In the past 20+ years, digital marketing has empowered multitudes of existing and start-up businesses to grow and build new routes to revenue. But for every digital entrepreneurial success story, there’s many you don’t hear about who’ve just wasted money, got it wrong or – what’s increasingly the case – don’t know how to compete in a highly cluttered and competitive market.
We’ve been helping and training businesses to market themselves in this space for just as long and we hoped it would be useful to point out many of the issues, mistakes or what have become ‘urban myths’ we’ve encountered talking to clients over the years as a way of helping empower you before you start (throwing money down the drain).
Digital marketing can certainly be powerful if it’s done right, but please try to avoid the following outdated ways of thinking about it.
1) Anyone can do it
Yes, anyone can do it in theory – ‘cause we’ve all set up a Facebook or Instagram page, maybe messed around on Pinterest even. But in the same way as anyone being able to design a logo, or sing a song, there’s a combination of talent and experience that creates an exactitude that’s hard to come by overnight.
Of course, everyone’s business is unique and nobody knows that business like you but while digital and particularly social are very personal media that allow you to express that, you wouldn’t necessarily step on stage without some tutoring, yet to expose your fledgling business in the most public of media without some guidance would be foolhardy, no?
What’s important to emphasise is that all digital platforms are businesses. And, hey, they operate like that. Who knew?
2) It’s free
See point 1. Yes, these are free media and you can set up a profile for your business, churn out some content and invite in your consumers (assuming they’ll come though we’re all a bit jaded now, right?!).
But what’s important to emphasise is that all digital platforms are businesses. And, hey, they operate like that. Who knew?
For example, Facebook is a media business and therefore really likes receiving revenue to help you reach your audience. Investigate its Power Editor, the stage you use to activate adverts, and you’ll realise how complex this world is; are you looking for followers? Reach? Views? Would you like engagement with your reach, sir? Yep, you can pay for every single aspect of that. Of course you can.
And while there’s any amount of online tutorials now available, ultimately, those tutorials are skewed from the perspective of the teacher – you need to know how to take that knowledge and apply it to your business. This can be challenging.
3) It’s easy to reach my target audience
Yes, the beauty of digital is that you’re able to locate your target demographic easier than ever before – for example, just by picking through #s. What fun!
Use any of the social listening tools like Radian 6 or Meltwater Buzz and you can suddenly understand your audience and its behaviour in granular detail – welcome to the age of ‘big data’! But hey, that does take time and money. See point 2.
4) You can compete with the big boys
You can f’sure, but not necessarily with the same type of products.
You need uniqueness of product and some creative marketing. Never before has a black face mask that pulls out all your blackheads hit the market so quickly and with such a far-reach. How that face mask worked was that it tapped into various internet-friendly tactics, an ‘ewww’ factor, a visual hook and simplicity of message – but of course, that wasn’t some kind of flook, it was canny marketing. Products are now increasingly entwined with the marketing medium they need to operate from.
And sadly, let’s not forget the big boys have the power of cold hard cash. They have marketing departments, access to market research, social media divisions, multiple routes to market etc, etc.
Ultimately, you still need to have a good product, but you need to be smarter to get it out there and understand the medium and which tactics to employ to reach your audience.
5) The same rules apply
Hey, we’ve all grown up bombarded by messages, swum deep down in the pool of media. We know how it works, right? We know that any story in the news has probably been engineered by a PR somewhere.
But what about digital media?
The only ‘old’ rules that still apply are ‘brand values’: can you express your offering in a pure way? Otherwise, expect people to answer back online, there’s no such thing as ‘one message’ any more, even your coffee business has to work like a media business in some way. And the competition is fierce because hey, anyone can set up a Facebook page.
Digital is a constantly evolving medium – it’s human after all – and what works one year is defunct the next. To step in is to keep learning.
6) You’ll go viral
Yes, of course you will. This is probably the biggest myth about digital marketing – and to be fair, not everyone’s asking for this in the same way as they did five years ago. We’ve all grown up a bit and know that unless you’re a cat falling off a skateboard, going viral isn’t a) necessarily going to happen, b) isn’t necessarily going to benefit your business either, unless you’re in the skateboard business and even then… it’s questionable.
Likewise, it’s unlikely you’re going to be the next Zoella, Deliciously Ella or the Body Coach – those peeps hit at a time when the channels were more open and they had time and energy on their hands and the benefit of being first to market with a easy-to-understand product and knowing how to operate in this space.
Obviously the point of this article isn’t about putting you off. We want you to succeed. We love helping people succeed in this space.
We believe in digital’s potential to transform and move things forward because we’ve got years of experience in it and have made all those mistakes so you don’t have to.
Please feel free to contact us and we’ll hold your hand through it all.