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12 Marketing Myths That Is Threatening Your Bottom-line

Vidya Priya Rao

Myth 1: My Brand Is Equal To My Logo And My Website. Branding And Marketing Is Expensive And Only For Big Brands.

Most start-ups and SMB businesses think this myth as carved in stone'. The fact is: NOT developing a brand is counterproductive and expensive.

Your business cards, logo, website, LinkedIn / Facebook pages, Tweets, etc. is not your brand. These are touch points that build a brand in the consumer's mind by defining the outcome they can expect from you. If you like to be perceived as a creative, emotive, passionate and inspirational company; then your communications should drive the message with the images, words, thoughts and feelings that come up in your client's mind when they think about your product or service.

Even with limited budgets, there are numerous brand touchpoints at your disposal. Things like a positive attitude, delivering the project on time, a phone call at regular intervals to catch-up and taking feedback, incorporating the feedback and communicating the same, will only cost your time.

Tip: Remember, Rome was not built in a day.' Similarly, it takes time to build a brand by how you make people feel. Investing in brand building; ensures consistent messaging both verbally and visually; and making promises with a real focus on enhancing the customer experience. You can articulate your brand attributes, and align what you stand want and what your client thinks of you. It begins by asking yourself, How do I make my clients feel good, thrilled?

Myth 2: My Buyer Knows What They Need and Want.
If this were true, we would not see innovative products, and solutions launched to address the unmet and unrealized needs of consumers.

The market research industry professionals use surveys, in-depth / focus groups interviews and other methods to measure the customers demand for products and services. The irony is When we need to sell something, we agree that consumers are aware of their wants and needs. Yet, in those same decisions, the solution to the customer's want or need is not apparent to them. Therefore, to sell something, you typically don't have demand unless something happens and the person needs to respond to a problem and do something.

Also, if it is a high-value product/ solution, multiple buyers are involved in the final decision. It takes them weeks or months to come to an agreement on the root cause of their need, and the desired outcome from the potential solutions.

Quite often, the problem is, customers often don't have enough experience with complex decisions, and they may be inadvertently over-simplifying or misinterpreting what is needed to solve their problem completely and efficiently.

Tip: The marketing and sales alignment with the buyers paint point helps them to aid in the problem discovery, understanding, and selection process.The first step is to understand the buyers pain point and help them relate to the benefits your product provides. The second step is to identify the target market (where are these target customers, what is their personal connection the problem, how many exist, what are their emotional drivers, why and how do they benefit, their fears, and anxieties about making the wrong decision,etc). This helps estimate the early adopters and how fast they will adapt. Moreover, the third step, you need to focus on messaging, segmentation, channels, promotion, sales conversation kits.

Myth 3: Providing Your Customers Many Options Will Increase Your Sales.
Most often when a consumer has too many options, they stall the purchase as they find it difficult to make a decision. Moreover, more options is a conversion killer, and it shrinks your sales.

Buying products and services is emotional, mentally and physically taxing. Your buyer needs to process quite a lot of the information, compare the twists introduced by your competitors, evaluate for the right fitment, and finally decide To Buy' or Not to Buy'. With an exhaustive list of choices, for your prospect, it means more work as they have to go through their decision-making process for all the different alternatives. And, this gives an excuse, to stall the decision- making. At times, they may choose none of the options and go for something else.

So How can you streamline your offerings'? By putting yourself in the shoes of your prospective buyers and getting a feel for their needs, wants, fears if they are to buy your product or service. You could create specific categories for the different focus groups.

For example, if you are a SaaS software solutions provider, you need a monthly fee from your buyers in exchange for using your software. You should use the Russian Doll concept for packaging your offerings and provide no more than 4 to 5 options. The classification could be based on light/ first-time, medium, heavy users. This way, you ensure each group feels they get what they need and are not paying for a service they do not want.

Tip: By streamlining your product and service mix, you stand to gain. This way, you limit your consumer's decision making to either Yes. I will buy. Alternatively, No. I will not buy. You carry a risk of losing them by including which one decisions in the mix.

Myth 4: Everyone Needs My Unique Product/Service, So I do not Need To Focus on Branding/Marketing.
That is what YOU think as a company. Often most buyers do not even know that they need it, and they are not willing to spend even if the are aware. Today's busy consumers are well educated, increasingly mobile and internet savvy and possess many alternatives to your product in the marketplace.

This myth is a death-trap if your company thinks you can succeed without investing in sales and marketing. You live in a utopia by thinking your service or product is extraordinary, and that it will attract hordes of paying customers. By dismissing branding, you ignore the fundamental marketing principle: people only buy from you when they know and trust you.

However, the reality is different. The repercussions are the high risk of low credibility, losing sales, and eventually, disappearance. Whether you are an established player or a start-up or, your first job as a marketer is to inform the relevant world about your existence and why they need you. To develop the business, you have to devote your efforts and time to acquiring customers and then retaining them and finally converting them into your brand ambassadors. Branding is all about the experience customer encounters along the purchase journey

Tip: Focus on solving unique needs of customers with your product or service in a niche segment instead of reaching out to broadly defined market. Handing out business cards, distributing flyers, launching your website is a simple ways to announce that you are Open.' However, Positioning' yourself in their mind as one they can trust requires much more efforts. This will generate more sales and provide you better ROI on your marketing expenses.

Myth 5: Buyers Always Buy Where They Get the Cheapest Price, So Lower The Price.
If this were true, luxury brands would not exist. Yes, there are buyers who buy where they get the cheapest price, or they can bargain. However, buyers are usually looking for getting value for their money.

You do not have the incentive to produce the product or deliver the service if the profit margin is zero or negative. By announcing a sale or slashing prices now and then, it can damage the perceived value of your brand, increase customers greed and impact your bottom-line.

Tip: Identify ways to treat price adjustments and discounts, so that the perceived worth of your product or service is not compromised. Once you have hooked them to the value you offer, you can gradually test by raising your price. You get to create brand equity as the customers are willing to pay just because it is your brand, and they perceive that it is worth the spend. For all you know, your sales and profit margins will go up.

Myth 6: Thinking That More Communication Is Better.
Thanks to blogs, social media, mobile marketing you can publish almost never-ending amounts of information. Creating quality content to communicate your ideas and benefits is a time-consuming process. If it is done well, your ability to collaborate soars. Done poorly, it backfires. Over communication often leads to annoyance as buyers have sort through the irrelevant/ repetitive information. Also, you may invade their privacy, and they may stop following you.

Tip: You need to balance and resist your urge to over-share, or you will risk alienating your customers. You are better off by communicating relevant content in moderation across the channels where you buyers can find you when in need.

Myth 7: Not Creating an Integrated Marketing Mix.
Quite often, I hear business owners say As, I am not on social media, so neither does my business.' But what-if' your target customer is out there. It is possible that your company is missing out on building potential relationship and sales.

Promotion is one of the 4 Ps in the marketing mix. As a marketer, you have to communicate with your target customers when, where and how they want to be reached.You can kill a marketing campaign, by sending inconsistent, messages to consumers or not being present in the relevant channel. This can lead to confusion and damage your brand recognition by projecting a different brand message and customer experience on different channels.

Your messaging across multiple channels should have a consistent look and feel.
Integrated Marketing Communications ensures all the promotional tools (mobile, digital and traditional), work in harmony to consistently help you speak with one voice all the time, across any relevant channel every time.

Tip: Your integrated marketing mix has to be a blend of branding and content creation for different channels, to create awareness, drive demand and generate additional revenue. To strengthen the integrated marketing mix, you need to go beyond communication tool and look at integration across the organization and its stakeholders.

Vertical Integration The marketing and communication goals should be in sync with the business objective, mission, and vision.
Horizontal Integration the decisions and actions of the different functions in your company for example, product, customer support, finance, distribution; impacts the customer experience. Your marketing team have to make them conscious of the impact of their actions and design the communications accordingly.
Data Integration Customer data in silos is of no use. This requires data integration between marketing automation, sales CRM, and customer support platforms, to collects and share appropriate data across different departments.
Internal Integration requires internal communication keeping all employees informed and motivated about social media guidelines, any recent developments from new ads to new customers and strategic partners, expansion in new geographies and so on.
External Integration requires external partners such as advertising, PR agencies, channel partners to work closely together to deliver a seamless solution a consistent and integrated message.

Myth 8: Marketing Creates Brands.
The popular belief is that by investing in advertising, discount promotions, you can by hook or by crook convince prospective customers to view your product or service in a particular way. The reality is they may be lured to make the first purchase, but if you don't live up to the promise the repeat purchase or positive word of mouth will never happen.

Tip: By doing it right the first time, you do not burn your money. So your brand isn't your logo or tagline and so forth. Your brand consists of the emotions and experiences that customers associate when they think about your product or service. Branding is the promise you make to the world; it is the thoughts, the feelings, the emotions that come in your customers mind when they think about you. A customer experiences your brand across numerous touchpoints and your story, messaging and your personality has to be consistent. Branding is the repeated and consistent' customer experience that create awareness of your benefits and lay the groundwork for a trusting relationship.

Myth 9: Throwing in Freebies and Other Value Added Features Will Win Over Your Prospects.
To stand out in the crowd, you may offer frequent freebies or discounts and highlight on addon value-added features without charging the prospect for the same. If you think that these extra capabilities you are providing will give you an edge vis--vis competition you are mistaken. The reality is it pushes your prospect toward your competitors.

Tip: By identifying the unconsidered need of your prospect base, creating the context and developing a solution and amplifying the benefit to your audience, will help you earn the brownie points. The will realize what they are missing and start believing that what you are offering is a signification value addition. Now they start perceiving this as a value-added opportunity of selecting you, instead of a wasted throw-in feature.

Myth 10: My Business Is Growing Through Referrals and Word-of-Mouth, There is NO Need for Branding or Marketing.
This myth is the cause for the low success rate of start-ups. In the past, a business could survive and maybe sustain based on word-of-mouth (as it did not take long to spread) and referral business. In the internet era technology disruptions are enabling new ways to build and brand yourself. It is offering more options to consumers to promote you, provided they have had a positive experience. A negative experience on the other can damage your reputation and there are situations where shops have Closed.

Tip: Be proactive and invest in technology and new techniques that will help you generate more business over time.

Myth 11: Economy is Bad, Sales are Low So Let Me Cut Down On Marketing.
It is a big myth to say that you do not need marketing when the times are tough. In fact, it is the time to get out there and give the message that your are here to stay. Ignoring this investment, might seem like a great strategy in the short term. However, this is the time the innovators and disruptors will come up new solutions and your prospects and customers are getting attracted by the new entrants, and you are no longer in their recall list.

Tip: Our consumers get exposed to thousand of brands on a daily basis and its important that we stay top of their mind. As a long-term strategy even when things are tough you need to spend on marketing. It is also a time to re-look your offerings and come up with some innovative solutions to address unconsidered needs of consumers.

Myth 12: Keep Altering Your Advertising or Your Sales Will Decline.
This may sound logical, but it is not true. If the advertising is working, never abandon it. There are many business that are using the same advertising for years and are growing.

The goal of most advertising or promotional campaigns is to attract new customers. Once they become a customer, they will not respond to that advertising again. However, you can use different (and cheaper) communication to generate additional sales from them.

However, there's still a vast population of prospects who are yet to respond to your regular advertising. It is entirely possible that they have not yet seen you_and those who have usually needed to see your advertisement multiple times before they will respond.

Don't abandon advertising that is working but keep trying to improve it. Your consumers are active across different channels, so your advertising mix needs to take that into account. By frequently experimenting and test its efficacy, you will know what's working for you. The truth is, if you never introduce variations in your advertising, your sales will eventually decline.

Tip: You can follow the Pareto Rule automatically keep your advertising up to date by allocating 80 % of your budget to proven promotions and 20 % to testing new things. When something new works better than your proven promotions, move it to the 80 % group and start testing something else in the 20 % category.

I hope by elucidating these branding and marketing myths I have allowed you to rethink some of the branding and marketing activities you have stopped doing in your business.

I love to hear your thoughts. Please share your comments below.

The article was first posted in Marketers Touch Point Blog

Image Credit: NanoStockk / Getty Images
Vidya Priya Rao Member
I have worn multiple hats in my career - sales, consultant, product mgmt, researcher, manager, trainer, marketer, analyst relations, customer relationship, presales & strategist. As a multi-linguist of IT driven business, I speak fluent geek, marketer, sales, consultant, trainer, and tough buyer. I have a unique ability to manage multi-disciplinary projects and navigate complex challenges. My focus has been on: - Globalization and localization balance: creating and executing GTM plan for Solutions across different channels - Sales support and sales enablement - Integrating buyer and seller's organization during merger and carve-out - Prepare business case and cost benefit analysis for projects - Observe market action, talking to other market participants and form a view on the likely future movements of a solution offering - Implementing Knowledge Management in varied organizations - Build, maintain and enhance relationships with customers, partners, colleagues and like minded professionals