When it comes to marketing, there is a sea of misinformation and noise to wade through.
Whether you wear many hats and lead your own marketing efforts or plan to hire help, here are five common myths and the corresponding truths that will help you make educated decisions and avoid wasting time and money.
Common marketing myths
Let’s jump right in and debunk the five most common marketing myths out there.
Myth #1: The brand I’m imagining in my head is sure to resonate with my audience
Truth: A solid brand strategy takes time and research and doesn’t always align with a founder’s initial instinct.
For many founders or small business owners, their first instinct is to imagine a brand they like based on a vibe they are personally drawn to. This approach is problematic because it doesn’t take into consideration their people or their competitors.
One of the best ways for a company to reach its goals is to create a brand that is centered around an intimate knowledge of their audience and their competition.
To do this, one must step outside of personal preferences, spend time getting to know their people, and research their competition.
If you’ve hired an agency to lead your branding efforts, get curious about how they approach audience and market research, then ask them to share their findings. Here are some questions worth asking:
What are their interests?
How do they spend their time?
What other brands are they loyal to?
What are their core values and motivations?
What do they expect from companies?
What is the competition doing?
What are some overused brand elements within your industry?
Research will help you get a sense of where and how to best situate your brand in the market so that it will resonate with your audience.
It’s also important that your brand is unique, yet approachable. For example, a brand that appears too similar to the competition, or generic, may not feel interesting or worth consideration. A brand that is vastly different from the segment may feel out of place or mismatched.
If you build a brand that demonstrates knowledge and understanding of what matters to your audience, you are far better positioned to meet your company’s goals. Time spent getting to know your audience early on is a valuable foundation for all your marketing efforts.
Myth #2: If I have a logo, I have a brand
Truth: A logo is one element of a brand.
Strong brands tell meaningful stories, consider their target audience in depth, and evoke an emotional reaction or curiosity; a logo alone cannot achieve these responses.
“Brand is much more than a name or a logo. Brand is everything, and everything is brand.” - Dan Pallotta
A solid brand is consistently portrayed in everything a company touches, including its purpose, interactions, and content.
Myth #3: I have engaging imagery and don’t need to dedicate time to the copy on my website
Truth: Quality web copy is crucial for many reasons, including search engine optimization (SEO), visitor engagement, and driving conversions.
All too often, the copy is an afterthought, but I can’t emphasize enough how foundational it is. Copy is the vehicle through which you tell your brand story, it sets the tone for your relationship with your audience, it demonstrates credibility, and it is one of the primary ways your audience will find you and engage with your company.
The key to good copy is quality and accessibility. Consider the following:
Is your content useful, relevant, and compelling for your particular audience?
Is your tone on-brand, targeted, and mindful of your audience?
Myth #4: The website I can build myself is just as effective as one built by a professional
Truth: Options like Wix and Squarespace make it easier than ever for anyone to build a website, but without expert knowledge, many of the components of a successful website quickly get overlooked.
Visitors may be initially wowed by an impressive looking site, but the viability of a website hinges on everything a user doesn’t see or notice right away. This includes all the details that comprise the user experience as well as everything underneath the hood that enables them to land on your site in the first place.
Here’s what you’re likely to miss out on if you build your own site:
The ability to optimize the user experience and connect with your visitors
Engagement, conversions, and income
Unique design that doesn’t look like it’s built on a template
Adequate and/or quality content
Content crafted in a tone that resonates with your audience
Catching all the things that search engines will ding you for such as duplicate content
Proper mobile optimization
Marketing optimization best practices including alt tags, SEO, title tags, and meta descriptions
Proper security (depending on the platform)
Opportunities to consistently grow and expand your website with your company
Large chunks of time better spent on areas of your business that you’re an expert in
When it comes to marketing, you truly do get what you pay for, with the exception of companies and freelancers who overcharge. Saving money in the short-term is likely to cost your business in the long-term.
Invest in your business and prioritize budget for professional web services; your return on investment will far exceed the cost.
A word of caution: be careful to vet the company you decide to entrust your marketing to as not everyone who advertises as a professional truly has the expertise needed for a successful outcome.
Myth #5: Website visitors will stay on my site until they find what they are looking for
Truth: The window for capturing the attention of a visitor is short; optimizing for user experience is more important than ever.
Research shows that we only have a matter of seconds to capture someone's attention when they first arrive on a site. With a well-optimized site and user-centered design, the average user spends only two to three minutes before moving on; this time declines rapidly for poorly-optimized sites.
The content featured on your site – and the way it is featured – plays an important role in lowering the bounce rate and increasing time on site. It is not enough that you think your content is valuable — you must show visitors why and do it fast.
Don’t make people hunt for what they need
In academic writing, many of us learned to prove several points and then get to a conclusion. Instead, think about your copy and content in terms of an inverted pyramid.
What exactly does it mean to invert the pyramid? Feature key takeaways, big points, and summary statements as the most prominent copy on your page. Titles, bolded section headers, pull quotes, and callouts are some great ways to make it easy for readers to find what’s most important. Make copy skimmable, succinct, and easy to read. At most, a visitor will spend about 10 minutes on a site.
Use images, charts, infographics, and videos
This helps make your content more inviting and engaging for increased time on page.
Make your call to action super easy to find
This is one of the main goals of a site. The call to action may be to download an offer, schedule an initial consultation, or make a first contact. Always include a call to action, even if it’s as simple as pointing someone to a different page on your site.
Think of yourself as an adventure guide on your site
Make your copy, visuals, and navigation welcoming and engaging. Place a high priority on a user experience that is smooth and doesn’t spark frustration. Invite your visitors to want to stay and never assume they will stay in spite of a bad experience.
As you build your company and your brand, keep these marketing truths in mind and ask lots of questions. If something doesn’t seem right, take a little time to research it. You just may happen to find yourself debunking another marketing myth.
Britt is a content and strategy devotee dedicated to helping individuals and companies engage their audience in a meaningful way. She is the co-founder of Holistic Creative, a non-traditional Denver-based marketing agency. With a background in everything from tech to ice cream, she is well-versed in bringing a variety of brands to life.