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4 Marketing Mistakes and (Unsolicited) Advice on How to Fix Them

Some of the best gifts are those you don’t realize you need, but once opened, you immediately see how useful they can be.

Unsolicited advice doesn’t always fall into that welcome-gift category. But Andrew Davis’ Unsolicited Advice column in Chief Content Officer typically does. He gives an unsuspecting company the benefit of his keen insight into how marketers veer off course and suggests how to get back on track.

Andrew delivers his helpful perspective with a dose of humor and generous offers to help. We share it now in the hope the lessons bring you good cheer.

1. Don’t let Miguel text (unless he can text back too)

Daniele Schillaci

Executive Vice President, Global Sales & Marketing

Nissan Motor Co.

Just because your dealers have the technology to send text messages to every single person who’s ever leased a Nissan vehicle doesn’t mean they should.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Nissan. In fact, I’ve leased three Nissan Muranos over the course of nine years. Each one of those vehicles was reliable, comfortable, affordable, and fast.

However, when I received the following text message from Miguel, I was shocked at how miserable your marketing is.

“Hey Andrew, I’m very excited to talk to you about your Nissan Murano,” the text message read.

“Miguel, I haven’t owned or leased a Nissan Murano for six years,” I texted back.

Miguel’s response? Crickets.

Text messaging is a wonderfully powerful way to communicate with customers, prospects, leads, and even former customers. However, if you’re going to make the best use of text-message marketing technology, maybe you should teach your dealers and sales staff to segment their lists.

To make the best use of text-message marketing technology, you should segment your lists. @DrewDavishere Share on X

Maybe you think text messages like the one Miguel sent are simply a minor annoyance. Or maybe you believe irritating some people to generate a few hot leads is a good strategy. However, they make your brand look ignorant and uncaring.

Text messaging is an interpersonal marketing medium and while I haven’t owned a Nissan for years, it’s a great opportunity to build an intimate relationship between a salesperson and a prospect like me. Who knows, maybe I’m in the market for a new car?

Text messaging is great to build a relationship between a salesperson & a prospect. @DrewDavishere Share on X

A few hours later I texted Miguel again: “What happened, not so excited to talk anymore?”


Here’s the deal. If you commit to teaching your dealers and their teams how to use new technology (like text messaging) to build better relationships with your customers, I’ll host a free webinar or speak at one of your dealer events for free.

I’d love to be part of the solution. What do you say? Do we have a deal?

Whether you wanted it or not,

Andrew Davis (November 2018)

2. Take a human cue from T-Mobile’s CEO

Diego Scotti

Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer


Have you considered leveraging your people to power your brand?

I love your new Humanability campaign. I get it; you’re trying to show the world that you’re more than just a wireless network. You’re making the world a better place. I appreciate that. I do.

But have you seen what John Legere at T-Mobile is doing? Besides wooing over a million customers from Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T every quarter (for 19 straight quarters), he’s attached a person to the brand and is killing it. You have no idea what you’re missing if you haven’t tuned into John’s Slow Cooker Sunday show on Facebook. (Notice how I refer to the CEO of your competition by his first name? I don’t even know your CEO’s name and I was a customer for 16 years.)

.@TMobile CEO @JohnLegere attached his personality to the brand and is killing it. @DrewDavisHere Share on X

Look, social interaction drives social media.

A social interaction relies on an interpersonal relationship between two or more people that may range from fleeting to enduring. It’s not possible to have a social interaction with a brand. It’s incredibly inauthentic. No matter how much I love Verizon, the notion that I can have a meaningful “interpersonal relationship” with a brand is idiotic.

But I can have a relationship – a deep, meaningful relationship – with a person from a brand because of social media. Over the past year, I’ve built an authentic, personal relationship with the CEO of T-Mobile and I’m now one of those Verizon defectors. I’m a T-Mobile customer.

The future of all branding is people-powered. Is it just me that sees the irony in running a campaign called Humanability without making the Verizon brand more human, more social, more accessible, and more authentic?

Online social interaction leads to offline action.

Here’s the deal: If you embrace the authentic potential of a people-powered brand, my wife (who’s still a Verizon customer) might not defect. But if I keep sending her John’s amazing T-Mobile videos, I guarantee she’ll switch. John’s charisma is wearing her down.

What do you say? Why don’t you tap into the power of the personal brands that built your business?

Whether you wanted it or not,

Andrew Davis (August 2018)

3. Stop the content marketing education

Agency Executives


Please, stop teaching content marketing in your pitch presentations. Instead, sell your results.

Agencies: Stop teaching #contentmarketing in pitch presentations. Instead, sell your results. @DrewDavisHere Share on X

Having sat through dozens of content marketing agency pitches in the last four years (and having pitched content marketing accounts for over a decade), I know how much you love to teach content marketing. I admire your passion and enthusiasm, and I appreciate your urge to explain what content marketing is and how it works. But this is not Content Marketing 101. This is a pitch presentation.

Consider the prospective client for a moment. Over the past month, it’s heard pitches from three agencies. Every one of those agency account executives taught the prospect about content marketing. They all explained how the world has changed and how content marketing is a slow game. They all showed some stats and presented some case studies to demonstrate how content marketing works. Now, it’s your turn. You’re the fourth agency to walk in the door and waste 25 minutes reeducating the prospect.

Instead of being the fourth executive in four weeks to explain content marketing, here’s what I need you to try: Assume your prospects know everything they need to know about content marketing. Your prospects will ask if they need more information. No one has ever been thrown out of a pitch meeting for assuming their prospects are savvy and smart. To do this, all you need to do is invert your pitch: Start with the results.

Here’s the deal: If you invert your pitch at your next agency pitch meeting and you don’t win the account, I’ll spend an hour with you working on the presentation.

What do you say? Do we have a deal?

Whether you wanted it or not,

Andrew Davis (May 2018)

4. Rethink “buyer personas”

Pamela Vaughan

Principal Marketing Manager, Web Strategy


I fear your advice about personas may be steering your readers down the wrong path. Let me explain.

I loved your blog post entitled How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business. Your advice is sound and smart. You tell us to start with the customers we already reach to understand more about the audience we want to reach. I also loved your approach to gathering intelligence through interviews. I even like the free persona template you invited me to download.

All your advice is excellent, but I think you’re applying the wrong term. You’re calling them “buyer personas” when what you’re describing is more aptly named “audience personas.”

“Buyer personas” should be more aptly named “audience personas” in #contentmarketing, says @DrewDavisHere. Share on X

Here’s the thing: The most successful content marketing personas aim to build an audience of people who aren’t yet buyers – in other words, you’re reaching people before they need you (or before they know they need you).

While some may see it as just semantics, it’s much more than that. Focusing on audience personas means building ongoing relationships with prospective buyers instead of conducting one-off campaigns to complete a transaction. It means driving subscriptions that build trust over time rather than creating individual pieces of content. By the time a member of your audience has a need, you’re the only brand that person trusts.

Here’s the deal: If you decide to rename buyer personas, audience personas, I’ll help write a new post for the HubSpot blog all about the subtle but unbelievably important distinction.

What do you say? Do we have a deal?

Whether you wanted it or not,

Andrew Davis (February 2018)

Who else needs unsolicited advice?

These companies didn’t ask for it, but Andrew dished it out to them anyway. I know he’s not the only one who notices marketing missteps (and sees a better solution).

Are there companies whose marketing could benefit from some advice they don’t know they need? Let us know in the comments.

Avoid getting an unsolicited letter from Andrew Davis. Grow your skills at Content Marketing University. Register for the winter semester.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute