I spend a lot of my time on the speaking scene educating business owners about the importance of marketing and why it should never take a back seat in any business. What I come across a lot is the perception of what marketing is. So I thought I would dispel a few myths and get us all singing from the same hymn sheet.
Marketing is just advertising and sales: Although advertising and sales are integral to any marketing plan, they don’t stand alone. In reality, marketing is educating your target market about your products and services and why they should choose you over your competition. Obviously the aim for any business is to achieve a sale, but there’s a lot that goes on within the buying process to get to that point. In my opinion, marketing is everything you do as a business which affects the customer.
Great marketing works instantly: Although marketing can shorten a sales cycle and some tactics can produce instant results, great marketing is about repetition – being there when your customer is ready to buy. Just because you are ready to sell doesn’t mean your customer is ready to purchase. Marketing is an investment and like all good investments it takes time.
Lower prices encourage more people to buy: I meet many business owners, especially start-ups, who automatically drop their price to enter the market. Lower prices work as part of a short-term campaign i.e. trialling of a new product/service, but ultimately competing on cost is very difficult to sustain. Look at the value you are offering to your customer and price accordingly. This is where knowing your customers really well comes into play.
Offering a broad range of products and services leads to more sales: This is where you can fall foul of being a ‘jack of all trades’. Too many options can confuse buyers. There is nothing wrong is targeting a niche market and being a specialist in your field. So take a look at how you can segment your market and which segments can provide a sustainable income, then focus on these.
Email marketing is no longer effective due to spam: I still use email marketing a lot as part of my activity. Identify what you want to achieve and why email marketing is the right tool to use. Then ensure you write your email to generate maximum impact. After all, people want information and email is a great way to get your message out there – just make sure your recipients have opted-in.
Online marketing is all you need: I come across this a lot. Many small businesses owners have run with online because of its cost-effectiveness, but offline activity still has an important part to play in any marketing strategy. Integrating both on and offline marketing is what generates the best results for most businesses. So keep hold of your business card, branded pen and leaflet and support this with your website, email and video campaigns.
Messages need to change often to keep things fresh: I’m sorry, but consistency and repetition is a marketer’s best friend. You may be bored of your message, but your audience won’t be. It’s around now that your message is starting to sink in, so stick with it and only change it if there is a valid business reason.
Advertising sells products: Continuous advertising builds brand awareness and can generate leads, but it very rarely leads to a conversion without involving another form of marketing. You need to attract prospects then educate them all via regular contact with your business. This then develops the trust required to convert the lead into a sale.
Partnerships and alliances are for larger companies: I recommend these types of partnerships to start-ups and SMEs, because these are the businesses which in reality can’t do it all. Having partners you can trust, to offer a service or product that you can’t, helps your customer get what they need while increasing your resources, exposure and client base. Package this up and you can offer your clients more value for their money.
Marketing is expensive: Whether you agree with me or not, good effective marketing should not cost you a fortune. The reason many of you will believe marketing is expensive is, because you a) don’t have a marketing plan in place so are unable to determine if what you are doing is the right thing b) don’t have any measures in place to evaluate your activity c) just doing little bits of marketing without knowing why, d) putting all your money into advertising. I always start with a budget of zero and take it from there…and so can you.
Jean Atkinson is the founder of Marketing Minds Academy which was established to bring hands-on practical training to marketing professionals and help business owners increase their profit through the use of effective marketing.