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Lent is traditionally time for taking stock and giving up a luxury or two.

Granted those luxuries are often delicious and food-based – although the really savvy amongst us will give up things they never really liked anyway (no Twiglets for me for a month).

However, during this short period of introspection, why not have a quick reality check and see if you’ve fallen into any bad marketing habits you might be better off kicking?

I’ve listed my top five below -  how do you fare?

1.    Talking to yourself

When we’re tasked day in, day out with using marketing to grow a brand, it’s very easy to forget that on the other side of every piece of communication is a living, breathing, easily-bored person – whether it’s a frenetic Solihull housewife or a yawning, yacht-owning oligarch.  

It’s always worth checking; are the things you’re asking them to engage with subjects they actually care about?

If you only talk about yourself, it’s only a matter of time until you’re left talking only to yourself, as your audience scatters to find someone who is genuinely trying to engage with them.

Every interaction is a value exchange, and if you’re focussed on your brand rather than your audience it’s unlikely you’re offering them much of value.

With more data than ever at our disposal it’s not hard to make sure your communications are properly tailored to chime with your audience’s interests, passions and consumption channels.

Don’t be that guy at the party with suspicious powder caked around his nose, babbling loudly about himself to the coat stand.


Take the time to segment your audience, build detailed profiles and talk to them about the things that matter to them.

Tailor your messages and your delivery channels. Show how you share your audience’s values and how you can enhance their lives.

Let the mask slip; be human. Be interesting. Be interested.

2.    Succumbing to information inertia.

You probably have a world of data at your fingertips (if you don’t, see below).

With the scope of big data increasing exponentially and GDPR looming on the horizon, making sense of it all can seem like a daunting task, leading to what top scientists probably haven’t termed “data procrastination”, or “information inertia”.

When faced with such a huge amount of variables it’s hard to know what to prioritise to begin making your comms more effective (and that’s assuming all the data is clean & reliable).

It’s probably easiest to carry on as normal, right?

Well, no.

It’s vital you don’t let your data overwhelm you or grow stale - using old data is like trying to navigate the M25 on a Penny Farthing using a 17th Century map.


Dive in. Be clear on what you need from your data and how it can best feed into your business objectives. Try and separate “good” data from noise.

Where data points are sparse, enrich your data by adding in first-party browsing behaviour or building lookalike segments.

Regularly review and cleanse your data (remembering roughly 4.7 million people move house each year), and make sure you’re up to speed with the GDPR regulations, as no-one wants to be fined 4% of their revenue!

3.    Creating content without a strategy

You’re not alone – in fact you’re with the majority! 56% of marketers admit to having no content strategy at all.

You’re forgiven. It’s totally understandable. In such a rapidly-moving world, it’s tempting to churn out content just to keep up; an Instagram video here, an infographic there - and it’s undeniably satisfying to look at a body of work you’ve created for your brand and think… “aah, just look at all that lovely content”.

However, everything you create has to do two jobs –a standalone job, with specific KPIs (whether that’s views, lead generation or thought leadership) and a wider job fitting into your overarching strategy.

Content without a plan is just noise.


Take a moment to redefine your content strategy statement: a short, flexible overview that outlines your goals, target audience and their needs.

Conduct a content audit; take stock of where you are and identify any content that’s redundant, outdated, or doesn’t fit into your strategy.

Use consumer data to create targeted content with clear KPIs – and don’t be afraid to call in experts if you need them. Creating great content requires skill and time; there’s no shame in calling on trusted partners to help out.

4.    Caring about the wrong metrics

“Guys! Guys! We’ve got another like! We’re definitely not going to go bust!” is not a cry that’s ever echoed around Wall Street.

No matter what your marketing activity is, it has two objectives – the right one and the wrong one.

“Vanity” KPIs are the equivalent of paying your friends to come to your party – we’ve all done it because it seemed like a good idea at the time, but next morning all you’re left with an aching feeling of emptiness and a bouncy castle that won’t clean itself.


Focus on quality not quantity – the reach of your campaign is an opportunity, but the mark of its efficiency is how many people engaged with it.

Think about your metrics – if you have a metric that isn’t generating an actionable outcome or useable data it’s a vanity metric.

Use relevant, internal benchmarks and keep an eye on how your campaigns perform against them.

A/B test until you’re blue in the face. And then AB test your new blue face against your previous one.

5.    Falling in love with shiny new toys.

Yes, Augmented Reality is really sexy (when it works).

Yes, AI is going to change the way we live.

Yes, my Philips Hue lightbulbs are the best thing I’ve ever bought – (16 million colours. 16 MILLION!) but I still use the physical switch when I just want to turn the bloody things on or off.

Some things don’t get the love they deserve because they plough on effectively in the background; print ads, targeted door drops, a solid CRM programme. All these quiet heroes, efficiently soldiering on until the shine wears off our new android chums/overlords.


Keep it simple. Right message. Right person. Right time. Some things we shouldn’t give up.