Lately I’ve been speaking with colleagues, business owners, and fellow marketing professionals in the industry and it’s what we talked about that prompted me to write this post. There’s been a common thread in each one of these conversations about how what we do as marketers is often misunderstood. Like that broken telephone game we’ve all played as children, the stories being told just keep on perpetuating myths about what marketing is and what it isn’t. It’s both sad and ironic that we as marketing professionals can’t come together and start telling our own story. We are too busy working with clients and against each other that we’ve become the shoemakers without shoes! This is too often our reality because most of us are so client focused that we neglect our own marketing plans and initiatives. Well, I’ll be the first to admit we are doing a terrible job at controlling our own message that we have become part of the problem instead of the solution.
My hope is that after reading this post these myths and misconceptions are dispelled. So in the list below I’m addressing each one of them one by one.
Myth #1: Anyone Can Do It
Everyone has taken a marketing course or two in school I’m sure, and for those few who haven’t there are an infinite number of books and resources out there on the topic as well. However, reading these and taking a course or two doesn’t necessarily make you an expert. Otherwise, I would be an expert at accounting, taxes, business coaching, and a slew of other things. Instead I have an accountant and coach for my business because I believe their specialized expertise will serve my business best. But the experts in this industry not only come with a tremendous amount of marketing experience but they’ve studied the science and psychology of marketing as well. They’ve tried and tested so many different marketing plans and approaches that anyone would find it hard to stack up to the knowledge and experience they’ve gained. For example, did you know that even during our most recent 78 election campaign the reason why most candidates wear either a red or blue tie is because these same marketing experts have advised them to do so based on colour psychology. Yes, colours are very powerful communicators and can bring about certain feelings, emotions, thought patterns.In fact, Justin Trudeau our new Prime Minister sometimes didn’t wear a tie altogether right during his campaign, why do you think that was? Likely it was a way to relate to his target audience showing himself as belonging to the same demographic (the middle class) or at least give them that impression like “look, he’s one of us”. It’s really mind-boggling when you consider just how many things we either buy into or don’t based on the marketing and how they are presented to us. He wore a red tie when he won which is known as the “power tie” because it arouses feelings of passion and makes people wearing appear as decisive, bold, and assertive.
Myth #2: Marketers Are Really Just A Bunch of “Wacky” Creative Folks
Ok ok, some of us are (myself included). Ingenuity does seem to lend itself out most often to the wacky, weird, artsy, and weird. Still, there’s definitely a method to the madness and if you’ve ever sat in on a brainstorming session at an agency you’ll see what I’ve seen. A room full of “marketeers” that work tirelessly at putting the most creative and effective marketing campaigns together. These campaigns are strategically primed and positioned for a specific target audience, trigger psychological and emotional responses, and motivate a desired response. There’s so many talented and creative individuals in this industry. But because this industry naturally attracts those with an adoration for the creative, being creative doesn’t necessarily make you special. Anyone with a pulse is creative in their own way. What makes you talented in this industry is knowing how to turn creative visions into reality, but most importantly a palatable one. You aren’t just creating something that YOU think is great. You are creating something your team thinks is great, the client thinks is great, and target audience thinks is great too. Now, that’s a whole lot of people to please! Most talented artists ooze creativity but even they hire marketing and sales professionals to position their work properly and sell it to a buyer.
Myth #3: Marketing = Sales
Just because you are an excellent salesperson does not mean you a marketing guru. Marketing and sales should never be confused as the same thing because they are very different. Marketing is dealing with the masses while selling has to do more with that one on one process. Marketing drives people from not knowing much about a product or service at all to intrigue and interest. While sales and the process of selling is all about bringing that prospect from mere interest to an actual transaction. Now, there isn’t a professional designation for sales people but there really should be one because selling really is an art and most sales professionals aren’t ever given enough credit for what they do. Their ability to engage someone who’s mildly interested, earn their trust, and then persuade them to purchase a product or service is nothing short of amazing. Even the most natural born sales people have to train themselves to overcome fears of rejection and talking with complete strangers before they finally become experts in their field.
So how’s marketing different? Marketing is about persuading a group of people rather than just one individual. A target audience that can be 10 or 10 billion people who have to be led from wherever they are in the buying cycle to that mild interest so that they can be sold from there. Marketing is meant to empower the sales people not replace them and this is often the other biggest fear or misconception. Marketing is not about replacing a sales person at all, it’s all about moving someone away from a group of people so that a sales person can do what they do best. Picture yourself at a party and that person you really want to talk to is surrounded by a group of people. It’s a lot harder to approach that person isn’t it? Well marketing is what would pull that person away from the group so that you can speak to them one on one and say what you’d like to say to them now that you know they are interested and listening.
If the average sale takes 12 touches then imagine a world where marketing replaces half or more of those with effective campaigns. Then the sales people get to do more of what they love to do and are great at – SELLING! This is not just possible, but it’s what exactly what we great “marketeers” do. Not only that, marketing solutions can be automated so that when you are short on sales staff, resources, or get too busy delivering, your marketing strategy is still working and driving those interested prospects your way. This ensures your business is scalable and will function more on it’s own. This is what increases it’s value and makes your business lucrative to investors or prospective buyers.
Myth #4: Marketing Doesn’t Produce A Real Return
It’s so sad to hear this one over and over again. But it’s definitely a common misconception so I’ll do my best to speak to it because it couldn’t be further from the truth. This misconception comes from the sense that the investment in marketing isn’t in tangible goods or services so it doesn’t produce any trackable returns. Even worse, is that we keep on perpetuating the confusion of some tangible products and services for marketing. For example, a website is a marketing tool, but it’s not all there is to marketing. It’s only a small piece of a larger marketing strategy or plan.
Let’s go back to the science and psychology of marketing and how that factored into the elections. More specifically, the colour of a tie candidates sported or no tie where Justin was concerned, was not the only reason Justin won. However, the marketing strategy behind that combined with many other pieces of his marketing plan were definitely a factor in him winning. A marketing plan or strategy (especially a great one) will always consider each and every point of contact with potential buyers/consumers/clients and leverage the use of tools and resources to powerfully communicate a message to a large group of people. It will also help the front line sales people by creating a platform and conversation for them to now continue one on one. So Justin’s campaign is a great example of a marketing win. He was positioned properly and the message that was conveyed to a large group of people resonated with those he wanted to vote for him. Not saying his campaign was perfect or free of any flaws, but it proved to be more successful than his running mates which was all he needed to win.
So there is a returned but it’s a combined effect and that’s why it can’t actually be measured. But it’s definitely difficult to have all these pieces and parts align perfectly and harmoniously but when they do it’s magical! This is also why there is no one size fits all solution but rather a slightly unique approach depending on the product/service and the target audience you’re going after.
Myth #5: Before I Start Marketing It Has To Be Perfect
If this were how anything in life went then I’m pretty sure none of us would even exist because many of us weren’t planned. I believe in careful planning and having a marketing strategy, yes 100% I do. But that goal of perfection is an illusive notion I will never support. Marketing is mostly about experimentation and actually executing on something and then seeing what worked and what didn’t and modifying your strategy as you go. No plan is ever 100% perfect and marketing is no different. However, what I will say is that a plan and strategy will keep you focused and targeted so that you aren’t spinning your wheels or trying to get something done last-minute because you decided to rent a booth last-minute at a trade show.
The most common thing I hear from most business owners is the exhaustive list of things they think they need to accomplish BEFORE they start doing any marketing and it’s crazy! Firstly, it will never be perfect and what’s more productive than aiming for perfection is aiming at something. Have a plan and START implementing right away! Just like in life those who have learned the most failed the most, those who have marketed the most have learned the most. Now I get the budget constraints some business owners face and failing can be costly but that’s why taking the time to work on your business and learn about marketing by experts in the field is important.
As business owners we all know that up and down cycle of sourcing new business and servicing or delivering to the new business we source. But when you have a marketing plan you are proactive, targeted, and focused. It allows you to switch gears more quickly and evolve or adapt when necessary which is a huge advantage in any market place. This is something Karrots Inc. has done really well with and every year we’ve experienced rapid growth and it’s all because we have an air tight marketing plan and strategy. It’s been quite common for us to hit our revenue goals by our third quarter when we do all we do next is implement what’s next up in our marketing plan and keep on having that same success year over year.
Myth #6: Marketing Is The Same Thing As Advertising…Right?
Wrong. We might suggest advertising at times if it makes sense as part of a marketing strategy but it is definitely not the same thing as advertising. Advertising has a cost that is associated mostly to viewership or readership. Usually there is also no guarantee that anyone will in fact take action after seeing an ad but they do promise exposure and will often give you the demographics and numbers associated to how many people will actually see your ad (or hear it on the radio). Moreover, it can be very costly to advertise and this is why more often than not I’ll recommend online marketing solutions over advertising to my own clients. Some businesses need that increased exposure and awareness. But otherwise, because there is no guaranteed return on that investment I tend to include advertising only as part of a larger and more involved marketing plan. A dollar can stretch a lot further online but that’s not to say that advertising doesn’t serve a purpose. There definitely is a case for some companies to advertise depending on what their product/service is, but this is usually a very rare case for small businesses. Small businesses, especially startups, are looking to capitalize on more immediate returns rather than increased exposure without any guarantees so it tends to be a risky investment for them. Small companies are extremely risk averse so it’s difficult to justify them spending thousands on it without knowing exactly what kind of returns to expect.
There’s a real science to marketing that is not always shared or even revealed by marketing agencies. This is why we’ve made it our mission at Karrots Inc. to educate our clients on what goes on behind the scenes a bit more than most agencies. That transparency has earned us their trust over the years and we don’t plan on ever-changing that. I can understand why some have tried to keep the science of marketing a secret. There’s always that fear that if you give it away no one will see the use for marketing professionals at all when they can do it themselves. But, it’s this same secrecy that has led to these misconceptions about our industry and what it is that we do. But as long as a chef can make a living cooking then there’s always going to be a need for marketing professionals. Chefs have learned their way around the kitchen and all things cookery like no other and know exactly which ingredients and flavours go well together. They aim to please whoever is on the other end of the fork. A talented marketing professional is a lot like a chef in that sense. They too select the best ingredients and put them together in just the right amounts all aimed at stimulating the appetites of those in their desired target market.
Marketing and creating a plan should be custom tailored to you, your business, and your goals. No matter what your size, every business needs a strategic marketing plan to ensure time and resources are used in the best way possible. If you’re not sure where to start, we have a workshop made for you: Karrots Konfidential: DIY Strategic Marketing for Success. This workshop provides you with all of the necessary tools to create the ideal marketing plan for your business. You’ll walk into this workshop with goals to grow your business, and walk out with all of the ingredients and a recipe for success.