Small and medium sized businesses that are turning to online marketing are having to sift through a lot of misleading information. Many of these myths are propagated by experts, borrowing from the echo-chamber wisdom of individual comfort zones.

Here are the top 8 myths that could cause your SME’s (Small and Medium Enterprise) marketing campaign to under-perform.

1)   Social media marketing IS online marketing.

Social media marketing is only one of the tactics in an integrated marketing strategy. It could take up to a year or more to gain any traction out of social media efforts.

A SME may not be able to sustain quality social media efforts over a year without any sales coming through the door. I could be a matter of no sales no job after a year!

Understanding what works for your customer on social is often part of the learning effort. Curating and creating content that provides value to your customer an important part of your social voice. Measuring your effectiveness takes patience.

2)   Content is king.

As implied above, content needs time to earn its throne. Even the best of content can just sit there, unacknowledged, lacking a mature distribution system that could include social media and more.

‘Going viral’ is as good a strategy as ‘winning the lottery’. Your analytics, over time, will indicate what kind of content performs better.

See how the previous myth and this one are connected? Here’s more of that.

3)   Paid online advertising is ineffective.

No it is not! Online advertising can help you maximize the exposure for your content and social marketing efforts and help accelerate the maturity of those efforts.

To those who think that everything they post on their Facebook page is seen by ALL those who ‘liked’ the page: Sorry folks, 2%-4%, depending on content upto 15% is the percentage who actually see those posts unless you pay Facebook to distribute it to a wider audience.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Paying for your content to be seen can be really effective even on platforms like Linkedin, like I discussed recently on the #Iinkedinchat hosted by Linkedin expert Viveka.

Content that provides the most value in terms of your customer’s ‘purchase’ decision-making process are the best candidates to roll into your advertising campaign.

Banner ads, Adwords etc., coupled with potent optimization like remarketing are all valid integrated digital marketing tactics until such time when you can taper out most of your ad spend.

4)   Online marketing is about engagement

The super-blogger Mark Schaefer, whose blog is a comment magnet, explains why social engagement is not a marketing strategy.

Unless brand buzz is a defined goal, I’ll take less engagement as long as my efforts at social, ads, email marketing etc. can be measured as leading to goals like sales revenue.

In any case, Mark makes his case pretty well and I needn’t say more.

5) SEO is dead or evil or both.

While search engine optimization has undergone a sea change in the past few years, your online marketing team needs to have a good understanding of what it means.

This, if only to understand how to leverage web and link building across partner channels, the negatives of buying links and avoiding ‘first page on Google guarantees’ – however tempting the offer.

Search engine optimization gives you a firm digital foothold when integrated with your social, content, advertising, and more.

6) Technical abilities are optional in marketing.

With the limited barriers to entry in claiming to be an online marketing expert of some kind, technical prowess is often overlooked as an important marketing requirement.

Scott Brinker explains, probably better than anyone, how marketing and technology are intertwined.

Marketing technologists are vital to most SME marketing campaigns. Such expertise understands technology beyond learning to integrate like buttons or installing WordPress plugins.

Marketing technologists can envision how marketing technology integration into product development can make that 8 month competitive lead to a 2 year competitive advantage.

For example, competent marketing technologists may seek to ensure that the competitive advantage offered by an engaged community can be further secured in that app-based walled-garden.

An integrated online marketing strategy uses technology, design, the written word, video, and audio to convey the brand narrative, leverage partner channels, retain customers and drive other defined business goals.

Indeed, marketers who have experience in all these areas can bring more value to the marketing efforts of SMEs making their forays into digital marketing.

However it is worrying that most SMEs, especially in Canada, are under-served in their marketing initiatives. We do have our outliers who are at the digital forefront but most SMEs in general are struggling to understand how to be effective in their online outreach.

This is a huge impediment to business efficiency and growth.


Are the SMEs in your region well equipped to meet the rapidly evolving digital marketing landscape?

What do you think are the online marketing myths that undermine the marketing efforts of SME’s?[/box]

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