Granted, there is no sure shot recipe for a winning marketing program. However, you and I will agree that there are countless ways of doing bad marketing.
On one end of bad marketing is "clueless marketing" where you spend a ton of money on trying to take your message to the target audience, but the messaging is very bad. So, you touch the target audience, but leave them so confused that they run away from you.
Moving forward, you have "Interruption Marketing" where you start throwing your message mindlessly (also known as "spray and pray") and hope that something sticks. Through sheer luck, you get some results. So, encouraged by that "lucky strike," you double up your efforts on the "interruption Marketing" program until you lose all the good will.
[ Note: please see "The (Wrong) Art of Interruption Marketing"]
There are dozens of other bad marketing models, but the crown jewel goes to "Deceptive Marketing" where you conveniently hold back truth to make the recipient believe that you are trying to help them.
Recently, I received a "Notice" where they were making a "2nd Attempt" letting me know that the warranty on our BMW X1 car has already expired and they wanted me to call them to buy extended warranty.
We leased the BMW X1 so there is no concept of losing warranty. Upon closely looking at the "notice," I saw that this was a "cleverly disguised" marketing letter from Guardian - a classic example of deceptive marketing.
Three Hidden Costs
I have chosen three hidden costs to cover here:
The first problem with most bad marketing programs is that by virtue of some luck, they might show some results. They are results not because of bad marketing, but inspire of bad marketing. It's easy to attribute those results to your marketing programs. If you are not careful, you will start throwing good money after bad money. You will be hoping for a miracle at best.
The second problem with bad marketing programs is the lack of trust from the recipient and the recipient's network. This gets amplified with "deception marketing" followed by companies like Guardian. It will take a Herculean effort for the company to win back the trust (if they ever can)
The third problem with bad marketing programs is that it presents a huge opportunity cost. The time, money, energy and mindshare gets used up by marketing programs becomes unavailable for potentially good marketing programs making you pay a double price.