Marketing Know-how

7 Common Marketing Myths You Need to Stop Believing

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There is lots of content out there about how to market your small business. And barely a week goes by without me coming across the usual marketing myths (in real life or online).

As with every profession, marketing can be a complete mystery for outsiders – I, for example, will never understand the intricacies of accounting! And, unfortunately, that makes it hard to tell good marketing advice from bad which leads to a lot of incorrect assumptions and overwhelm for small business owners.

It’s hardly surprising that, when faced with the following myths, a lot of small business owners try to avoid working on their marketing. But without putting the effort in, your business is unlikely to grow in the way it deserves to!

So, in this post, I’m going to cover 7 myths I’ve seen come up again and again. Ready? Let’s dive in!

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1. Marketing is either a dark art or a fluffy waste of time

I’ve grouped these two notions together because they are equally frustrating! And I’ve met people with opinions at both ends of this spectrum.

It’s easy to see where the former comes from. When met with some of the marketing jargon out there, it can feel inaccessible for beginners. This is why I find it so important to keep my content free of any obscure lingo or acronyms that could cause panic or put people off marketing entirely!

And the use of heavily salesy marketing tactics (like the unsolicited calls and emails that inundate us on a daily basis) doesn’t help marketing’s reputation either. It’s a bad approach to marketing in general and not of much use for small businesses in particular.

At the same time, you have people looking at funny instagram reels or TikTok videos and proclaiming that marketing is all fluff and facade, and a huge waste of time and money.

The truth is much simpler. Marketing is not rocket science but it is highly effective in connecting you with your ideal customers. It’s a way to get in front of the right people at the right time in the right place. This involves a strategy and tactics, both of which I’ve broken down in this post here.

Marketing might seem fluffy or evil at times, but done right it is a crucial part of any successful business. And with a little time and effort, I believe any small business owner can conquer it. It’s no impenetrable dark art!

2. Marketing costs a lot of money

It isn’t uncommon to hear people say they can’t afford to market their business. And while it’s true that some tactics do require a bit of investment, the idea that it always has to cost a lot of money is one of the biggest marketing myths!

Of course, having an ad on the radio or putting up billboards requires a lot of cash. But the reality is that most of the super pricey options aren’t right for a small business like yours anyway!

Here are a few options that won’t break the bank, and that can have a really positive impact:

  • Heading to a local networking event – often these are free or less than £10 a ticket.
  • Posting on your social media accounts – sure, you can pay for ads, but there is absolutely still a place for organic content online. Be sure to make the most of features like hashtags, location tags and tagging other accounts.
  • Printing out flyers to put in relevant local businesses – you can design your own flyers for free on Canva, and have them printed by a company like Solopress or VistaPrint for little money.
  • Your website! These days there are lots of great options for a highly professional website that doesn’t cost the earth. (I have a post listing a few of my favourite options.)
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3. Marketing is just about brand awareness

Now… there are varying opinions about the ratio, but marketing is made up of two things: brand awareness and transactional tactics. And you need both to grow your business.

Brand awareness is a way of consistently getting in front of your ideal clients and telling them everything about you: What you do, how you help, what costs are involved, what your values are and so on. It’s about educating them about your unique approach or product and getting them ready to say yes once they need what you offer. Or to get them to recommend you to their friend and family when they find themselves in a situation where you can help.

Transactional tactics are more about reaching out to people who are already looking to buy what you’re offering or, at least, they’re close to it. This is where you give them an easy way to order from you, the last piece of the puzzle that turns them from a potential to a paying client.

For a more detailed breakdown of what I mean here, check out my post on long term vs short term marketing. But in short: marketing is all about the mix, the education and the activation.

Without a healthy mix of both, it is unlikely that your business will be able to consistently generate sales, and sustain this for the long haul. So your strategy has to encompass every step of your customer journey.

This means, connecting with them as early as possible, before their need for your product or service has even arisen. And then staying with them from their initial exploration of your brand, right through to the moment they hit that “buy now” or “sign up” button.

4. You have to keep things “fresh”

This is a more complicated one of the common marketing myths! Obviously, over the years, it’s nice to change things up every now and again. Especially if your business has been around for a long time, there will occasionally be necessary tweaks to make to modernise or move with the times. This does not, however, mean that a full rebrand every few years is a good idea!

When it comes to running a successful business, consistency is key. People get to know and recognise your logo, your colour scheme, your fonts. Rebranding for the sake of it can lead to confusion, which can impact on sales.

This myth hits fertile ground because, let’s be honest, as business owners we get bored of our branding much sooner than our potential customers. Which makes sense – we’re looking at it all day, every day! But that is not a good enough reason to overhaul your marketing once you get bored of your colour scheme.

Your brand is the visual face of your business, so unless you are overhauling the entire business and turning it into something new, avoid making huge changes just for the sake of it.

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5. You need thousands of followers to be successful

This is probably one of the most common marketing myths I come across! The desire to have a huge following on social media is present in most small business owners. And it makes sense! Obviously, we’d all love to have thousands of people invested in what we’re doing.

The truth, however, is that you’re far better off having 50 engaged followers on a small business social media account, than 1,000 who don’t care. 50 people who interact with your content, share your posts, visit your website and buy from you or hire you? Great! 1,000 people who barely glance at your feed? Well, they might as well not be there.

Numbers truly aren’t everything, it’s all about quality over quantity. It’s what those numbers represent. Figure out how many sales you really need on a month-to-month basis.

If you only need to work with one new client a month, 50 engaged followers is incredible! So don’t get caught up on how things look. All that matters is how you make those followers work for you.

6. You need to be everywhere all at once

This is one of the marketing myths I’ve talked a lot about over the years. Often, when a new social media platform launches, I’ll have people ask me how they should go about getting started with it. When the real question is “if” they should!

It’s tempting to jump on every bandwagon. Seeing other businesses succeed on different platforms is enticing. But the reality is that your customers aren’t everywhere all at once. So neither should you be.

Before diving into a new tactic, really sit with it. Consider if you have anything new to bring to the table. Think about how much time this new venture will take away from the platforms you have already invested time and effort into. And think about your audience – do they even fit the demographics of this shiny new platform?

Equally importantly, does this new platform play to your strengths? Is it something you would enjoy doing? Say, for example, it’s a video based platform, but you hate being on camera. How long could you really sustain forcing yourself to use a channel that feels so unnatural to you?

You absolutely don’t have to be everywhere. In fact, I would encourage you not to be. Trying to do too many things spreads you too thin, causes overwhelm and means you can’t give any one thing your full attention. So be choosy when it comes to where you invest your time.

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7. Marketing is not measurable

And last, but not least, one of my favourites – when it comes to marketing myths, this is one so many firmly believe. That marketing is not measurable (which often goes hand-in-hand with its “fluffy” reputation).

Did you know that a customer needs to encounter you in average seven times, across a range of points of contact, to begin to recognise and remember you? I have a whole post on touchpoint marketing if you want to find out more about this.

What is more accurate to say is that you’re not going to see results day one. That simply isn’t how marketing works. And, in this world of instant gratification, that can be hard for people to get their heads around.

So it might take a while to see measurable results coming in. But measurable they are! Look at your website stats, social media following growth, email open rate and, obviously, your sales. I have a whole post exploring how to measure your success here.

Obviously, you can directly track the success of online campaigns through your specific platform analytics. And for offline marketing, try to include something specific like a discount code or downloadable freebie that will help you track where certain activity is coming from. Or, even easier, have a process in place to ask customers at the point of sale where they heard about you.

When you’ve worked hard on your blog and your website SEO, keep an eye on your web traffic. Or when you’ve launched a new social media account and created a manageable strategy, keeping consistent each week – take a look at your analytics regularly. Over time, you’ll see the difference it makes to your business.

KEEP READING

If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
The Key Ingredients for Successful Small Business Marketing
How Your Business Size Impacts Marketing – a Guide for Small Business Owners
What Exactly IS Marketing? OR: Marketing Strategy v Marketing Tactics
5 Small Business Marketing Truths You Need to Know About

Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.