Did you know that the show MythBusters ran for 15 seasons and aired nearly 300 episodes?¹ Holy cow! It’s fair to say human beings are addicted to myths, old wives’ tales (we all secretly believe they’re true, right?), and hidden discoveries. Myth busting is a great way to keep us honest and appreciate the underappreciated—so it’s high time to do a little marketing myth busting with the 10 most common marketing myths you need to know!
If you’re a business owner or in a profession outside of marketing, I guarantee you have or have had more than one incorrect, preconceived notion about marketing. Some people think marketing is easy or a waste of time, or should be the first expense to be cut during a recession. Well, if you believe that to be true, tell that to Steve Jobs, Proctor and Gamble, Virgin America, or Tony Robbins—they’ll laugh you out of the building and into a rather uncomfortable shareholder meeting.
Why Is Marketing So Misunderstood?
Oftentimes many may feel that marketing is a fluffy, superficial, low-skilled profession not really deserving of the respect its results can offer businesses and shareholders. Are you guilty of this? C’mon, I won’t tell anyone. If you are, it’s ok; luckily you’re likely addicted to the juicy curiosities of myth busting and can now move on with your life better informed with a reality check. 🙂
Marketing Myth #1. Businesses Don’t Need a Marketing Plan
Yep, there’s those who feel like if they have a decent sales force, a good product or service, a car and cellphone allowance, and some referrals, a marketing plan is not needed.
The Reality: The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 400,000 new businesses are started every year in the USA, and 470,000 die each year.²
Every business needs a marketing plan—yes, yours too. Without some type of marketing plan to attract and keep your customers, you’re simply shooting in the dark—or better yet, hoping the boogeyman will bring you that bag of cash you asked Santa Claus for last year.
You need some type of repeatable, measurable marketing framework to help you determine if those seat-of-your-pants decisions you’re making are worth the time, effort, and money. You can’t improve results or reach goals if you have no historical footprint or plan as a basis. To learn how to establish a simple marketing framework, start here.
Marketing Myth #2. Marketing Doesn’t Require Technical Training
I love this one. It’s as if “wannabe marketing people” simply wake up, roll out of bed, come up with an idea, and they’re suddenly a marketing genius.
The Reality: Marketing experts and talents can spend years and entire lifetimes honing their craft. This includes not only formal academic training, but also garnering a deep understanding of human behavior, communication strategies, public relations tactics, needs vs. wants, and lead generation fostering—to name just a few.
I can assure you that writers have technical skill that takes years to master. Proofreaders, for example, are some of the most educated folks around—have you picked up an English book lately? Presentation skills, email marketing, project management, graphic design, audience needs assessment, and more are all highly trained professions that take dedication—just as physical therapists, chefs, or doctors must study, read, and train to become proficient.
Marketing Myth #3. Marketing Should Be the First Expense Cut in a Financial Crunch
This is the bane of many a business downfall.
The Reality: If you were stranded on a boat in the middle of the ocean, would you toss your life preservers overboard to keep from weighing the boat down? That’s essentially what you’re doing when you cut marketing expenses as a first option in a financial crunch.
Marketing should NEVER be viewed as an expendable resource.
Listen, we all need to streamline and scale our businesses and trim costs to effectively compete. I get it. But thinking you can somehow cut marketing now and ramp up later is dangerous and you may not get the opportunity to ramp back up, ever.
You need your core marketing team in place at all times: your strategic thought-leaders, your expert executors, your crafty copywriters, and your creative designers. Whether or not you outsource these functions is irrelevant; the point is that you need these functions to exist within your business in order to survive.
Marketing is your engine for growth, not a hindrance to it.
Marketing Myth #4. Marketers Don’t Need to Be Good at Math
As someone who loves math, this one makes me chuckle.
The Reality: Marketing is a numbers game (who knew?). The majority, if not all, of the folks on your marketing team should understand ROI, print production and cost-per-piece calculations, costs of goods or services sold, profit margins, retention calculations, percent change formulas, chart and graph development, email open rates vs. click thru rate vs. click-to-open rates, leads per day, close ratios, website bounce rates, customer lifetime valuations…and the list goes on.
Savvy marketers understand that buy one get one free = 50% off! Be careful not to fall into believing this myth or you may find yourself low on cash flow or acquiring customers at a steep loss—or even closing your doors.
Marketing Myth #5. All Marketing People Are Extroverts
The Reality: Most people are introverts,³ and marketers are no exception. Marketing people can often be seen as social butterflies who love nothing better than happy hour, corporate retreats, and speech-giving. For some it’s true; for most it’s not.
There are tons of marketing and sales people who would rather not network or give a big speech, but would rather reenergize their creative juices by reading a good book.
Marketing people are deep thinkers, insightful and analytical, writers, and numbers folks who don’t need constant stimulation from the external world, as some would assume.
They can focus intently on solutions to help your business thrive—not bad in my book. Finally, research suggests that creativity often comes from seclusion.4
Marketing Myth #6. Marketers Are All Liars
The Reality: The act of selling and marketing products and services has gotten a bad rap because of unscrupulous nellies who use deception and trickery to get the sale. This is NOT the case for the majority of marketers.
The simple fact is that misrepresenting a product or service WILL NOT result in sustainable growth, so smart marketing people don’t practice it. Most sales and marketing professionals work very hard to make a living selling a product or service they truly believe in, and demonstrate honestly how the solution can make a positive impact on the lives of their target audiences.
Marketing Myth #7. Marketing Is Easy
The Reality: Did you know 50% of all businesses fail in the first five years.5 There are some that think just about anyone can “do marketing.” Marketing is hard and takes persistence, creativity, strategy, planning, commitment, talent, analysis, testing, money, diligence, and patience. Easy? Not so much.
According to successharbor.com, one of the primary reasons businesses fail is a lack of marketing6 and “failing to attract paying customers in a cost effective way. You might have a product people are willing to pay for, but you can’t figure out a way to market it in a cost effective way. If it costs you more money to get a new customer than you can afford you don’t have a business.”
Marketing Myth #8. Good Sales People Don’t Need Marketing
The Reality: Even the best sales person needs marketing’s support. Why? Even after a sales or prospect meeting has occurred and the customer has said yes or no (even for the moment), marketing’s job is to help reinforce the messages delivered by sales and act as a constant reminder in the customers’ mind for what they either will receive or what they missed or are missing out on.
After the prospect meeting with sales—the company website, follow-up communications, social media posts, advertisements, billboards, direct mail, events, etc. act as a 1-2-3-4-5-punch to the efforts of sales, and the result is 2+2=10 for message and branding amplification.
Sales needs marketing and marketing needs sales. When a sales force does exist, sales and marketing need to have a peaceful symbiotic relationship where one is not superior to the other. After all, when sales wants to be able to present the newest shiny thing, where does that new shiny “thing” come from? It comes from marketing.
Marketing Myth #9. Superior Marketing Can Fix a Mediocre Product
The Reality: Sorry, wrong again__85% of new consumer packaged goods (CPG) products fail within two years!7
Just as sales and marketing need to have a symbiotic relationship, so does the product/service quality and marketing. Things like customer reviews, user experience, social media, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) hotline do a pretty good job of magnifying the weaknesses of just about every product.
Superior marketing may bring in leads and curious prospects, but it will never be able to take a product or service from mediocre to magnificent.
Marketing Myth #10. Good Products Sell Themselves
The Reality: Don’t we all wish this were true? Tell you what, let’s just get up right now from our computers and laptops, go home, back a bag, and take a permanent vacation. (Time to wake up!)
EVERY product or service needs to be sold, positioned, and marketed. If this weren’t the case we wouldn’t see commercials on television for things like milk, water, or eggs. Even toilet tissue comes in hundreds of brands. Products rarely sell themselves.
It’s marketing’s job to do what can be referred to as “connect the dots.” Marketing must connect the dots between need, desire, and action. Marketing must offer a problem/solution scenario in a creative way and prove how the product or solution will make your customers’ lives easier.
The Bottom Line
If you’re a business owner or someone outside of marketing, I guarantee you’ve held several, incorrect preconceived notions about marketing.
My goal was to demonstrate the importance of marketing to your business, product, service, or brand. Marketing is not something that should be taken lightly or taken for granted as being easy.
It’s marketing that understands how to connect the dots—and that takes skill, dedication, persistence, and training. Don’t believe any of these marketing myths outlined above.