Busting Widespread Misconceptions That Can Hinder Your Marketing Efforts
On the once highly popular Mythbusters TV series which ran for 17 seasons, the science-minded hosts did a lot of elaborate and fun experiments, blowing up a lot of stuff along the way, all in an effort to dispel or validate popular so-called myths. When it comes to busting prevalent marketing myths, it’s hard to match that level of excitement and spectacle, but if you’re looking for insight that’s useful to your business, this blog should do the trick more than any crash test, rocket launch, or cannon blast would.
Call them misconceptions, lies, half-truths, myths, or whatever you like, but these five widely-held beliefs about marketing are just plain wrong and dangerous to your brand, and it would do you and your business well to stop believing them:
MYTH #1: Marketing is Purely About Peddling Your Wares
The Merriam-Webster definition of marketing most suitable to this discussion is “the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.” That’s what most people typically think of when they think of marketing. More specifically, they think of the many channels involved, including broadcast commercials, digital ads, promotional mailers, emails, billboards, and so forth.
Granted, these are vital components to marketing, but the business discipline itself is a much more nuanced undertaking involving in-depth research, purposeful strategy, a multi-faceted omni-channel approach (if you’re doing it right), and continual assessment and refinement.
It isn’t just about making people aware of your product and getting them to purchase it. That may deliver short-term success. In order to win the long game and consistently increase profits and growth, marketing seeks to build lasting, mutually beneficial connections between brands and their customers.
It’s about messaging that resonates with your target audience, creates a consistent brand identity that fosters trust and loyalty, and conveys that you’re their best choice to meet their unique needs.
MYTH #2: Marketing & Communications Are a Volatile Mix
For the longest time, the vast majority of businesses have viewed marketing and communications (or what many call public relations) as two completely different entities and have treated them as such, separating them into silos which rarely interact.
When you’d want a press release or crisis comms plan, you’d go to communications. When you’d want an ad, campaign, mailer, or social media post, you’d go to marketing. Similarly, for marketing help, businesses have tended to go to agencies that specialize only in marketing, and for PR help, ones that specialize only in communications.
This is unfortunate, because the combination is much more chocolate and peanut butter than Mentos and Coke. In other words, the two work better together, whether you have internal departments or are using outside help.
Marketing and communications both play essential roles in helping a company achieve its overall goals. While marketing tends to focus on branding, advertising, and connecting with existing and potential customers, communications concentrates more on maintaining a brand’s reputation and shaping media, community, and general public perception. The thing is, these disciplines are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they constantly overlap and intertwine.
This means that their strategies and messaging must be aligned with each other in order to tell the same story across all channels. Every touchpoint with customers, the media, and the public should reflect the company’s values and goals. The most efficient and powerful way of doing this is through teamwork between marketing and communications, a combined effort to create one unified voice and clear brand identity. This is why a fully integrated agency like M:7 that weaves the two together harmoniously is your best bet for success.
MYTH #3: Targeting Everyone at Once is the Best Strategy
Seems like it checks out: The larger the pool of people hearing your message, the larger the response and better the conversion chances should be. However, most businesses don’t have the kind of capital to reach everyone and targeting a specific audience that is more prone to buy what you’re selling is more feasible and effective anyway. (This is especially true for businesses that serve mostly local and regional audiences.)
Your product or service likely won’t appeal to everyone, so why market to everyone? One of the crucial first steps in the marketing process is getting to the bottom of who your ideal audience is and diving into their personas, demographics, and psychological makeup so you can better understand, communicate with, and target them.
Nailing down your target audience lets you narrow down just how, where, and when to market, which lets you use your resources more wisely and efficiently. It increases your odds for achieving not only better numbers but also stronger, lasting relationships because your customers will come to realize that you and your business really get them and are committed to meeting their needs.
By first focusing on finding out who your ideal customers actually are, you’ll save much more time and money going forward, while sharpening your overall marketing and communications focus.
MYTH #4: Digital Marketing Has Made Traditional Marketing Unnecessary
Without a doubt, digital marketing has been the golden goose of marketing for some time now, outshining tried-and-true traditional methods such as broadcast TV and radio, direct mail, billboards, and others. That’s what happens when something as revolutionary as the Internet becomes the easiest, most convenient way to shop, and often a more affordable way to market. Today, digital marketing is essential for just about every business. However, that doesn’t mean it’s all you need or even your business’s most important channel to target.
During a 2023 survey, chief marketing officers in the U.S. said that their digital spending grew by 8.2% over the previous year, while traditional advertising spending decreased by 2.6%. However, another recent survey predicted that, by the end of 2023, the annual spending on non-digital advertising worldwide would amount to nearly $306.8 billion and by 2026, it is forecast to surpass $314.5 billion — an increase of 2.5% over the course of three years. This shows that, while digital marketing tends to dominate the marketplace, traditional marketing isn’t going anywhere.
How do you know if and when to add traditional marketing to your overall strategy? This is where it pays to know your audience and the communication channels they prefer and use most. For instance, younger consumers clearly spend more time on the Internet, listening to podcasts, interacting on social media, and viewing streaming media. Meanwhile, older consumers still listen to local radio and read their mailers. While TV is still a powerful marketing channel for all generations, it’s especially popular with Baby Boomers for whom it remains their top form of brand discovery.
An effective marketing strategy often incorporates both online and traditional offline tactics into its campaigns. A well-placed, well-thought-out, in-store display, radio ad, direct mail piece, or TV commercial can be more precise and powerful than digital means, depending on your audience and offerings.
MYTH #5: Anyone Can Handle Your Marketing, Including Robots
Tell me you don’t understand marketing without telling me you don’t understand marketing.
Whether it’s your teenage niece who’s studying design or your VP of sales who’s “got this,” thinking that just about anyone can handle your marketing is a highly dangerous myth to believe.
As mentioned earlier, marketing has many levels and complex aspects to it, far beyond a few social media posts, billboards, or email blasts. It involves everything from research and strategy, to writing and graphic design, to analysis and refinement, and typically takes more skill, effort, and know-how than novices have. Clever ideas or decent design skills are all well and good, but it takes true professionals to develop and execute a successful marketing plan.
Today, putting your marketing in just about anyone’s hands isn’t the only mistake some are making. There’s now artificial intelligence (A.I.) and the belief that machines can do marketing just as good, if not better, than humans.
The dystopian nightmare of robots taking over the world has been confined mostly to the realm of science fiction for nearly a century, but the idea has been gaining more real-world traction lately, what with its rapidly advancing technology. Thankfully, for now, most of the talk around A.I. involves its increasing ability to take over everyday tasks in the business world, including marketing.
While A.I. is useful for automating tedious tasks and producing basic content by utilizing customer data and insights, it likely will never surpass the human touch when it comes to understanding and communicating with a target audience. More complex pieces like full campaigns, social media interaction, and engaging blog writing involve nuance that machines have difficulty replicating. For right now, A.I. like Chat GPT and Jasper is little more than lazy marketing which potential customers are savvy enough to see through.
Because your marketing is so vital to your brand’s success, it’s best to leave it to living, breathing professionals.
These are just five of the many marketing myths that continue to permeate today’s business world and can hold your brand back from moving forward and exploring new opportunities.
As a fully integrated, award-winning marketing and communications agency, M:7 focuses on building long-term relationships between a brand and its audience on a path toward real growth. Our omni-channel approach offers everything you need to connect with your customers — from digital solutions such as websites, social media, email, and ads to traditional ones such as signage, print, and broadcast commercials.