Should we follow Wetherspoons?

Louise Barrett of Media Matters.
Louise Barrett of Media Matters.
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Wetherspoons is renowned for its drastic marketing moves.

Back in 2017 when the company pressed ‘delete’ on its entire email list, GDPR was looming closer, it had suffered a data breach and fines had been dished out to companies for not gaining opt-in.

Wetherspoons decided enough was enough, that consumers found emails intrusive and the risk wasn’t worth taking.

The decision to say goodbye to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter was made in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Wetherspoons’ chairman, Tim Martin, said the channel was a distraction for pub managers, who should focus on serving customers instead. But does this mean your business should follow in Wetherspoons’ footsteps? Don’t assume a bold move like Wetherspoons will work for your business. Wetherspoons’ decisions have each been based on what works – and doesn’t work – for them. Although the pub chain’s decisions are drastic, they are well thought through: they take into consideration where revenue is made; the positioning of the Wetherspoons’ brand, and what they want to achieve.

Brands can learn from Wetherspoons: do more of what works and either change what doesn’t work or do less of it. Measurement is vital – you need to know what channels are helping you achieve your objectives and which are simply diverting resources into fruitless tasks. It may be that social media and email marketing – and a whole host of other digital marketing – are ideal for your business. Some have assumed the scrapping of email marketing and social media were no more than publicity stunts for Wetherspoons – but so what if they were? It is still effective as long as PR has proven to be a successful marketing channel for the brand and its objective. With that in mind, always ensure you have a strong strategy in place and the right tactics to follow. If your strategy clearly defines your audience, your goals and your positioning, it should direct all of your marketing activity. Wetherspoons’ recent decisions are not a signifier of a move away from digital or a sign that all brands should do the same. Take your time to decide what will work for you and consider all of the pros and cons. As just two examples, social media can be a very important reputation management tool, and email marketing a direct way of getting important information to the people who need to know. These channels can be incredibly important for brands, so make sure a brash decision doesn’t damage your chances of achieving your goals.