Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Digital Marketing Myths: Don't Believe The Hype

I recently read an article about common digital marketing myths that are believed by scores of small business owners around the world. It highlighted five separate myths that can prevent or derail the success of a small business, or prevent it all together. I figured I would give a quick rundown of the myths that particularly resonated with me.

The first and probably most egregious myth is that digital marketing is only for big businesses. If nothing else, professor Kaplan's class has given me a whole new respect for the value of the long tail. You don't have to be a huge company spending millions of dollars on Super Bowl Ads to effectively market your business. You just need to be visible to the niche customers that are looking for you. A well developed website and a savvy SEO strategy can be the answer for a small business with an equally small budget.

Second, is the myth that email marketing is really just spam and that it doesn't work. After our last class, I think it is safe to say that the value of email marketing is unquestionable. It is inexpensive and has proven returns. Again, even if you have almost no money, you can use tools like Mailchimp, Benchmark, or Vertical Response to reach thousands of potential customers for free. As long as you offer value, your odds getting seeing a positive ROI are good.

Finally, (and I am lumping two myths together here) we have the myth that you need to be everywhere, and that success should come quickly. Both of these ideas couldn't be further from the truth. I experienced this first-hand while leading a social media focused talent acquisition strategy for a publicly traded company. One of my initial goals was to be everywhere the candidates could potentially be. We were on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Zip Recruiter, Monster, etc. However, I only fully invested my time in LinkedIn. We set up some automated job sharing campaigns, but they were never successful. It took a year to realize that the people we wanted to hire (and more importantly, who wanted to work for us) just weren't finding us through those channels. And it wasn't because of our messaging. It was because they simply weren't there. By doing fewer things better, we ended up being more successful. My advice to business owners is to spend some time thinking about where you customers are going to be. You probably won't be successful advertising to lumberjacks on Pinterest.

 At LinkedIn we work with companies on employer branding. The goal of most of these campaigns is to be seen as a great place to work in the eyes of potential employees. This in turn makes the job of corporate recruiters much easier. Setting up realistic expectations of success, as well as a timeline to realize that success is critical. Clients who expect to see instant changes are nearly always disappointed. It just doesn't work like that. That is why we typically advise our clients to allow for several months to a year before we expect to see long-term benefits of any campaign.

Take your time, do your research, and take advantage of the many low cost options that are out there. Finally, do as Flavor Flav would say and "Don't believe the hype". Small companies can be successful in the digital marketing world.

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