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6 marketing misconceptions it's time to ditch


Another year has flown by and HeyYou! is now 2 years old! To celebrate reaching our ‘terrible twos’ milestone (they really weren’t terrible at all!), here’s some of the marketing misconceptions we’ve stumbled across in the last two years, and how you can smash through them to create effective, positive marketing that moves you towards your business goals.

1. Everyone is your target customer.

This one’s particularly a biggie with businesses new to marketing. If your response to ‘who’s your ideal customer?’ is ‘everyone’, then there’s more work to do around refining your offering and UVP before you dive further into marketing.

Why does it matter? Because successful products and services fulfil a specific need, which is felt by specific people. Trying to appeal to everyone often leads to bland marketing which is free of the personality that would attract your real target audience.


What should you do instead? Don’t be scared of getting more specific about who you want in your audience. Narrow targeting helps you build a relatable brand that will likely still attract some people outside of that smaller target audience too.

2. Fear-based marketing is necessary for sales.

There’s an enormous gulf between the essentials of understanding your target customers’ pain points and how you help to fix these; and trying to poke ALL. THE. BUTTONS. to manipulate people into buying from you.

Funnel pages regularly provide examples of these tactics. The spammier ones crank up the pressure on everything that’s wrong and aim to persuade readers that the low-value offer presented (heavily ‘discounted’, of course) is the only fix; while the following pages try to upsell an ‘only chance’ opportunity to buy an extra product that’s absolutely, definitely needed, which is five times the price of the original product the customer wanted to buy. Oh and for good measure, there’s a 15-minute timer ticking down the time left to decide.

Why does it matter? These tactics have been overused and there’s a growing number of potential customers who’ll see right through the manipulation. Besides, hasn’t the world got enough stress going on without us adding to it?

What should you do instead? Unless you’ve got a really specific and appropriate use-case for fear based marketing (anti-drink-driving ads are a solid example), steer clear of the fear and focus on providing value instead. There’s an ever-growing movement towards positive marketing, which delivers happier experiences with your brand and develops longer-term loyalty over short-term sales.

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3. Buyer personas are the only way to truly understand your audience.

Buyer personas are quickly growing into one of our biggest pet peeves. There are plenty of things you should know about your target customers, but wildly guessing what ‘Stay-at-home Sarah’s’ shoe size, favourite takeaway or go-to workout playlist is, isn’t on the list.

Why does it matter? Making up details about your target customer – which can often happen when there’s no data available – might make your buyer persona feel more ‘real’, but it can easily send you off on a wild goose chase: wasting resources trying to target marketing in a way that could be totally irrelevant to your real-life target customers.

What should you do instead? Use appropriate data where it’s available, and when you want details look for real-life information – voice of customer research is a great alternative to buyer personas and can yield some insightful gems. And always keep in mind that your real-life target audience is way more complex and nuanced than buyer personas would have you believe. Not everything you say will appeal to every one of your potential customers. And that’s okay.

4. Marketing is just about getting new customers.

It’s true that marketing plays a key role in businesses reaching new customers – that’s why marketing and sales roles are often so closely aligned. But if you were to see marketing as simply a means to generate new sales, you’d be missing a trick.


Why does it matter? Marketing goals and KPIs should be based around outcomes that are beneficial to your business. For most businesses, most of the time, reaching new customers will be up there as a goal – but it doesn’t mean that’s your only option when it comes to marketing. Alternative marketing goals include building brand awareness, retaining customers for longer or improving customer service outcomes.

What should you do instead? If getting new customers right now isn’t your biggest goal, don’t worry that you’re doing it wrong. Start from what your business needs in real-life and work from there to figure out how your marketing needs to be contributing to that – as well as which KPIs and metrics to track to measure success.

5. Social media’s the perfect task to palm off to the intern.

There can be a misconception that because we all use social media in our personal lives, using it for business is pretty much the same thing and it’s a simple job to hand over to interns or new members of the team.

Why does it matter? Social media presents huge opportunities for businesses when it’s done right, but it can also waste heaps of staff time and advertising budget when done wrong – not to mention the negative effect it could have on your business’s reputation.


What should you do instead? A solid strategy is the key to high-performing social media – make sure you’ve got one in place so that you know the type of content you should be posting and how it will benefit your business. Ensure there’s appropriate training and approval processes for newer team members working on social media; and put brand guidelines and plenty of example responses together to support staff answering queries, complaints or customer service requests on social media.

That said, encouraging the wider team to get involved in social media and content ideas is hugely beneficial and can significantly increase your audience. Your wider team will have different perspectives and feedback from the market; so it can be really useful to encourage – even incentivise – staff to get involved with posting, sharing or proposing ideas for content; as long as there are some guidelines on language, brand and subject matter in place.

6. The snazzy templates I just bought will get me loads of sales.

There’s so much amazing marketing education, advice and guidance available online. And as people have realised how many business owners need support to do their own marketing, there’s been a growing trend to sell templates to speed up social media content creation.

Why does it matter? Whether they’re pre-made Canva graphics or fill-in-the-blank posts, templates are designed to help you quickly churn out a tonne of content – but the result is often a mishmash of differently styled content that’s devoid of your brand messaging and which isn’t designed to move you towards your individual business goals.

What should you do instead? A key part of marketing is defining what your brand’s about, and then consistently showing this through your messaging and visual identity, wherever you show up online. Build a clear strategy – or get help doing this if you need it – with branding guidelines to help customers quickly recognise you, and a plan of what you need to be posting to move you towards your business goals.

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Hannah Wade

Founder of HeyYou! Digital. Avid drinker of tea.

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