What not to do with your marketing

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What not to do with your marketing

Marketing and advertising your brand can help to get your story out there, attract new clients and increase sales. However, sometimes an advert or campaign can get you noticed for all the wrong reasons.

If you’re using marketing channels to raise awareness about your business, don’t fall foul of these faux pas.

A matter of fact

John Lewis launched its new ‘Let Life Happen’ advert in October 2021, promoting its Home Insurance product. The ad featured a young boy wearing his mum’s lipstick and clothes, as he danced around the house to the tune of Stevie Nicks ‘The Edge of Seventeen’. Kicking his shoes off and hitting ornaments, smearing paint on walls, as well as knocking some on the floor, throwing glitter around, he caused havoc as he went.

While at first glance, the ad might seem fun and light-hearted, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found it to be “potentially misleading and confusing”. This was down to the fact that John Lewis’ accident damage cover is available as an add-on to its Home Insurance product, rather than as standard, and only covers accidental and not deliberate damage.

As a result, the retail giant pulled the advert. It also contacted every customer who bought a policy during the dates that the advert aired to make sure they understood its inclusions and exclusions and check if they were happy with it.

Before any adverts or marketing drives go live, make sure your facts are correct and check that nothing could be misleading or interpreted in a different way by a regulator or customer. It’s worth getting a few pairs of eyes on your ads and campaigns to be extra certain that your message is crystal clear.

Picture (not so) perfect

As the saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words. Using eye-catching imagery in your marketing can be a way to stop people in their tracks or during a scrolling session on social media.

You may see an image on Google, Instagram or Facebook that you feel will portray your message perfectly. It might be tempting to save a copy to use in a campaign. However, you could get caught out by copyright infringement.

After Stemtech Health Sciences, Inc. used microscopic photographer Andrew Paul Leonard’s bone marrow stem cell photos without permission on their website and in other marketing collateral, a court ruled in Leonard’s favour. He was awarded $1.6m (almost £1.2m) in damages.

There are sites out there, such as Canva, which have a bank of free images. Canva offers both free and paid subscriptions with more than 250k templates and 100+ designs to choose from, including social media posts, flyers and videos. It can be an easy, cost-effective way to make your marketing stand out.

If you choose to invest in a visual media platform like iStock, Getty Images or Shutterstock be careful of the images you choose. There are often editorial images on these sites, which are for use by newspapers, magazines and media outlets. They can’t, however, be used to advertise a product or service.

Use hashtags wisely

Hashtags are an important part of social media marketing. They can be used to target a specific audience, raise your brand’s awareness, boost your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or the organic reach of your posts, as well as allowing you to join in on trending topics.

If you’re coming up with a hashtag for a marketing campaign or event, always check what is trending at the time your social media posts are going live.

Unfortunately, this is something that US baked goods company, Entenmann’s, didn’t do. They Tweeted about not feeling guilty about eating tasty treats, using the hashtag #notguilty. However, the Tweet was ill-timed, as the #notguilty hashtag was trending that day as Casey Anthony was acquitted of murdering her two-year-old daughter. Entenmann’s apologised saying that their Tweet wasn’t referencing the trial and that they hadn’t checked what hashtags were trending.

Some hashtags that companies have used have gone viral because they’ve included an unfortunate double entendre. We’d advise reading any hashtags you create aloud a few times. It doesn’t harm to get one or two or even a few members of your team to read it out loud as well, as someone may hear something you haven’t.

When done right, marketing and advertising can be a great string to your business’ bow. However, if you’re ever in doubt, don’t post or publish