James Anderson

Worst. Marketing. Advice. Ever. Top Brands Share All

James Anderson     Online Marketing

worst marketing advice

Someone once said, “The best advice is this: Don’t take advice and don’t give advice.”

While that statement isn’t true for the most part, there are a few times in a marketer’s career in which it might be best to just ignore the advice.

As all of the 2015 predictions and advice blog posts came rolling in, we thought it would be fun to ask just the opposite. So we reached out to some marketers and asked, “what is the worst marketing advice you have received or witnessed?”

We think you’ll find a whole lot of “what not to do” in what follows.

LaSandra BrillLaSandra Brill
Sr. Director, Paid & Earned Media, Symantec

I was once told that I was “too aggressive.” This was feedback that I received from my manager at the time. I wonder to this day if he would have given me that same feedback if I were a man. I decided to not let this feedback change me but to instead change who my manager was.

Julie Fleischer
Director, Data + Content + Media, Kraft Foods Group
Julie FleischerHands down the worst advice I’ve received is to religiously input past results into forecasts of future ones and then build plans accordingly. Consumers and the communications landscape are changing too fast to keep doing what you’ve always done and expecting the same (or better!) returns.

Success requires knowing your consumer today (not yesterday), open-mindedness to new ideas, media experimentation and innovation.

Avinash Kaushik
Digital Marketing Evangelist, Google
Avinash KaushikAnything that starts with “All you need is to rock SEO!” The bit at the end could be Email, Social, Site Experience, Paid Search, Affiliate, anything really. That advice is a demonstration of I’m a one-trick pony and so let me do the one dance I know.

It takes a complex mix of marketing strategies by companies to win. We’ve grown up with silos. Any advice related to optimizing one silo falls in the category of “worst marketing advice.”

The best employees/consultants obsess about optimizing for a Marketing Portfolio and possess the incredible capacity to understand each channel’s purpose, are able to recommend content matches in response to the customer need, and finally measure success of that portfolio strategy. [I call this the See-Think-Do-Care framework.]

You know you have great marketing advice if it represents clear thought for the entire marketing portfolio and the advice’s role in it.

Michelle Lapierre
Senior Director, Customer Experience & Social Media at Marriott Rewards
Michelle LapierreHere’s the brand style guide – don’t deviate”. As if:
* What worked in print and email channels would magically transfer to social channels.
* Talking about ourselves – with the right font and color palette – was the priority. * Giving no regard to the social conversation, and adapting to that conversation, was the norm.
* The command-and-control method of brand marketing still existed.

Mei Lee
VP, Marketing – Digital at Conde Nast Entertainment
Mei LeeThe worst marketing advice I’ve heard recently is to use the same ad creative across all social media platforms because you want your campaign message to be consistent everywhere.

Customers behave differently on each social media platform. Their need states vary from Facebook to Instagram to Vine. Your ad copy and call-to-action should be customized to meet specific need states. 

Rebecca Lieb
Industry Analyst, The Altimeter Group
Rebecca Lieb
I recall getting a call from a junior-level marketing person at a major publishing house. A big-brand, very conservative, financial publication. Her boss had numbers to meet, so instructed her to buy a shady piece of software (from Russia) off the web that scraped email addresses. He needed bigger email marketing lists. Her desperate query to me was, “I know this is wrong. Could you please help me to explain to him why this is wrong?”


Matt McGowan
Strategy at Google (COO of Americas Ad Agency Business)
Matt McGowan

“Do it for the for the award shows!”




Jennifer Mesenbrink

Senior Manager, Digital and Social Content Strategy Motorola Solutions

Jennifer MesenbrinkMy personal pet peeve with managing social media is that people assume you can just delete negative comments or ignore them. Yes, you can choose that path with your personal social media accounts, but when you’re managing a business account, that is literally the exact opposite way to handle those interactions via social media. Social media is about entering into a conversation with those vocal dissenters – answering their questions, solving problems, addressing their concerns in a legitimate way — so you can change that customer’s opinion. It’s not a problem – it’s a social opportunity.

Joe Pulizzi
Founder, Content Marketing Institute and Author, “Epic Content Marketing”

Joe PulizziOne thing that has really bothered me is how many times I hear these two words – Have to.
* You “have to” be on Facebook.
* You “have to” blog.
* You “have to” do Google Adwords.

I’ve had the opportunity to listen to literally dozens of marketing speeches where so-called experts have said these two words. Not once have I ever agreed with that. Marketing is both art and science.

There is no “one way” to do things. If you ever hear someone say that there is something you MUST do…that there is no other way…my advice is…run.

Mark Schaefer
Consultant, Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker, Adjunct Marketing Professor, Rutgers University
Mark SchaeferThere is a lot of bad advice out there but one mantra that sticks in my head is to “be controversial” to get traffic to your site.

To me, this is like playing with fire. I can’t imagine convincing my boss that a company and a carefully-groomed brand should mindfully be associated with forced negativity. If the thing blows up in a bad way, you’re into damage control and even if it works, can you really sustain “controversy” as a strategy? This is different than holding a legitimate opinion or taking a stand in an authentic way.

What is the worst marketing advice that you have ever received or heard? Share with our readers in the comments below.

Top image: Shutterstock

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