The Truth about Marketing: What Small Business Owners Need to Know
There are a number of “little white” marketing lies out there. And as a small business owner, you’ve likely come to believe quite a few of them. The problem is that believing these seemingly harmless lies and not understanding the truth about marketing can affect your business’s success and ability to scale…
So, we felt it was our duty to dispel some lies that you may have told yourself or heard from others. It’s vital that you know the truth so you can be fully informed and make the best decisions for your growing company.
Now, are you ready? Then let’s talk lies!
Here are some of the lies that can hinder small business success…
1) Marketing Is Not a Priority for Small Businesses
It’s not uncommon for small business owners to rely on grassroots word-of-mouth recommendations to power their small but growing business—and throw out everything else.
While we aren’t against word-of-mouth marketing (we discuss it in length here), this is not enough to fuel your business for the long term. Do you want to grow your business? Do you want to steadily gain more customers? What if word-of-mouth recommendations run out? Do you have another way to market your brand?
It may seem like prioritizing marketing is counterintuitive (we understand), but in reality, the opposite is true.
Recent small business marketing stats, as reported by Fundera, show that…
- 90% of small business marketers say that social media has increased their business’s exposure.
- 75% of small businesses think that digital marketing is effective or very effective for attracting new customers.
- Email is the top marketing tool at 54% of small business usage, and email marketing enjoys an ROI of 122%.
Also, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers are spending more time on their computers and less time in stores. This has made it harder for businesses to survive without jumping into digital marketing to find and attract their customers.
2) SEO Is Shady and Doesn’t Work Anymore
You know that one problematic kid in your 5th grade class who prevented you from going on the class trip—because if one kid was bad, everyone got punished? This is exactly what has happened to search engine optimization. A few marketers with poor habits tried to game the system, so Google has to constantly update its algorithm to provide the best answers to keyword queries without allowing poor quality content to find its way into the results.
The point is that just because a few (or more) greedy marketers valued their monetary return more than providing valuable content, it doesn’t mean that SEO is no longer effective. In fact, ranking well in the search engines and getting traffic has become easier for customer-centric marketers who produce high-value content. This is because their content is no longer crowded out by low-quality, greed-driven rubbish.
SEO (done right as part of a cohesive marketing strategy) is a powerful long-term tactic that every business should be taking advantage of in some capacity.
Here’s a tip: Make sure to start now, as search engine optimization takes some time to get results. But, when it does, it can provide a solid stream of income for your business.
3) Everyone Who Reads Your Content Will Love It
You post your first blog, share it on your social profiles, and wait in anticipation for the comments and shares to pour in.
Here’s the truth about marketing and content: Not every piece will be a win. But, more importantly, don’t measure your wins by shares and comments. If this is all you are paying attention to, it’s likely you haven’t created a marketing strategy with specific goals.
Not having a marketing strategy is kind of like going on a long road trip without a GPS or a road map. You will end up somewhere, but it won’t be where you intended to go.
Each piece of content should have a specific goal. Do you want to increase leads? Build thought leadership? Target a specific keyword and/or all of the above? If you don’t have a goal with a KPI attached to it, you won’t know how to measure the success of your content. Great content starts with a goal and KPIs, and then requires consistency and careful execution.
Don’t be alarmed if your content takes a little time to gain traction. Similar to any new venture, it takes some time to learn your industry, what works and what doesn’t. As long as you have a sound marketing strategy with goals, KPIs, and metrics, your content will reach a tipping point where it will start to work for you without much effort. Stay consistent and make sure your content is tied to a marketing strategy or you will be wasting your time.
We talk specifically about the importance of having an effective content marketing strategy here.
4) The More Content You Produce, the Better
Your small business is rushing to publish more content than your competitors do. You need to outperform them, right?
Yes and no.
Poor quality content—regardless of how much of it you publish—is a waste of time. Prioritize quality over quantity—always.
Every piece of content you publish should…
- Be part of an overarching content marketing strategy
- Fulfill a particular goal you set for it in your marketing strategy
- Speak directly to your target market where they are in the customer journey
- Be engaging and provide the highest value
- Hit target market pain points, if appropriate
- Never leave your reader with unanswered questions
- Include targeted keywords and provide more value than the top-ranking posts for your keywords
Although there are many more criteria to hit when producing high-value content, the above are just a starting point.
The point is that creating high-value content is so much more than blindly slapping together four to five paragraphs on a topic you think your customers may want to know about. Creating content like this will set you up for failure, not to mention steal your time and resources away from more business-growing initiatives. If you can only produce one stellar piece of targeted content, it’s better than five subpar pieces.
That brings us to the next marketing lie you may have believed…
5) The More People You Target, the Better
We know it seems logical that the more people you target, the better your chances of growing your small business. More equals more, right? Not exactly. If you try to target everyone, you will actually be targeting no one.
If you were in the market for a water bottle that was good for the environment and portable enough for your daily gym trips…
Would you be more attracted to a website with generic messaging and images OR one that mentions a focus on the environment and includes images of fitness people using the water bottle?
Defining your target market and focusing on a specific niche will enable you to capture consumers’ attention and speak directly to them, increasing connections and sales. Your goal is to attract potential customers who will be enthusiastic about buying from you and become true fans—people who will become repeat buyers, spread the word about your product or services, and do your marketing for you.
Nike doesn’t advertise to everyone who wears sneakers. Take a look at Nike's website. This is the main messaging:
The brand targets athletes who identify with its values and care about winning, not every person who wears sneakers.
This brings us to our next point…
6) All You Need Is a Good Website
Although a good website is integral to success, it’s unfortunately just the starting point. Today’s consumers expect a company to have a digital presence and be found online. Now, this doesn’t mean you should create profiles on every social media site. Here are some online assets consumers might review (in addition to your website) before deciding to buy from you:
- Website reviews
- Google reviews
- Other third-party reviews
- Your blog
- Your emails
- Friend and family recommendations
Executing a well-rounded, goal-driven, targeted digital marketing strategy will sprinkle your brand messaging and impact all over the web so you are in the right place at the right time when your target customer is looking for you.
7) Marketing Is Too Expensive for Small Businesses
We hear this complaint a lot. We understand how difficult it can be to balance your budget and output to find the perfect ratio to jump-start your small business without losing all of your money.
We realize that investing in marketing can seem risky. But we know that failing to invest even a little in marketing is also risky and can lead to growth stagnation.
The truth about marketing is that if you want to make money, you have to spend something, whether it be your time or money. The good news is that the return on investment for marketing is real. For example, the average ROI for email marketing alone is 122%!
3 Marketing Options for Small Businesses
The people concerned about the high expense of marketing typically view it as an all-or-nothing scenario. You either hire a marketing department that an enterprise organization like Nike would hire, or you do it yourself. The good news is that within these two extremes exists a host of solutions that will fit your small business and not break the bank.
Spending tens of thousands or more a month on marketing may cripple your small business, and we don’t recommend this. But, doing everything yourself (even if you know a little about marketing) cripples your productivity to grow your business and will prolong growth. If you don’t have the background in all marketing disciplines, you will have to spend time learning each one, which could honestly take years to master.
Here are three marketing options for small businesses, along with some pros and cons:
- Time consuming
- May prolong and/or sacrifice growth if you are a novice
- Hire local or remote workers
- May be cost-effective if you can find the right ones
- You can work with experts
- Can hire à la carte based on the services you need
- Time-consuming process with a lot of trial and error
- Risky if you don’t have any marketing experience and you don’t know what you are looking for in an expert
- Can be pricey if you don’t assemble the right team
- Work with a marketing agency
- Can provide a full arsenal of marketing help
- Team members are all specialists in their respective fields
- Can provide more value than marketing and steer you in the right direction for current and future growth
- Can be costly if you choose the wrong ones
- Can set you back further if your agency is “practicing” on you instead of showing you real, tangible results
What You Need to Know about Marketing Lies… The Truth About Marketing
In this article, we discussed seven marketing lies that can prevent small businesses from growing. Here they are again:
- Marketing is not a priority for small businesses.
- SEO is shady and doesn’t work anymore.
- Everyone who reads your content will love it.
- The more content you produce, the better.
- The more people you target, the better.
- All you need is a good website.
- Marketing is too expensive for small businesses.
As a small business owner trying to balance budget, growth, and hiring, you don’t need to operate with false information. So, make sure to take note of these misconceptions and move past them. Ultimately, the truth about marketing is it’s a worthwhile investment that can take your business to the next level—as long as you approach it the right way!
Want to chat about your small business’s pain points and needs? Contact us here for a free consultation.