I’m in the middle of teaching my Digital Marketing class again at Wichita State and it got me thinking.
There are so many misconceptions about marketing. Especially for those of us doing our best to bootstrap and grow our business, it can be all too easy to piece together what we find online and try to figure it out on our own.
The reality? Strategies that worked for someone else might not work for you. That’s because your business is different and unique to you.
But another reason that rarely works?
To adopt a marketing strategy, you need to understand how it worked for them and how to tweak it to work for you.
All too often, business owners don’t understand marketing basics to allow them to tweak a strategy. And honestly, there are a lot of mistaken ideas about marketing.
These common misconceptions about digital marketing often hinder your success in growing your business online.
Here’s what you need to look out for and how to improve your own marketing.
Marketing is Speaking to Your Customer, In Their Language
Marketing is nothing more than speaking to your target audience, your ideal customer avatar, your dream customer, whatever you want to call it – in their language.
One thing that a lot of us forget when we’re deep into our businesses is not everyone has the same experience as us. Frankly, our customers have vastly different experiences than we do, and that’s one of the main reasons they’re coming to us in the first place.
Remember: They’re coming to you and your business because you offer a solution to their problems. You’re giving them a way to solve a pain point, move forward, and thrive in their lives – both personally and professionally.
If you can’t get on their level and help them understand why you offer a solution to their problem, they’re going to go find the next business that can help them.
And you could have exactly the solution they need. They just can’t tell because you’re not talking to them in a way that matters to them.
Your Customers Care about the Benefits to Them
When your customer comes to you to have a problem solved, they really don’t care how we do it, or even the steps we’re going to take to solve that problem.
Take my own business for example. I explain to my customers that I build WordPress websites that generate leads and conversions. I create a website that will be easy for them to keep updated without the help of a web developer every time they want to make a simple change.
I could tell my customers my entire process – that I work with them to create the site structure, create the SEO-friendly copy, and then design, develop, test, and launch. I could tell them that I create custom WordPress themes (that I’m coding from scratch), I try to keep plugins to under 20 in every website I build, and I largely recommend WP Engine as a hosting platform.
Tell me, which one of those lines do you think my customer is going to connect with most?
They care about what I do is going to help them. They don’t really care how I do it or even why I might do something one way or another.
It’s the same with your business. Ask yourself – or even the last three or five customers you worked with – why they chose to work with you. What problem did you solve for them?
Your Customer is the Hero, Not You
Another important thing to keep in mind with your marketing – your brand is not the hero of your brand story.
I know that sounds odd, doesn’t it? But it’s true!
The real hero of your brand story is your customer. Think of it a bit like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. They have to have the ability to take the path that works best for them, but they also need to see themselves in the story.
Let’s take an example of this from pop culture. Do you want to know why I think Twilight was so popular? It wasn’t because they were well-written or entirely original. It was because the main character (Bella) was such a bland non-character that everyone reading could see themselves in her. Millions of teenage girls were able to paint their own experiences over the novel and see themselves as the hero.
Your customer cares only about themselves. They need to see themselves in your brand story or you’re not going to connect with them. The easiest way to do that is to make them the hero and to put the focus on them.
How do you focus on the customer and not your brand?
You have to tell the story of how you’ve helped others succeed.
- Use customer testimonials and success stories
- Highlight a customer’s progress
- Talk about how you solve their problems
- Open your marketing messaging by letting them know you understand their pain points
- Display your empathy and that you can be their guide
You need to make it very clear that you put your customer first but you also have to show that you’ve helped others get there, too.
Marketing is Testing
Your mind is probably spinning just a bit, rethinking about how you can focus on your customer more and your brand a little less.
When you work through that change in communication, just remember something incredibly important –
Marketing is just testing.
That’s all marketing really is. It’s testing new ideas, and new messaging, and trying to connect and find your customers where they are. It’s testing out theories and finding out if you’re right or wrong.
Do you remember middle school Science when you started learning about the Scientific method? You created a hypothesis, and then you designed an experiment to see if that hypothesis was correct or incorrect. At the end of the experiment, you examined some kind of data to see if you were right or not.
That’s all marketing is. It’s deciding on a hypothesis – “I think my audience has these problems and would respond to this message” – and then you test it. For several months. Especially with online marketing, you need to give it some time to see if your message is connecting. Don’t just throw it out after a few days.
After you test, you take a look at the data (marketing analytics) and see if you were right or not. If you were and you’re seeing positive numbers, then you pour on the gas and go full steam ahead. If you weren’t, then you tweak and change and see what might work a bit better.
Most business owners get confused, annoyed, and outright angry with marketing because it takes longer to work. Because it involves this Scientific method of looking at the numbers and making tweaks.
But the reality is, if you want to market your business, you have to be patient. You have to be OK with the testing. You have to give things time to work or not work. And you have to be OK with the experimentation. If you’re not, then why are you even bothering?
Believe me – there’s no one-size-fits-all funnel strategy that works for every single business.
Stop Chasing Shiny Strategies
Which brings me to my next point.
Stop chasing the “next big thing” or the next “million dollar strategy” idea.
What most of these coaches and salespeople won’t tell you is that yes, they had success with that particular method, but that’s not necessarily going to work for another person’s business. Their business may have been around 10 years longer than yours and have 100,000 more people in their audience. Maybe they offer a completely different service or sell a product.
My Facebook feed has been bombarded with ads for the next big Marketing tools. Some claim it’s the metaverse, or it’s ChatGPT, others claim it’s going to be more TikTok-style videos, and I even saw one the other day for interactive videos.
You can buy all the shiny tools you want, but if you’re not focusing on the basics, they’re not going to work for long.
In fact, unless you’re focusing first on your customer, and second on being willing to test, you’re not going to get very far at all even though this bro-Marketer on Facebook told you he made a million dollars with this new automation tool.
Marketing is messaging, planning, and testing. It’s focusing on your customer and meeting them where they are.
Yes, sometimes that means trying a new platform or tweaking and adding in a different strategy because that’s how your customer is spending their time and like to learn. But if that’s not where they are and you don’t have your message clarified, you’re just wasting your time.
What Strategy Works Best For Your Business
If you’re sitting here wondering just how you can do all of this on your own, I get it.
Let me be real – sometimes it’s really hard to see your business the way a customer would and you need an outside viewpoint.
That’s one of the main reasons that I offer my Digital Strategy Intensive. This workshop allows you to stop focusing on the strategies that aren’t going to work for your business and help you decide what’s actually going to move the needle.
With a two-hour workshop, we’ll dive deep into your business and your overall goals. Then, I put together a roadmap you can follow to only use the strategies that are actually going to work for your business.
Book your Digital Strategy Intensive call and get your online marketing roadmap for the next 12 months.