Ten Myths about Online Marketing for Small and Medium Business
After a year of doing Five Minute Fixes and answering quotes, two years of running a Facebook page and months of Q&A sessions, I have noticed a few myths, fairytales and misconceptions about various aspects of online marketing. The same ones keep coming up, like that one story your kid makes you read fifty times a day. So, I thought I’d ditch the happily ever after dream and sprinkle a little online marketing reality dust!
1. SEO is extremely difficult – a highly profitable myth
OK so I blame my competitors for this one. They have learned that by spreading this myth about, they can not only get more clients, but force those clients to pay extortionate fees! The truth of the matter is this….keyword research is a bit tricky; the rest of SEO is simple. SEO is basically made up of LOTS of simple tasks. You can do one or one hundred, every little bit helps. The more you do, the more you learn, the more you understand and really, it’s all pretty simple.
2. Facebook is a brilliant place to sell products – but there’s a troll under the bridge….
Nope. Facebook is brilliant place to meet customers, brand ambassadors and network partners and to increase your website’s performance through social shares. Selling to them on Facebook will at best, get you one or two sales, at worst, annoy all your potential customers. Besides the whole, “no hard sell on Facebook” rule, the other flaw in this myth is that you don’t want to convert sales on Facebook. Facebook’s algorithm is actively trying to eliminate salesy posts – so it’s not just your audience that will punish you!
Ideally, you want to convert on your website, that’s where the customers can buy more, spend securely and refer their friends…to buy, not chat. Moving off Facebook gives you a captive audience, away from their wall, where your competitor’s messages are constantly distracting them from the task of buying your stuff, signing up for your mail out and generally converting from player to payer.
3. Email Marketing is spam – OK, so this one is borderline true
This one is 99% true…but as an authentic, valuable brand, you’re the 1%! Email marketing, including newsletters has the prestigious position of being the single best converting form of advertising. In fact, the statistic goes that the average return on investment is $42 for every $1 spent – pretty sweet really! This stat is skewed a bit by the big brands offering freebees in their email marketing but, written well, your email marketing can work its e-butt off for you. Make it valuable, don’t sell too hard, don’t do it too often, offer something they want to read….. and you’re not a spammer; you’re a business with great CRM!
4. Website video is a must – a web marketing fairy tale
Hands up who immediately clicks away from a website with an auto play video…. Homepage video marketing reminds me of Flash…it’s pretty and fun and novel the first six times, after that it just gets in the way of how you enjoy a website. Like everything on your website, it if doesn’t add value, it subtracts value. If you MUST use video, be sure it’s offering something valuable. Use it when you have a target market that prefers visual communication, when video is the ONLY way to rank for your keywords, when you have a product that is easier to demonstrate than explain or when the value of your product is in its movement. Otherwise, ask yourself, does this really add any value?
5. True content marketing is 100% about branding, 0% about conversion – 100% fairy-bull-dust
Content for the sake of content….is the new art. And like most true artists, you’ll end up starving, with only your integrity to keep your warm. Your blog has a squillion fans that come by everyday and hang on every word you say – you are a total influencer….now monetise it. Selling ads on your blog that bring you 0.02c per visitor is not monetising, it’s devaluing. Spending 16 hours a day trying to sell advertising, with no time to create content, isn’t blogging, it’s account managing and using your blog to editorialise on other people’s products, might just make you look like a sell out. So, how do you monetise your own blog? That’s the squillion dollar question! If you are a blogger, and you want to be a professional blogger, you need to get something to sell. If you’re a business and you want to use your blog as a sales tool, you need to create high value content that demonstrates, subtly, and in an informative manner, why your products are the best for the job, and why your brand is worthy. You need to use that engagement to gently influence the decision making process, the trick is finding the balance.
6. $20 for a thousand backlinks….I can’t lose! In your fantasies buddy!
The cheaper the backlink, the spammier it’s likely to be. Just about all search engine algorithm updates these days are about identifying spammy characteristics and penalising them. You may not lose today but you leave yourself WIDE OPEN for major loss in the future. Backlink building reminds me of Aesop’s Hare and Tortoise fable – slow and steady wins the race! If you write a high quality guest blog today and submit it to a high quality site, you’ll get one quality backlink and get a tiny boost in search engine performance today (if you’ve done your research right). In one year, that backlink will not only still exist, but it will have gained page rank and aged authority, delivering a good SEO kick! If you buy 100 spammy backlinks today, you’ll get a small boost in search rankings today but in a year, they’ll be long gone (spammy links don’t stay in the search engine indexes for very long) and you’ll need to buy another 100 spammy backlinks. Even worse, they stay in the index and you get a penalty for buying spammy backlinks – it’s lose-lose. For small business, quality over quantity wins every time!
7. Prettiness over performance when you sell visual branding – fairy princesses can still kick ass!
It’s what we call the graphic design disease. Fill your website with fabulous designs that you’ve done. Create your own visual branding extravaganza and it will sell itself/ Make the whole site a cluster of jpegs and galleries and turn every page into a stylised portfolio….for nobody to see, ever. Sure, it’s great to have an online portfolio to send your prospects to, link to from Twitter, to make your competitors seethe with jealousy – but none of those will bring in strangers who need your service. The good news is pretty and performance can live side by side. In fact, if you’re a designer worth your salt, you’ll know that most clients need to find a way to make text and image work together. Showcasing that you can do that is showcasing your brand, just as much as pretty pictures. Making room for text on your website is essential, and the good news is, so many of your competitors are opting for the myth, that there’s a real opportunity for you to perform!
8. Far flung freelance writers and designers are so cheap, it’s worth the gamble! Never, never, neverland.
Regardless of the star rating, no matter how tempting the price, hiring a far flung freelancer is risky. Allowing a freelancer to log in, and muck around with your website is not only risky, it’s insane. A freelance web designer may not be protected by insurance. Freelance writers may call themselves copywriters, or even SEO copywriters, when in fact, they’re scrapers or spinners or other dodgy, penalty attracters. Unless you know all there is to know about the service you’re offering (so you can without a doubt), spot a dodgy job, hiring a freelancer is a massive risk. The further flung the freelancer, the harder it is to make them accountable for mistakes. The cheaper, the less likely they’ll be putting in the right effort needed to talk to your market!
9. Your competitors are evil online marketing genii.. Mwahahahahaha
In my experience, small business people know surprisingly little about online marketing. Despite being around for so long and creating such HUGE leads, small business has been slow to adopt clever online marketing strategies. Most questions I receive related to keywords, content optimisation, backlink building, community engagement and branding basics. These are mostly online marketing 101. If you, as a small business owner learn the basics, you’ll likely find yourself ahead of 90% of your competitors, certainly enough to reach the first three pages of search results. If you learn the basics + 1, you will be able to find yourself on page one for business building keywords without too much hassle. You don’t need to outrun a lion, you just need to outrun the person with you! This is especially true of WAHM enterprises. A definite pattern has emerged – WAHMs build a community on Facebook, sell a small quantity of products to other WAHMs and find it incredibly hard to grow from a WAHM micro-business to a viable ongoing income generator. You don’t need to be an online marketing genius, just stay ahead of the rest of them!
10. Small business can’t take on big business – it’s time Cinderella opened a can of whoopass!
OK, so every big business that exists had to start somewhere. The mistake a lot of small businesses make is to do online marketing like a big business. It’s a hangover from old school 80s style marketing where you projected success to become successful, whereas today’s marketing climate prefers authenticity and community over exclusivity. In a nuts and bolts sense, the approach of small business online marketing is very, very different to that of big business. From keyword choices, to community building strategies, to how viral messages are spread, there are big differences. The key is to always plan for growth – while you build at your current level, have one eye on the next level. Slowly but surely build your site up for more competitive, bigger keywords. Slowly but surely, build towards alliances with bigger businesses in your social media networking strategy. Keep one eye on your branding – while it might be all about small business today, make sure you’re showcasing your benefits to bigger businesses too. Keep an eye on trends in your industry, change where your industry changes, try to be ahead so you’re an innovator – that’s a great way to grow.
Got an online marketing myth you’d like explored or explained? Post it in the comments and we’ll do our best to investigate or answer!