Dispelling the Most Common Marketing Urban Legends

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In the spirit of Halloween, it seems fitting that we put to rest the five most popular marketing urban legends. You know, those false stories from so-called experts that make the rounds in small business circles often enough that they somehow become interpreted as truth? Well, it’s time to slay these misleading dragons once and for all.

1. Social media is free advertising. When you view social media as a free billboard as opposed to an opportunity to engage customers, learn about industry trends and figure out what buyers want, you’ll just alienate your audience.

2. Buying lists is the fastest way to grow your email contacts. This can quickly turn your business into a ghost town. Abandon the notion that “they’ll unsubscribe if they’re not interested,” because emailing strangers can hurt your reputation. Instead, focus on engaging customers and earning the right to connect with them by providing valuable content.

3. Daily deals will kill your small business. To be successful with offers-based marketing, present deals only to customers you know, make sure they share it with a friend who can potentially become a new customer, and maintain complete control over the entire deal process.

4. Requiring registration to access content on your website is a great way to build your email list. This misguided belief is like the legend of the weary traveler who wakes up in a hotel room to discover his kidneys have been harvested. Instead of requiring vitals before handing over information, make it freely available. This allows you to demonstrate your knowledge and positions you as a helpful expert that customers will turn to when they’re ready to buy.

5. It doesn’t hurt to have a few friends write false, positive reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. Actually, it does because it degrades the integrity of the site and puts your business at risk. An alternative to having zombies infiltrate review sites is to provide great service and ask satisfied customers if they’d be willing to share their experiences online.

If you’ve been duped by any of these legends, you’re not alone. Yet now that you know the truth, you can avoid creating your own marketing apocalypse. 

Steve Robinson is Constant Contact’s educational marketing expert in the Midwestern United States (IL, IN, KY, OH, & MI). He has over 30 years experience supporting small business, with a background in small business marketing, management & development. He has helped thousands of small businesses, associations, and nonprofits develop and implement effective email marketing, social media, online survey and engagement marketing strategies. Steve has twice been named to Crain’s Chicago Business’ Who’s Who in Non-Profit Management and currently writes a guest blog for nbcchicago.com’s Inc.well Blog. Steve draws from this experience to be a valuable resource to Midwestern small businesses, nonprofits, and associations. Steve has educated more than 40,000 small businesses on behalf of Constant Contact since joining the team in 2007 and has presented at @Midwest, Techweek Chicago, & for the City of Chicago Treasurer’s Office Online Marketing Contest to name just a few.

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