4 Marketing Lessons from Red Riding Hood

When you read the story of Red Riding Hood, did you think to yourself, “how can a girl not differentiate between her grandmother and a wolf?” Well the truth is – closer you are to something, the less you actually see. You might not realize it, but as a marketer, you might be stuck in the same situation as Red Riding Hood. You might not be able to see challenges that are the closest to you. In this article, we will learn 4 very important lessons from Red Riding Hood, an old story but with new lessons.

1. Dawdling Along

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Even though the mother had clearly warned Red Riding Hood to not dawdle or talk to strangers, Red Riding Hood went dawdling and collecting flowers in the forest. A lot of marketers do the same. They dawdle along towards their marketing goals, stopping by to pick up marketing tools that might catch their fancy.

This is a very wrong approach and can spell disaster for your marketing campaign. There are hundreds of marketing tools available in the market and not all of them are worth picking up. So ask yourself this question – Am I equipped with the right strategy and tools to reach my goals faster or am I just dawdling along?

If you answer with conviction that you are equipped with the right tools and strategy, kudos to you. If not, here are some essential marketing tools to get your campaign go straight on high-speed success track.

2. Too Busy to Focus on Goals

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Now ask yourself another question – Are you tuning out your customers, social media fans etc. because you are too busy churning out marketing campaigns?

If you answer that in affirmative, you are indeed destined for a fate like Red Riding Hood. To save yourself from this fate, you need to make use of right social listening tools.

These tools can spare you hours of painstaking task of dissecting data by analyzing tweets, Facebook posts and blogs and other social data in real-time. Other tools like Buzzsumo and Topsy can help you find and connect with people who like and share your content on social media.

All these social listening and outreaching tools can help you get real insights – directly from the horse’s mouth, so you can ensure better marketing campaigns.

3. Enemies Taking A Shortcut

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Once you hear what your customer’s are saying, it’s time to turn attention to your competitors. Your competitors might be using a new marketing gimmick, strategy or tool that might be improving their results. You need to find out if your competitors are aware of some marketing shortcuts that you haven’t noticed?

As a marketer, your one eye should be on competitor’s strategy. Kissmetrics recommend 25 sneaky online tools to help keep an eye on your competitors; my personal favorite is SpyFu. It allows you to find keywords your competitors are targeting, both in organic search and in AdWords. All you have to do is type the name of your competitor and behold, all their data right in front of you.

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This is a good tool for startups, local and small businesses as they have to thrive in a highly competitive market in limited marketing funds. Keeping an eye on local ads and competitive keywords can give you insights so you can reach your goal faster.

Getting Hoodwinked with Vain Words

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You might be well aware of the end of the story, Red Riding Hood was so blinded by the wolf’s sweet words, that she didn’t even once realize she was being fooled. Most marketers, armed with positive social media reports, foolishly overestimate their campaign’s success. However, when the time comes for calculating conversions from these positively glowing reports, the blame games begin.

This is because a lot of marketers are hoodwinked by vanity metrics such as social shares, signups and site visits. These metrics might look good on paper (or Excel Sheet), but when the push comes to shove, they might hardly have any effect on sales. Also it is very difficult to measure the effect of your campaign on final conversions.

Now let’s take a real example. Have you heard of Birchbox? It is a subscription based service provider with 1700000 Facebook followers. Their Facebook page consists of all sorts of make-up tips and girly stuff. Now how much of these likes actually lead to conversions? Not all of them surely as they have around 800,000 subscribers and BirchBox is super active on Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest as well.

Nevertheless, BirchBox is considered to be the most popular subscription business. Many startups followed suit inspired by their success and everyone and their mothers were starting subscription businesses every other day, thanks to e-commerce platform builders like Spaces, Cratejoy etc., that made it incredibly easy to start subscription-type business.

But within a year or so, these businesses had to fold down. Basically subscription-based services work on word-of-mouth publicity more than advertising. So it is easy to believe that these social media numbers are very important. However, likes, views and comments are not the only barometers of success and popularity.

So what are the key actionable metrics that you need to keep an eye on? Are they the number of times your YouTube videos are watched or the number of people who up-voted your services on some social platforms? No, these are secondary.

You first need to concentrate on the metrics that bring you conversions, or let’s be blunt and call it money. Some of these metrics are your subscription models, average length of subscription, lifetime value of the customer and so on.

A marketer must distance himself from social media success and look at hard, raw figures, that ultimately affect the bottom line.

Moral of the Story

Here comes the juiciest part – the moral of the story:

  1. Use marketing tools that help you improve your marketing campaigns whilst saving you time.
  2. Pay attention to what customers and influencers are saying.
  3. Keep an eye on your competitors.
  4. Don’t be hoodwinked by vanity metrics.
  5. Bonus lesson – Don’t talk to strangers in a forest!

Imbibe the lessons in this article, reach your goals faster and you shall have a happy ending!

*All images created using

Avinash Nair is a Digital Marketer at E2M, one of India’s fastest growing SEO Agency committed to meeting the highest ethical standards of digital marketing strategies and drive sustainable business growth. He is responsible for Content Marketing and Paid Search Marketing services. You can find him on Twitter: @AviNair52


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