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27 Things Brands Do that Piss Me Off

October 2016

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a good rant, so here are 27 things brands do that really piss me off.


1. Telling me your email unsubscribe will take 2-3 weeks to process.


No, it takes 2-3 seconds. If it does literally take you 2–3 weeks, I probably don’t want to do business with you. Your company is too manual.


2. Making me fill out a resume just to download an eBook.


My email and first name are enough. If I like you, I’ll gladly give you more info. Later. By the way? If your eBook is from the Hubspot library—but with your cover on it—I’ve seen it, thanks.


3. Forcing a live chat popup on every page.


If I closed it on the first 17 pages, it’s a safe bet that I don’t need to speak to your sales staff on the 18th page. OK? Great…


4. Marketing without a strategy.


Oh. My. God. Everything needs a strategy to succeed. Football teams (actually all team sports) have strategies to win. Why don’t you? Architects provide blueprints to ensure a build goes swimmingly. Why don’t you insist on wireframes to ensure your website is flawless? News editors use a content calendar. Why don’t you?


5. Posting the same content on every single social platform.


If you’re a brand I follow, it’s likely I follow you on more than one channel, so I really don’t need to see the same post in six places on one day. That makes me unfollow your brand. ASAP.


6. Sending out emails titled, “Oops! We had a mistake in our last email.”


I understand this is a tactic to get people to rush to see what happened. But when you tell me about the mistakes you make in something as simple as an email, I question your firm’s QA process, your attention to detail, and your ability to service my brand effectively.


7. Sending me a “personal” email that was clearly blasted out to the masses.


Chris Brogan got one of these recently. It was so bad, they forgot to change the variable that inserts their name. Embarrassing. If you send out mass emails, don’t pretend they aren’t. Everyone can see right through it. If you have something worthwhile to say, we’ll read it.


8. Saying, “We hired you because you’re the expert here,” and then doing the exact opposite of the recommendation.


Would you hire a mechanic and then say, “I know you said our car needed a new transmission, but we’ll buy a loud radio to drown out the sound instead.” No, you wouldn’t. That would be stupid and a waste of money. So would ignoring an expert’s advice. But some uneducated clients actually think marketers aren’t “real” experts. Insanity.


9. Exclaiming your company, “is just like Apple.”


No, it isn’t. You’re not them. You aren’t inventing new technology sectors, nor do you produce a product with a cult following. Just stop.


10. #Writing #tweets #in #all #hashtags.

#No. #Just. #Stop.


11. Not allowing comments on your company blog.


Seriously? It’s 2016. If all you wanted was a useless press release page, go make one. We’d prefer you understand the importance of one-on-one conversations with your customers.


12. Basing your entire marketing plan on how your CEO’s child uses her laptop/gaming device.


She is not the entire country. Focus group of one. One is not data. It’s anecdotal.

13. Attending one marketing conference and suddenly you’re an expert.


It takes years of hands-on work to become an expert at anything. Quoting the theories or best-sellers of others doesn’t make you an expert—it makes you a parrot.


14. Telling me how glad you are that I attended your webinar.


When I didn’t. That’s just sloppy. If you can’t tell the difference between the people you invited and the ones actually showed up, you need serious marketing help. And a remedial math class.


15. Not linking to all of your social channels on your website.


I’ve been in dozens of meetings where I heard (usually a mid-level manager) something like, “We don’t get much engagement out of [name a social channel].” Perhaps if you let customers know you have an account, you might. Just a thought.


16. Spending so much time editing and approving a post that it’s no longer timely.


Social media moves fast. That means your approval process needs to change to keep up with the times. See Oreo, Taco Bell and Old Spice for examples of companies that have figured this out. Or get left behind. Your call.


17. Obsessing over your competitors.


Sure, you need to know what they are up to. That’s smart. Copying their every move? Nope. You’re just making the same mistakes they are. For all you know they could be sitting in their war rooms saying, “Well that bombed.” Then you go an copy it, you rocket scientist, you.


18. Believing you have no competitors, or not knowing who they really are.


Have you ever interviewed a panel of customers? Ever asked them who they think your competitors are? It can be humbling to find your “premium” brand matched up with the low-cost guy. Perception is everything. Who you think your competitors are is not who your customers think they are, and that means you may have your messaging and audience all wrong.


19. Too many cooks in the kitchen.


Ever heard of “Assigning a champion?” Know why it’s important? Because when you give everyone a vote, assuming that all votes are equally informed and important, you slow your process, invite unwanted arguments, and cause rifts between your silos divisions.


20. Not letting anyone know your process/ingredients/inner workings.


Hiding information in the age of Google, WikiLeaks, the Dark Web, what have you, is silly. Everything can be found if one is persistent enough. Companies that give away their processes are more trusted. Companies that don’t are seen with suspicion. Besides, just because you’ve shown someone how, doesn’t mean they can or will. People are lazy. This is also why so few entrepreneurs are successful.


21. Constant posting because some marketer/SEO nut told you it was mandatory.


While it’s true Google and Bing reward frequent publishers, there is a catch. A big catch. It has to be high-quality content that people read and share. Period. Don’t have much to say about your brake pad business? Don’t. Publish when you do have something to say. Don’t fill the internet with fluff.


22. Not telling me what it is you do when I get to your site.


There is a simple test usability experts do. We open a laptop in front of a user who has never seen your site. They are given exactly five seconds to look at the site and we slam the lid on them. Then they are asked to recall everything they saw and what they took away from the viewing. Why five seconds? That’s the amount of time the average user looks at your site before deciding to bail.


23. Using PDFs on your site when a simple webpage would do.


Many companies believe that all of their customers just can’t wait to download their content in Pdf format. Months later, they notice that no one downloads them. Hint: Stop it.


24. Ignoring the audience you have in favor of an imagined audience you want.


This is a favorite tactic of newly-appointed CMOs. If you have a dedicated audience—congratulations. Help them love you. Don’t neglect them in favor of an audience you neither have nor deserve. You’ll only alienate both.


25. Believing your audience is not on social media, smartphones, etc.


Yes, they are. It’s you that aren’t. Luddite? Party of one?


26. Not wanting to pay for QA.


Fine. Let your site/app/social media post go live with typos, wrong dates, incorrect addresses and broken links. Cool by me. It’s only your reputation.


27. Assuming everyone uses the computer exactly like you do.


No, they really don’t. Older people sit up close and carefully read everything. Younger folks sit way back, often laying down while browsing, causing them to miss small details. People with blindness, cataracts, dyslexia, color blindness, repetitive stress injuries and a whole host of other disabilities do not see the Web the way you do. And guess what? There are 65 million Americans that fit this bill. Ignore them at your own peril. I always say to clients, “Would you knowingly want to disallow Steven Hawking from your site? No? Then you need to look into accessibility so all of your visitors can have a comparable experience. Not just your golf buddies.

If your firm makes any one or more of these mistakes, you need a competent marketing firm to help you out. Like Element5. We’re really good at helping brands easier to find, use and remember. Talk to us.


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