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Marketing Myths vs Facts

It’s sad to admit but advertising and marketing practitioners are among the least trusted professionals – keeping company with the likes of members of Congress, car salespeople and telemarketers.


But why? How did this epic fall from grace happen? Good questions. And while we’d like to give you answers, we simply can’t. There are dozens (maybe even hundreds) of reasons why advertising and marketing agencies caught this rap. Some may be valid. Most are not. We at Test Pilot Creative have identified 10 of the biggest myths we’d like to debunk.

Myth #1: Traditional marketing is dead.

This is perhaps our favorite myth. “Nobody watches television anymore.” “Print advertising? 1987 called and wants its 4-color glossy back.” Ok, we get it. Digital, social, and a host of other tech-based mediums have entered the marketplace and changed the landscape. But as we discussed earlier in Integrated vs Specialty: How to Choose the Right Advertising Agency, the right media channel is based on where your target audience is consuming information. Sure, digital solutions may be the best options to invest marketing dollars if you’re a company specializing in gaming equipment. But Baby Boomers still watch a ton of TV and, dare we say it, even read the newspaper. They’re not playing Overwatch or creating TikTok reels. And they spend more money than any generation – nearly $5.5 billion annually.

Myth #2: I don’t have the budget to advertise.

This is another fun myth. You do not have to shoot a $4 million commercial and pay exorbitant media fees to be seen. There are plenty of lower cost, and oftentimes more targeted methods of getting your message out there. Social media, targeted OTT (streaming) television ads, and blogging are just a couple ways you can build your brand’s awareness without breaking the budget.

Myth #3: I don’t need an advertising agency – I can do it myself.

Who needs an agency? You know how to type, and your niece took a Photoshop class in school. Yep, you’re ready to create ads. Marketing strategies and plans, target audience research, and competitive analysis is just a waste of time and money. If this is your thinking, good luck to you. Just because you know the words to a song does not mean the world should hear you singing it. You need to look at your advertising and marketing efforts as an investment into your business. Hiring the right agency, with the right expertise, will prove to be worth every penny.

Myth #4: People today are savvy and are not influenced by marketing.

What do you use to clean your ears? What do you use to blow your nose? If you said, or even thought, Q-tips or Kleenex, you were influenced by marketing. Advertising (well, good advertising) is targeted to a specific audience. Maybe it appeals to a human truth. Or helps solve a problem. Or simply makes them feel good about themselves. We have a saying at Test Pilot Creative: Affect the Heart to Move the Mind. When you make a connection with the target, you will be in their consideration set.

Myth #5: My product/service is so good it does not need marketing – it sells itself.

Sure, you may have a revolutionary product or stellar service. But if people don’t know about it, they will not consider you. But let’s say people do know about you. Are you top of mind? Do they think of you first? Look at companies like Apple, Nike, or Coca-Cola. Everyone knows them. Yet they invest millions in their marketing year after year. And for good reason.

Myth #6: We don’t need to advertise – we have enough business already.

If growth, expansion, or more profits are not important, mission accomplished. But what happens when there’s a dip in the market or your industry? What if your biggest clients suddenly cut budget? Or your primary customer base starts to shop at the competitor’s store down the street? You should always market your products and services – even when times are good. Markets can change in an instant. Be prepared for it.

Myth #7: Social media is a free way to market my business.

This one comes up a lot. While organic social media is free, it is limited to your network only. The only way your message goes beyond your network is by having someone share your post. Plus, unless you’re skilled at writing and design, you post most likely does not have much stopping power. However, paid social media, when done correctly, will reach a highly targeted audience that is completely independent of your network. While there are media fees, they are generally less than more traditional media forms like television or print.

Myth #8: If I target lots of different customers, I’ll get more sales.

Oftentimes called the “shotgun approach”, this method of thinking scatters various ads across a multitude of media, targeting several different audiences in the hope that casting a wide net will ensure nobody is left out. In the advertising arena, this approach is the best way to burn through your marketing budget and gain minimal results. The name of the game here is quality, not quantity. Target your key customer on the media channels they use most often with a consistent message that resonates with them. Sure, you may dip your toe in other channels from time to time to test their viability, but that should only be a marginal investment until you know it will deliver returns.

Myth #9: I should see instant results from my marketing efforts.

Coupons get instant results. All other marketing efforts take time. Remember, you’re building a brand. You’re forming long-term relationships with customers and consumers. Sure, a sale or coupon may get someone in the door, but a solid brand that resonates with them will keep them coming back again and again – and oftentimes, they’ll bring a friend.

Myth #10: Marketing is full of lies, relies on subliminal messages and is very misleading.

News Flash: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stopped all that a century ago. And they’ve been successful at shutting down companies who do not abide by their regulations. The FTC says, “Under the law, claims in advertisements must be truthful, cannot be deceptive or unfair, and must be evidence-based.” In some cases, there may be even more rules to follow. But understand, an advertisement’s job is to tout the product or service as the best. You may agree or disagree with their opinion, but opinions are not necessarily claims. After all, your business does it better than the competition, right?

Every day, you are bombarded with over 5,000 marketing messages so it’s easy to believe that a majority of advertising is not trustworthy. We hope this sheds a little light and gives you a better understanding of what is reality and what is simply myth. Of course, if you’d like to discuss this in more detail, reach out to us and we’ll gladly dive deeper into the conversation with you.

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