Last week I wrote in detail about two ways misinformation can profoundly affect your online marketing.
There are others that are useful to know about. Let’s explore more of these.
Completely aside from deliberate smear campaigns, many industries – or segments of industries have reputations. Not all of them are flattering.
There are things “everybody knows” that may or may not be true in general. And may or may not be true about your business.
When such ideas are widespread, prospective customers look at your marketing through the (possibly distorting) lens of that reputation.
Of course, this can be a help or a hindrance. If people are inclined to believe a company such as yours is likely to be trustworthy, to do excellent work, or be relatively inexpensive or provide good value – lucky you.
More to the point, if you are aware of this, you can make use of this by referring to these attitudes in your marketing materials, and also by making sure that your prospective customers know that you are in that highly approved category. This applies sometimes to specific ethnic groups in certain industries and people have been known to pretend to be a member of such an ethnicity to take advantage of that.
The reverse scenario is a less pleasant one. Everyone knows (or so it seems) that all used car salesmen are crooks. If you are selling used cars, what do you do about that? The first thing is to be aware of it. Don’t ignore it. You don’t necessarily address it head-on, “I am not a crook” (The late President Richard Nixon tried that approach. Didn’t work.)
You address it indirectly by PROVING you aren’t a crook (or whatever), such as with testimonials, endorsements, membership in well-regarded organizations, guarantees, etc.
THE FLIP SIDE OF THE COIN
There’s a flip side to this. You may have misinformation about your potential customers. That can be a significant barrier to sales.
The most potent version of this is a misunderstanding of your prospects’ ideas about the kind of products or services you sell. If you think all your prospects know that what you are selling is vital and necessary, then your marketing and sales efforts are devoted to why they should buy from you, or what is better about your widget compared to anyone else’s.
What if they think your product or service is an unnecessary luxury? You are going to completely miss the mark. You should be focused on educating the prospects as to why they actually need what you got.
That’s pretty dramatic. It can show up in a much more subtle fashion. It makes for a very different sales pitch if you know women like SUVs because the visibility is better, not because it can hold three kids, a dog, and all the soccer equipment. Otherwise, you are trying to sell on a point they don’t care about.
The answer to this whole area is to survey. Want to know what your potential buyers are really thinking? Ask them! As I’ve written in other articles, Google Ads is an incredibly powerful tool for doing exactly that – asking the potential consumer what is on their mind. Even better, it isn’t subject to the phony answers that are endemic to most types of surveying.
If you are doing focus groups, you are going to get misinformation, not eliminate it.
ATTITUDES TO MARKETING CHANNELS AND METHODS
You might avoid using a certain way of marketing because you’ve been told or believe that potential customers don’t watch those shows or read those magazines or visit those sites. Or that consumers heavily ignore advertising on those channels. Well, those facts might not be true at all – like the tale I told a few weeks ago of successfully selling medical services by door-to-door flyers.
Before you reject a marketing method or channel, make sure it isn’t just because of someone’s opinion not based on reality.
The flip side of this is when a marketing channel or method is in fact invalidated by people’s attitudes. Is there any legitimate company that uses robocalls as effective advertising? I don’t think so. Robocalls and what is known as “predictive dialing” software may make them awfully cheap. They are still only cost-effective when used to market scams because, of course, the delivery cost is zero.
People often operate on ideas about how to effectively market that just aren’t true. All the baloney about SEO I referred to in the first blog on this subject is just one piece of that. There are tons more about marketing in general and about specific marketing channels items and methods.
I’ll give you a few more examples.
People often want to put up billboards to market their services. They get the idea from all those (supposedly) successful attorneys with billboards plastered everywhere. But billboards are only useful as reminders. If you are running a major advertising campaign you can ADD a bunch of billboards to give that campaign a bit of an extra boost.
One or two billboards in the absence of other marketing will do nothing.
People often hire companies that specialize in their industry to do their marketing. The assumption is they must understand your industry and so know how to successfully market your business. And of course, that is what they claim in their own marketing.
Sometimes it is even true. But frequently the marketers are making their money by re-selling the same material over and over, with a great sales pitch not backed by the reality of results.
Maybe they once worked.
One of the several primary ways to misinform is by leaving out vital information, such as this was true 9 years ago but is no more.
As always, the lesson is “Let The Buyer Beware.” There is no substitute for doing your homework.