5 Marketing Myths

Myths and misconceptions are abound in the marketing blogosphere. Sometimes I can’t help but think that we have a pseudo religion about the way the industry is.

In actuality, a small group of blogging voices laud these best practices and ideas based on their experiences or beliefs, which for all intents and purposes are valid. From a research perspective this data represents a small sampling, in turn creating myths about marketing that don’t apply to the whole profession. Here are five common marketing myths I hear about frequently.

1) Analytics Make Your Marketing Program Succeed

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We are in the midst of a data revolution with marketers racing to extrapolate reports into meaningful outcomes. Marketers promise that the use of analytics will deliver the ROI they are looking for. Let’s not get too excited here. Analytics will inform marketing toward the best way to encourage desired customer behaviors. They will not make a brand better at marketing (myth revealed).

In the words of Kevin Spacey (hat tip to to Jay Acunzo and his excellent Content Marketing World speech), “It’s the creative, stupid.”

Creative alone is wild and unpredictable. Data alone informs direction, but can’t stop crap communicators from producing, well, more crap. Together, informed creative is flat out dangerous.

2) Visual Media Is a Snack

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Write a great blog post and publish it with no visual media assets at all. Publish a great photo (which takes as much time to shoot and produce, by the way), video or infographic without words. Post both on your social networks and see which does better for engagement, shares and inbound traffic.

Look, you need words with visual assets for keywords and search ranking, but don’t kid yourself. One medium is the meal today, the other is the side dish. Snackable media is not just a marketing myth, it is also a misnomer.

3) Blogs Are the First Tactic of the Content Marketing Future

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Blogs are not the first go tactic in the content marketing future. They are the past and the present, but in reality text based media is not well consumed on small devices. And smartphones and other portable media are becoming the primary Internet access device for most Americans.

I wonder what its going to be like reading this blog post on an Apple Watch. Maybe Siri will read it to me. Or she’ll serve me a “snack” instead.

A study Tenacity5 managed on behalf of Vocus last June with Market Connections revealed as much. Of all the distribution channels noted by marketing survey respondents, blogging was considered the least effective. Only 35 percent rated it as a 4 or 5 (highest). One-quarter of respondents didn’t even use a blog.

It’s almost 2015 folks, this isn’t about a new technology becoming widely adopted anymore. Brands would rather invest elsewhere.

To be clear, blogs in their conventional form have a role on the web site for customers and stakeholders interested in a brand’s topics. This is especially useful if the blog posts help resolve the same problems the brand is addressing with its other offerings (hat tip #2 to Jay Acunzo). Every blog post has an opportunity to delight, brand and empower people to opt into your total customer experience. But you better have a bigger strategy.

4) Video Is Easy and Cheap

No, video is not easy and cheap, and if you shoot it on your iPhone or camera you will produce low-quality crap. Easy video is a huge marketing myth.

If you want quality videos, you invariably have to invest in a pro cameraperson/producer or not more. There is a reason why 71 percent of CMO Council survey respondents are predicting video spending will increase by 5 percent or more.

5) CMOs Trust Influencers

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Well, this one kind of hurts. I thought my online profile was everything. That was until I read a recent SiriusDecisions report that showed CMOs trust marketing bloggers and influencers the least of all sources when it comes to making purchase decisions.

Then I kind of thought about most of my conversations about influencers with CMOs and I got it. They just want influencers to feel important so they will say good things about them. Duh. The marketing myth is that CMOs actually believe in what influencers are saying (unless it is conveniently favorable to them). Instead they think bloggers are trying to sell them consulting services or something.

Disappointing. Perhaps I’ll become a reality TV star instead ;) Or a photographer.

What do you think? Have any marketing myths to add to the list?

The Snackable Misnomer

Throughout the social media marketing web, photos and video and infographics are often discussed as “snackable” content. Calling rich media snackable is a big misnomer (Image by decipherment).

Bloggers began using the term in the late 2000s as a means to describe short content. However, since then the mobile web dominates online media consumption and the sheer volume of blogs and print content has increased. As a result, visual media has become more than a cute hors d’oeuvres to augment online media offerings. Instead, visual media have become the necessary hook to capture customer interest.

Calling rich media snackable is a failure to see the dynamic draw of visuals, and how they serve as an essential first step to engaging others in a possible customer journey. Rich media often serves as the first touch, the means to draw interest and start someone on their web journey. Using my former colleague Beth Kanter’s Ladder of Engagement metaphor, today’s rich media often serves as the first step on the ladder.

What was considered primary media is rapidly becoming boring and unreadable to more and more causal web users. Many consumers won’t dig deep without a clear interest.

Rich Content Creation Takes Time

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Creating rich media that is easier to consume is just as time intensive as text, if not more so. Setting up a professional video or photo shoot takes hours, not minutes. That doesn’t even include editing time. Yet bloggers who think they can run a corporate Instagram account with casual one-off “snacks” shot on their smartphone wouldn’t know that.

Graphic design is also time intensive.

Then consider the amount of time it takes to write and produce scripts, and short but powerful captions. These things need sharp catchy text and strong calls to action, if the ladder is to be climbed. I used to dismiss BuzzFeed until I dug a little deeper into its format. I realized how much effort goes into each article.

When rich content is created, you need a method to disseminate it. Whether through an organic community or a paid one through native advertising or earned media through pr mechanisms, you need a community to serve your time-intense rich media.

It’s In the Way That You Use It

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So you can see rich media is not really a snack, unless you deploy it strategically in that manner. More and more brands are meeting the mobile trend by using rich media as the first step on their ladder of engagement.

If you are operating from the standpoint that print is the center of your content offering, then it makes sense to treat rich media as snackable. But the sea change that is occurring in online media consumption may force a strategic shift.

More online content leaders and increasingly the agency community are coaching their colleagues to use visual media as a primary vehicle. In that vein, Tenacity5 is releasing a blog post, slideshare deck and eBook tomorrow filled with simple tips on how to use visual media on a variety of networks.

One of the reasons we engaged in the effort was the snackable issue. We see the concept of using rich media as window dressing or secondary content as a strategic error. And we are seeing the shift in the marketplace, too. Tenacity5 is only one year old, but three of our six clients are leading with visual media as primary assets. It’s time to educate the sector about this shift.

What do you think?