Debunking 3 Common Marketing Misconceptions


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Here’s a riddle for you:

  • What is the most integral part of driving demand for your business, but the first thing you cut when times are tough?
  • What part of our business do we put the most pressure on getting results from but struggle with allocating resources to?
  • What is one of our biggest frustrations when it comes to our business, but also an area that we have never taken the time to fully understand?

If you guessed marketing, you’d be right.

I write this as a wake-up call to business owners everywhere who feel like marketing is this mythical unicorn that is too difficult or time-consuming to understand. Or worse, they just don’t care because they are too busy doing everything else in their business. Time constraints are real, do not get me wrong, but what is more important in your business than connecting with the people you want to buy from you?

Marketing is a megaphone for your brand. You could have the coolest product or service out there, but if no one knows about it, all you really have is an expensive hobby. Business owners have sky-high expectations of marketing, but I would argue this tends to be the piece of the business they understand least. Furthermore, at the first sign of danger, they’re ready to pull the parachute: fire the agency, cut the budget, do a rebrand, etc.

What gives?

For one, marketing is not like finance, accounting or operations. With those functions, we get black-and-white, cut-and-dry answers. We put this pressure on our marketing as well. ‘What was the Return on Ad Spend?’ or ‘We need to see the data!’

We fail to understand that while marketing metrics can tell us the what, they don’t tell us the why. Marketing is the part of our business that deals with people. It’s going to get complicated.

The relationship between marketing and the business can often feel contentious. This makes me sad, as I would argue this should be the best relationship within the business. How can we make it better? First, I think we need to better understand one another. So, I came up with my top three misconceptions that I think can help us reframe how we think about marketing.

Related: The Miley Cyrus Approach To Marketing — Why It’s a Radically Different Method For Achieving Brand Impact

Misconception #1: Marketing = Sales

Marketing’s job is not solely to drive sales (I can hear some business owners clutching their pearls as I type this); it’s to make your product desirable and known to the people likely to buy it. Said simply, it’s to say the right stuff to the right people. Marketing done well drives demand and makes it simple to buy. The actual sale depends on how good your product or service really is.

In addition, great marketing does not just involve promotion — it actually involves developing your offer, pricing and strategy as well. Think about it: who knows your customers better than your marketing team? They are literally on the ground level talking with customers every day. When you are developing offers, they are the first people you should ask. They’re the bridge between you and the customer.

Related: 3 Common Misconceptions About Marketing Your Business

Misconception #2: I don’t really need to be involved with my marketing

Let me set the scene. You own a business. You hire a marketing person or agency. You say, “Here it is. Go sell it on the mountaintops — see you later.”

You expect marketing to work in this vacuum all on its own. That’s why you hired them, right? Wrong. Communication with your marketing team is crucial to your success as a business owner. I go back to marketing being that megaphone for your business. If you aren’t providing them feedback on what you like/don’t like, what’s going on behind the scenes, your story and thoughts on what is happening in the industry, what do you expect them to market?

I’m not saying you need to do their jobs for them — I am saying that you need to be active in the content they post, how they tell our story and what our POV is. In short, you and your marketing team should be like peas and carrots. Not just someone they send a report to once a month.

Related: 7 Metrics to Evaluate the Success of Your Marketing Campaigns

Misconception #3: I need to see results in the first 30 days

We all want the magic marketing bullet. It does not exist. Marketing is like the scientific method. It’s testing, adjusting and getting creative. Over and over and over again. Until the end of time, really. Again, this is what makes it different. We all get swayed by those agencies showing us case studies where they 10x’ed revenue for a company in the first month.

We love this idea of it happening now, and it keeps improving over time. Show me somewhere that’s happened like that. Any result is going to take at least 90 days to see. Longer-term branding initiatives can take 3-4 business quarters to start showing up. I know, it sucks. I get it. If you want to see results, you must be patient and realistic. Anyone in marketing who tells you they can guarantee a result is lying. Every business is different. There are no guarantees. So instead of looking at it as ‘I need to see 3x ROI in the first month’, can we instead be curious about what good results look like for us?

Yes, this requires patience and Investment. If you look at it from the flip side, however, you spent all this time, effort and energy creating your business — why wouldn’t you want to invest in it and have the patience to see it grow? Rome was not built in a day. Your marketing program can’t be either.

Marketing can be difficult. There are so many factors to consider that are unique to every business, including your customer base and our environment. Complexity doesn’t mean bad, it simply means different. So I am advocating we start thinking differently about it to make it more effective. Step 1 is to understand what marketing really is so you can make it work for you.



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