This quarter, we’re dedicating our Mondays on social media to exploring common misconceptions in marketing.

Over the last three years, our team has heard all of these at least once, in the Mid-Ohio Valley.  We’re here to debunk these myths and educate our audience with some valuable knowledge to convince them that they need to market their business – whether we’re by their side, or they’re doing it themselves.

Get comfortable, and enjoy our many myth-busting replies:

1. “Marketing is a waste of money”—When this thought comes to mind, you’re effectively saying that your service or product is a waste of money. Think about it, you want to grow your business but you’re not willing to invest in marketing it, so aren’t you kind-of saying you’re services are not worth promoting? You’ve already invested in your business, now it’s time to invest in growing it. Without marketing, your business will have a very hard time getting you a return on your investment.

2. “It takes too long to see a return on my marketing investment”—If this is the case, your marketing strategy just might be the wrong one. There are a bunch of marketing opportunities out there and some can provide fast results, while others are more of a slow burn. Having marketing experts as a resource (who have been there and done that) will help you to know which strategies will bring rapid results and which strategies will build brand loyalty.

3. “A friend of mine is a designer and can help me market”—This is half true, your friend can design something for you and help you market your business. But does your friend know how to design and target the audience you need to grow your business? Oftentimes, people put together a look for their business without considering the feel of that look. Professional designers and marketers know not only how to create a look, but also a feel for your business, instilling trust with your customers.

4. “I just want to put a little bit of money towards marketing until I see results, then I’ll invest more”—Is this a good marketing strategy? Maybe, maybe not, actually most likely not! We’re not trying to be the bearer of bad news here, but like we mentioned earlier, marketing is an investment in yourself and your business. Would you hire a personal trainer and say I’ll workout with you once every other week, and once I start seeing results, I’ll workout with you more? Common sense tells us you won’t see real results from putting forth minimum effort, you have to push the limits. When it comes to marketing, it’s important to strike a balance between what you can invest and what you should invest. There are strategies available that will get you amazing results for the best price, and having experts in your corner will get you there.

5. “You should only focus on acquiring new customers.” – No, you also need to keep them. If you only focus on bringing customers in, you’ll see them leave as quickly as they came. Work on generating lifetime value that’s higher than the cost of acquisition. Give users a reason to come back—an incentive to engage with your brand.  Never assume your customers are yours for life. Everyone who buys from you needs regular reinforcement of the reasons to continue buying from you and not from one of your competitors. Promote to prospects, but always promote to customers, too.

6. “More is better.”– Don’t make the mistake of thinking that quantity is more important than quality when it comes to users or leads. Getting cheap users is easier but not more lucrative. Sure, you can get leads for free or cheap, but they’re harder to retain. You need to find and keep quality users through engaging marketing that is (mostly) tied into social media.

7. “I Don’t Need to Do Much – Marketing Is an Organic Process” – Some businesses think that since their product or service is so good, marketing will happen naturally.  The reality is, you need to communicate with your target audience to get your product or service out there – or your competitors will get there first. You need a strategic process to determine how you want your brand to be perceived, recognized, experienced, and shared.

8. “Marketing is Advertising”—Well, yes and no. Without advertising, marketing is much less effective and without marketing, advertising can be a waste. In order to truly grow your business, you need both. Advertising is a branch of marketing through which your services can be presented to your audience, whereas marketing is the essence of reaching them.
9. “It Isn’t Possible to Accurately Report the Results of Your Marketing Campaign, and Therefore You Will Never Know your ROI” – With the tools marketers have at their fingertips, you are likely to be amazed at what you can see! Full reporting means you will be able to see which landing pages are performing the best, are receiving the most hits, and converting into leads. Find out which contact forms are the most effective, which pieces of content are attracting the most visitors to your website and are engaging people for the longest, and which links they are clicking on. Discover which pages on your website your leads are looking at and which ones they are just clicking through, and which emails are opened or deleted.

10. “Your industry is too boring (or traditional) for content marketing” – “Complaining your industry isn’t glamorous tells me two things about you: you don’t fully understand your customers need/pain points/ wants and you are boring.” ( Lisa Barone of Overit) The opportunity to create high-quality content is there, regardless of what industry you serve…. Just because your topic is toilets (or insurance, or telecom, or stained-glass windows), doesn’t mean your topic has to be 100-percent toilet focused.  Find those interesting periphery topics, or the topics your customers are passionate about, and create content around them.”

11. “We have a marketing plan: We’re running ads.” – An advertising campaign can be a valuable marketing tactic, but it’s a tactic – just one of the many ways you might deliver your marketing messages to your target audience. You need an integrated plan that spells out multiple tactics and how they’ll work together to achieve your goals for awareness, lead generation, and sales.

12. “My Marketing Department Is Responsible for My Company’s Marketing Campaign” – This is incorrect. A marketing strategy needs to come from the top down and it needs input from everybody in the company.  Talk to all the departments in your company and get feedback from those that are customer facing; salesmen, drivers, receptionists, cashiers, and anyone that deals with your customers and identifies leads on a daily basis. They can give you a valuable insight into the company’s prospects. Tap into these sources for important insights on attracting and capturing new customers.
13. “My Marketing Strategy Is in Place – So I Can Forget About It” – Just as the options for reporting are virtually endless, the capabilities for content marketing are always evolving. Once you have formulated your strategy, reporting will be an ongoing process. This will enable you to refine your marketing strategies as things change or as you release new products, services and special offers. Ongoing tweaks and improvements will ensure that you maximize your ROI and stand out as the industry expert in your chosen field.

14. “Content Marketing is not for Google” – When done right content in content marketing will speak to Google. If your content attracts an audience, they will backlink to it. They will share on social platforms. They will recommend your content and rate it well. Being able to place content on high quality outlets gives you the opportunity to produce high quality backlinks to your site. Search engines try to record all of this – because they love quality. The one thing Google is trying to accomplish with all the recent updates is to bring users useful content they are searching for. Even if your content creation is focused on bringing good content to your audience without any thoughts about keywords, Google will eventually appreciate your efforts and help you get your content to your audience. So, even while content marketing is not SEO and should not focus on satisfying Google, your SEO can profit from your content marketing efforts – or even more you should make sure that your content marketing and SEO go hand in hand.

15. “We’re too small. We don’t need a marketing plan.” – A marketing plan is the blueprint for how you present your organization to the market. It outlines your target audience, messages, channels, tactics, offers, and budget. Without an integrated, cohesive plan, you could be confusing your prospects and wasting money. Every business – even a one-person business – needs to plan their marketing to get the best return on their marketing investment.

16. “The website speaks for itself.” – Today’s marketers understand that content is king. Without engaging and creative content, the viewer won’t know what they’re looking for and definitely won’t consider buying. Make sure your content is clear and concise. Extra points for publishing case studies or any sort of social proof. Most buyers want to know what their peers have to say. Additionally, many websites, especially drag-and-drop DIY websites, are lacking a clear “call to action”, resulting in an overwhelming amount of content that users can get lost navigating through. When this happens, the user doesn’t read your site.

17. “I Know My Business and I Know Where I Need to Target My Marketing” – Any strategy should start with an analysis of what has been happening to identify the positives and the negatives, or, what your business does well and what it could do better.  Ideally, analysis should come from a separate department or third party for honest, objective feedback.  Too many companies forget about this all-important analysis or allow departments to analyse themselves; the result is that they fail to identify a baseline, or a starting point, as to where the company needs to improve, grow, or change the most.

18. “The Same Approach Can be Used for Every Company” – This could not be further from the truth. Every company will have a different set of challenges, according to which stage of the customer’s experience they are dealing with, even companies within the same industry.  Each set of problems will need a customized approach and solution. You will implement your chosen strategy after careful consideration of the facts in relation to your customer’s persona.
19. “We already know what our customers think.” – People just like your current customers are your best prospects, so it’s crucial to understand your customers: Who they are, what they think, how they feel, and why they choose to buy from you. Many marketers believe they know what their customers think, but what if they’re wrong? Customer research by an independent, professional resource is a critical first step to gaining this insight.

20. “Every content is good content” – Being active online and in social media, I sometimes get the impression that there is a competition going on who creates the most content instead of going for the best content. The truth is: you can gain more with one outstanding piece of content in the right outlets or channels and it will give you much more attention, feedback and branding effect than hundreds of cheap pieces of content no one really needs or wants to see. The risk of creating too much (and possibly irrelevant or even bad) content is: it can easily backfire and mark you as a spammer.

21. “Marketing Strategies Are Easy to Create”– This misconception stems from the fact that the internet is free and pretty much anyone can create a website or social media account. However, do not underestimate the skill involved in creating the right content and ensuring it reaches your audience in the most appropriate way.  The research and information gathering is a huge process on its own. Of course, creating a strategy based on assumptions might be slightly easier, but it’s also the quickest way to fail.  A strategy has to be based on evidence in the form of real, tangible, relevant date. Perform A/B split testing to establish which method performs the best, and then run with the option that provides the best results.

22. “A Strategy Can Be Implemented Quicker Than You Think” – Once a strategy has been created, the hard work begins. This will involve optimizing your content and website for keywords that are identified as those that are most likely to boost your visibility with search engines. You will need to create contact forms, landing pages which are engaging and relevant, off-page SEO to generate backlinks and visitors to your site, and automations to ensure you nurture captured leads. Since content marketing is all about establishing and building relationships with customers and other businesses, it can take time to see results.

23. “I Don’t Need an Online Marketing Plan” – As more and more consumers make purchasing decisions based on what they see on the internet, it is absolutely crucial that your company embraces digital content marketing. You must stay abreast of the changing trends in the way your customers find you, interact with you, use your product or service, and talk about you afterwards. An online presence is not just about having a website; you need to produce informative content and bring customers to your site using blogs, social media, ebooks, and other techniques.

24. “I Can’t Afford to Have a Marketing Strategy” – You can’t afford not to! You need a marketing strategy that effectively promotes your product or service to your audience to stimulate growth.  Don’t put it off until another day – it needs to be an ongoing process and it needs to be in place as soon as possible. “We’d love to try that marketing channel, but we can’t afford it. Marketers often make incorrect assumptions about the cost of marketing channels like broadcast advertising or direct mail. Don’t rule out a channel because you think it’s too expensive. Explore your options thoroughly. You may find that channels you thought were out of reach can be accessed affordably.

25. “We don’t need to be on social media.” – No matter what you sell, you can be certain your customers, prospects, and competitors are actively using social media. If you don’t take part, you’ll be left out of conversations that are shaping your marketplace. Get started with social media now.
26. “SOCIAL MEDIA IS ALL WE NEED.” – So, I assume not a single customer that purchases from you, or hires you, has ever researched you on Google? Enough said.

27. “Sales are down, so we need to cut our marketing budget.” – Tough times force companies to make tough budget decisions, but marketing is one place you should try not to cut. Not only can effective marketing can help you break out of a sales slump, but if you stop engaging with your customers and prospects, competitors will be standing by to take your place. Don’t give them the opportunity.

28. “Content Marketing is a new Concept” – Marketing with (relevant) content is neither new nor an invention of Internet. Selling of content marketing as a new concept is truly dangerous, as it can prevent you from learning from past examples. Having a history allows you to do better in the future and hopefully build on past success.

29. “Content Marketing is Digital” – As stated before content marketing has a long history. Business people have been marketing with content for centuries without feeling the need to come up with a term for it. Content marketing strategies that have been used long before the web was in existence include: conferences, lectures, seminars, workshops, articles in industry magazines/papers, industry report, customer news papers, special magazines, guides and publications for clients…. Content Marketing is the art of producing and promoting useful and/or relevant content. There are many forms of content that businesses use to reach and communicate with current and future customers. Limiting your content strategy to digital and online marketing is limiting your action radius – and just because online marketing gives you new ways of reaching your audience does not mean you should ignore the traditional ways. In most cases the ideal strategy integrates both.

30. “I CAN WRITE BLOGS AND POSTS SO I CAN MARKET MYSELF.” – You are producing content, so you think you are a content marketer? Let me disappoint you: most likely you are wrong. There is much more to content marketing than producing content. A true content marketing strategy has to include concepts for content distribution, communication and interaction with the audience. You have to have a clear idea about which goals and which target group you want to reach. Depending on your strategy, you need an editorial calendar and might need to include your company’s departments in your strategy for producing and distributing content.

31. “My Competitor Is Not Doing Anything So I Don’t Need To Either” – Well, this would be a seemingly brilliant strategy if it wasn’t for a few simple facts: First, new competitors pop up all the time, meaning some new guy could start his company next week, focus a lot of effort and money on advertising, and steal a huge percentage of your market share right out from under you. Second, that’s a huge opportunity for you to take advantage of a wide-open playing field without much headache.

32. “THERE IS NOT A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SEO AND SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING.” – Google is a friend of good content and Google is a powerful tool to give your content the attention it deserves – so far so true. But producing content for search engine optimization is not content marketing and optimizing your content for search engines (i.e. keywords etc.) does not necessarily give you success in content marketing. Focusing on SEO content strategies leaves out all the other great possibilities content marketing might hold for you. Content in content marketing is created for an audience. This audience wants a well composed, informative and entertaining piece of content. Keyword staffing and optimization can kill the user experience and you are lost – Google might still bring people to your content, but you will not successfully market with this content. It works better the other way round: producing quality content that your audience likes and recommends produces backlinks and social signals that improves your search positions in return. Google loves quality content.

33. “Content (Marketing) is for Google” – Content Marketing is for a target audience. Google might help you reach this audience, but you are still creating content for an audience and not for Google. If you are creating content for Google, you are doing SEO, SEO is not content marketing (see above). Content in content marketing is created for people: your target audience. It is meaningful, interesting, informative and entertaining – it is created to speak to your audience and not Google.

34. “Content Marketing is an ad campaign”  “Content marketing is not a campaign — it’s an approach, a philosophy, and a business strategy.“ – Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute. This sentence says it all. You can have a video, a famous article or eBook – that does not make you a content marketer and it does certainly not make your company successful in content marketing. Content Marketing is much more than the content, it is the strategic and well tuned combination of producing, publishing, sharing content, communicating and interacting around content and being part of discussions with a goal in mind.

by Nicole Sheridan