Why "spray and pray" marketing fails
Jeremy Epstein
March 10, 2017

The following is an edited excerpt of the whitepaper, “14 Rules for Successful High-Growth Marketing.” (Free PDF)

Growing as quickly as we did at Sprinklr helps you realize what’s essential for great marketing and what’s not, particularly if you are a startup. The same applies even if you’re trying to jump start your marketing initiatives.  As a former mentor said to me, "Marketing is less about the sexy part and more just rhythm and process."

Hopefully, you can benefit from our hard-earned lessons to accelerate your own efforts.

It’s critical to note that marketing isn’t all you need. I was fortunate to work for a great CEO, with many extremely passionate and talented people, and have a great product behind us. In other words, it was a serious team effort.

However, as the person responsible for marketing, it's important to remember these 14 Rules for Successful High-Growth Marketing. Here's the very first:

Rule #1: Don’t confuse activity with outcomes

Activity feels good. Make a checklist, get the stuff done, check it off. But that’s not what you are paid to do. 

If your goal is to lose weight, and you say, "Well, I’m going to the gym every day, but the scale says nothing has changed," then you are focused on activity, not outcomes. It’s critical to be very clear with yourself -- and your team -- about what you are trying to accomplish.

I'll give you an example: We had a telemarketing team (I called them "Individual Outreach"). Their job was to identify the right people at a target organization (we were going after Fortune 2000) and secure meetings. A lot of orgs call these people "Inside Sales." Most teams like this send a boatload of emails that are copy/paste saying, "here’s what we do, can I have 15 minutes of your time?"

It’s "spray and pray." I know this to be the case because as vice president of marketing, I was on the receiving end of a ton of these. While it does work (a bit) and generate some meetings, it doesn’t consider the number of people who now think less highly of your company.  It also doesn’t really move the relationship between you and the prospect forward in any meaningful way.

Here’s what we did differently…

Our team would meticulously research people.

We looked at their Twitter profile, LinkedIn, blog posts, etc. until we had as deep an understanding of the person as we could get. Then, each team member would write a highly customized, personalized email that clearly demonstrated the fact that he had done the research about the prospect (without being creepy -- though admittedly, some people didn’t like it).

If you liked baseball, we would comment on it. If you had just come back from a trip, we would ask about it. If you recommended a book or an article, we might read it and explore the topic.

The point was: We have taken the time to get to know you as a person… and we are trying to engage on that personal level.

What happened?

We sent out a lot fewer emails per day than a typical organization, but our response rate was astronomical. People saw that we actually gave a damn about them... as people. Not as numbers, but as real people.

They responded with comments such as:

  • "This is the best pitch email I have ever received."
  • "Anyone who does this amount of work before contacting me is the kind of company I can respect."
  • "What a refreshing change from the usual copy/paste!"

And this was a key driver in growing leads by 400% YoY.

The Lesson

This approach of highly personalized emails may not work for everyone and that’s fine, but the key thing we did was just asking ourselves, "What do we need to do?" For us, the answer was to drive more initial meetings and leads. Then we said, "Okay, given the way the world works today, what can we do to increase the likelihood of achieving that outcome."

But always stayed focus on the outcome.

 Alternative: For more on this and a specific example, see this post.

Jeremy Epstein, CEO of Never Stop Marketing, has 20 years of international marketing experience in helping to bring innovative technologies into the mainstream.  Most recently, Jeremy was VP, Marketing at Sprinklr which grew from a $20 million valuation and 30 people to $1.3 billion valuation and 900 people in three years.