who do the above? You would never do something so dumb, right? How about any of these:

When I walk into your store, don’t have your salespeople swarm me from all angles, talking to me about everything I touch. There’s a fine line between helpful and hovering. Most salespeople have not been taught the difference.

When you send out a media release, don’t call or email the reporters to see if they got it. If they want to cover the story, they’ll call you. Just because you think it’s news doesn’t mean they have to agree.

When you get new fans/followers on social media, don’t send them a bunch of direct messages or sales pitches. Ask them questions, share helpful tips and be interested in them.  Social isn’t for sales; it’s for helping/sharing.

When people sign up for your helpful e-book, cheat sheet or infographic, don’t follow that up with an email inviting them to speak to a salesperson. That’s like going from “Can I buy you a drink” to “Will you marry me” in five minutes. Cultivate a lead by being so valuable and helpful that they can’t imagine not having access to you before you put your hand in their pocket.

I’ve personally been the victim of every one of the blunders I just listed, and I am betting that you have too. Bad marketing is everywhere, and much of it boils down to bad manners.  Honestly, I think all of them could have been avoided if the marketing team had simply said to themselves, “Would I want to be treated this way?”  

Marketing should always be created with the prospect in mind. Ask yourself these questions before you launch anything.

Will our audience:

- Find this useful/helpful?
- Be inspired or encouraged by this?
- Feel like we understand them and their world?
- Pass this on to someone else?
- Learn something or be reminded of something important?
- See a new opportunity or a solution to a challenge they’re having?
- Be grateful we communicated this?

If you can’t answer yes to all or most of those questions, then ask this final question:

Why would I think this would be effective?