What Horror Movies Can Teach You About Digital Marketing

*This post originally appeared on Talent Zoo’s Beneah The Brand blog.

It’s that time of year. All Hallows’ Eve is upon us and the television networks have their lineups filled to the brim with monster flicks, Jason marathons, and the ever-popular It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown! So in honor of those great horror films, let’s lay the scene, shall we?

It’s a dark and stormy night in October and some young pretty thing is alone in her house. What’s that she hears? An unexplainable noise outside the window? Silly girl, it’s just the tree branches scratching against the glass. All is well. Or is it? Was that a bump in the hallway? We’ll just take a quick peek around the corner and…Oh no! A madman in a mask! Quick! Run up the stairs and hide in the closet with no exits! He’ll never find you there.

Yes, we all know this scene all too well. Poor stupid damsel. If only she’d taken a moment before leaping into her poorly executed plan, perhaps she wouldn’t be in pieces on the bedroom floor now. Harrowing, isn’t it?

You know what’s more harrowing? Not thinking your digital marketing strategy through. It’s a well-known, yet often unheeded, truth; if you leap too soon into digital marketing, your campaign could end up like our dear unfortunate friend — in pieces and going nowhere fast.

The digital world can be a scary place, especially for businesses taking their maiden voyage into digital marketing. It’s so vast that it’s easy to get lost in the options — microsites, social media integration, PURLs, PPC ads, QR codes — it’s enough to overwhelm anyone. The important thing to remember is to stop and think the process through.

Let’s say you want to direct potential customers through a promotional microsite. Great! Now how are you going to funnel them there? How can they use the site to tell their friends about the promotion? Who (or what) is tracking all this data for you? See, plans are important.

I once had a client who built out a great microsite using the marketing technology offered by my company that would allow for viral peer sharing on social networks and would track all the analytics and build a customer database for them. They even had an amazing offer to entice people to enter the promotion. So once the campaign had been live for a week and they were getting no response, we had a call.

“We just don’t understand,” they said. “We built this amazing site. Where are all the customers?”

After a few minutes of discussion, I quickly realized they had allotted no money or time for promoting their microsite. They literally built a site with an offer and then didn’t take the time to tell anyone it was out there. Poor execution of what could have been a great plan. They just assumed that if they built a site, the people would come.

The truth is, digital marketing isn’t like Field of Dreams. Just because you build, it doesn’t mean the people will come. They have to be directed there. They have to be enticed. You need a clear and logically thought-out plan before you take off running into a digital marketing campaign.

That’s how you avoid the slaughter.

Happy Halloween everyone!