12 Most Wacky Marketing Myths In the Online World
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking (and writing) lately about the strange myths social media practitioners have created about marketing. I’ve even started dividing marketing into two time periods, kind of like our BC and AD. There’s how marketing was discussed PSM (pre-Social Media) and then there’s how marketing is talked about, well, now.
It’s not that I think people in the online world have created these marketing myths on purpose. Rather, I think a lot of people got involved with social media, realized they needed to know some marketing, and so they sort of threw together some ideas, some of which make sense and some of which are kind of silly.
I thought I’d summarize the 12 most wacky myths I’ve come across in my two years in the online world. With that — here we go!
1. All agencies are evil
Now, I’m sure there are some evil agencies out there. It’s hard to find any single group of humans that doesn’t include at least a few bad apples. However, to say that all agencies are evil is kind of over-stating the point. Don’t you think?
2. Brands and logos are the same things
Logos can be a symbol for a brand, but to say that a logo IS a brand is quite the myth. Factually, branding is far more complex and, to be truthful, far more significant than a company logo in and of itself.
3. Email marketing is best measured in “opens”
Just like many people measure the success of a banner ad program with the number of impressions the ad receives, a lot of people seem to measure the success of an email marketing program based on how many opens it receives. Factually, opens are very similar to impressions. Opens just mean someone’s eyeballs may have rested for a moment upon your email. Especially with preview panes, there’s no actual guarantee that an open means someone is truly interested in your content.
4. Failure is sexy
This is probably the biggest hot button issue for me. Failure is highly romanticized in the online world as if there are never any consequences for such things. In the real world, however, especially during these rocky economic times, failure can mean a lost job, lost insurance, lost opportunity, and lost confidence. While failure can be a good learning experience under the right circumstances, it’s not always “sexy” for everybody.
5. Having a plan is lame
A lot of people in the online world decry the concept of planning. You just need to jump into things. Planning takes valuable time. You need to be fast and flexible. In fact, planning can be a failsafe against really serious problems. For example, if you have a plan you can have an idea of how to respond if someone starts sending negative comments to your Facebook page. You can make sure your message is consistent across all of your marketing platforms. You can measure and have an idea of how to report results. Does that sound lame? Well, not to me, anyway.
6. Integrated marketing means using Facebook AND Twitter
Integrated marketing is a phrase that has sort of seen its meaning thinned out over the last few years thanks to some misinformation in the online world. I highly recommend reading Marketing in the Round by Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston — they do a much better job of defining what integrated marketing really is, far better than I could.
7. Killing anything that is NOT social media is advisable
Many people in the online world preach strongly against using any “traditional” marketing tactics. All you really need, they seem to suggest, is a healthy dose of social media. There are a lot of ramifications to making this kind of decision. In particular, companies need to consider what kind of message they may be sending to the industry and their existing customers when they pull completely out of a marketing channel. Hint: People usually don’t associate this kind of move with good news.
8. People who like you will buy from you
The conversation about what I call this “myth” can become quite emotionally charged. There are a lot of people who insist that even if your contacts may not buy from you directly, they might know someone who knows someone who will buy from you. That may be true, but if the people you are getting to know online are peers from your own industry, chances are good that they’re going to claim the business of someone that would buy from either of you, right? Social media marketing is not about getting people to like you, at its core. It’s getting sales. Right?
9. ROI has something to do with your mother
Once upon a time, I wrote up a story for our company e-newsletter about how a big name in social media was saying that measuring the ROI of social media was like measuring the ROI of your mother. I showed this story to my boss, who is not as highly engaged in the online world as I am. His response: “What does this even mean?” There are some “squishy” parts to the online world, but if you’re online for business, you’d best find a way to track your time (aka your investment). Otherwise you’ll end up without money all of a sudden and you’ll not be quite sure why it happened.
10. Twitter can work for any business
I’ve come across a lot of articles that say that if your company isn’t yet using Twitter, you’re really behind the 8-ball. I almost view this as a kind of business bullying. If you have analyzed what your company needs and have determined that Twitter is not one of those things, you should not be made to feel bad about that. But the key thing is that you DO analyze what your company does and does not need.
11. Websites are a piece of cake
How many times have you seen someone say, “I’m going to work on building my website this weekend?” There seems to be this idea in the online world that putting together a website is super easy. Heck, even a cave man could do it. That’s true if you want a website that is unprofessional in appearance or in utility. What if you want something that really works? This is not a hit at people who try to make a professional website, but expectations should be adjusted for the real world.
12. X + your time = X
This may be the most damaging myth for businesses in the online world. There’s this idea that if you do something for your company, it’s free, but if you hire an outside source to work on something it’s not free. This myth impacts discussions of ROI, agencies, and many of the other myths I’ve mentioned here. If you are on your company’s payroll, your time is NOT free. You must track it and determine if your time is going to end up being more costly than an external source.
These are the myths that I find the most wacky/disturbing. What about you? Do you agree that these are myths or do you feel these statements are true? What myths have you encountered? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Featured image courtesy of peregrine blue licensed via Creative Commons.