CU Water Cooler

How to Create a Terrible Marketing Campaign

Amy EtheridgeComment

If your boss is anything like mine I’m sure they have come to you at the end of the year and said, “You know what, Amy, heck with the goals. I say we just have fun for the rest of the year, make some terrible campaigns, and try your hardest to NOT gain anything. No more loans, No more new members. Nada. By the way, spend as much money as you can to do it.”

So to help you come up with some of these terrible ideas I’ve put together my list of ways you can make your marketing campaigns absolutely awful. 

No Offer

Who cares about special offers, great low rates, and high APY? I say throw all that out the window. What really sells is telling people how much you love member service, and that your staff is really nice. So I’d definitely take that approach when working on your messaging. Or better yet, just be completely vague. Don’t tell them anything about products or services, benefits to them, or why they should do business with you instead of someone else. Just throw someone’s picture on a billboard and create a “face” to your brand. That will really help sell your credit union.

No Goal

Who needs one? You’re not trying to be successful, remember. You don’t need to attain anything. In fact try to get as little as possible of a return. Don’t even think about looking at past performance, setting baselines, trying to achieve a minimum, median, or top target. Those are all for people trying to be successful.

Just Wing It

Plans are for those who are trying to be successful. In order to create a terrible campaign you will want to completely skip this step. Don’t write anything down, don’t think ahead, no brainstorming sessions, and whatever you do…DO NOT STRATEGIZE. No market research either. That could just give you way too much helpful information. 

No Spelling and Grammar Check

When I’m really trying to get a point across I try to make spelling and grammatical errors. Nothing positions you as an expert like not bothering with spell check or adding a whole bunch of unnecessary commas. So in an effort to really build trust and expertise I recommend that you just go all willy nilly (yes, that is a technical term) with the spelling. Even throw in some words that make no sense to anyone except for a few random accountants. That will be really helpful in ensuring your campaign ends up being terrible. 

No Digital Placement

Want my opinion? If you want to be really unsuccessful in your marketing campaigns… this one is key. Do not, and I mean do not place this campaign on your website. Certainly don’t pay for digital media. No Google Adwords for you mister. Step away from that purchase button! If your website is anything like mine, more people visit it in a month than an actual branch. So I’m begging you, no homepage banners, and no spotlight page highlighting the product or service or features and benefits… step away. And if you insist on putting it on your website, then I’d highly recommend you use yellow font and hide it at least 4 to 5 clicks in so people really cannot find it.  

No Staff Training

By all means if you’re trying to have a terrible marketing campaign do not tell your staff about it. We don’t want those pesky tellers cross selling a product or telling members about your special offer. Keep them in the dark completely. No emails, no take-one sheets, no tip cards letting them know what to look for. Just leave all of that at home. 

No Media Diversity

If you are insistent on actually placing media for this terrible campaign might I recommend that you only use newspaper or better yet, a free magazine. You’ll want to spend a lot of money too. But don’t go getting any bright ideas. You’re not doing full-page spreads in color. What you want to do is hide your ad in the middle of the paper. Make it small, and make it black and white. You definitely don’t want to spread your money throughout multiple types of media to extend your reach. No billboards, radio, television or web purchases for you. Don’t even think about touching those social media platforms either. Nope. You’re going to want to purchase just print. Trust me on this one. 

Several Shades of Brown

No one likes looking at ads that are bright, eye catching or have a headline that makes you want to see more. In fact, when I’m making a terrible campaign I’ll try my hardest to just make it blend into the background. Do not draw attention to yourself with fancy artwork, no stock photography on this creative, just focus on using as many shades of brown as you can. That will ensure that this campaign will be terrible. 

Comic Sans Font

You know what I love? A good layout with Comic Sans font. There isn’t anything that you can’t sell with it. It appeals to a multitude of demographics. I think you should actually consider changing all of your branding guidelines to include the exclusive use of this font.

Horrible Imagery

My favorite way to make a bad marketing campaign is to use images that are completely irrelevant, or that are just straight creepy…you know what I’m talking about. Those stock photos where the talent is looking directly at camera with a cheesy smile, a thumbs up, and holding a wad of cash or car keys in their other hand. Or even better, they look shocked, or even confused while holding all that dough. I have found that imagery means nothing when you’re trying to create a bad marketing campaign so go crazy on this one. You could even use some cats wearing Santa Hats.  

So there you have it folks. Consider this my early Christmas present to you. Go out there and end the year with one terrible awful bang. Also feel free to share your tips for non-success in the comments section below!


Amy Etheridge lives in Warner Robins, Georgia. She is the Senior Marketing Coordinator at Robins Federal Credit Union. Amy started her credit union career 12 years ago as a teller, has worked in branch operations, and then found her calling in the marketing department.