Have you ever had that sinking feeling that you might have been sold a “bill of goods?” Once the smoke cleared, did you feel that you may have “bought the hype?” Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are not alone.
In their zeal to get your business, many companies oversell, offering you more than they can deliver, often selling you unnecessary and expensive “bells and whistles”. Many times, in spite of the many assurances, when all is said and done, your sales are right back to where they were before you spent all your hard-earned money.
The reasons are varied, but some of the companies doing the overselling are simply deceitful, while others are so new to the marketing game, that they themselves are in the dark. Rather than selling you what you actually need, they sell you what makes them the most money. Unfortunately, that often is more than you need, OR not what you really need at all.
4 Common Instances of Statements Based in Hype vs Reality
- HYPE (Marketing) – “We can turn your sales around in a month or less!”
REALITY – Nice objective, not impossible, but not very realistic. Most businesses are cyclical, and until you have completed a couple of cycles, it will be very difficult for you to measure the effectiveness of programs being offered to you. And guess what? In some cases the person offering you the services knows that. In reality, any increases in sales that you experience in the 1st few months of your new programs are quite likely 1) residual sales from your past programs or 2) you may be in the upswing of a business cycle. Effective marketing and its results take time and consistency.
- HYPE (Technology) – “Our advanced technology will solve your sales and distribution problems!”
REALITY – Sounds nice but not entirely true. Unless you are in the technology business, technology is only a tool. It’s a means to an end that should not be confused with the end itself. Like any other tool, it should be weighed along will all the other tools in your marketing and communications arsenal. To give it too much weight can be very costly, and often the results are only fleeting. Ultimately, it is your product and staff that will solve your company’s problems.
- HYPE (Website / Social Media) – “A new website design or social media setup with all the “bells and whistles”, will greatly and instantly increase your sales!”
REALITY – A new website and social media will help, but it’s not a panacea. Like technology, your website and social media are tools to ultimately generate sales, and should to be part of the total branding and marketing mix. Any sales increases from a new website or social media are usually subtle and occur over a period of time. The new website needs to be optimized, user-friendly, professional and the cost should be in line with the projected return. Make sure the website is updated regularly, and the home page graphics should be changed often. Make sure you set up a schedule to make regular social media, posts and use the 80/20 rule when it comes to posting, 80% information, 20% selling.
- HYPE (Do-It-Yourself) – “We have a program that will allow you to create your dream website or marketing strategy in just a few minutes!”
REALITY – This is a dream that commonly turns into a night mare. If it seems too good to be true, it is. An effective business website or marketing strategy cannot be designed by a novice in a few minutes. Yes, you can put something on the Internet in a few minutes, or you might spend much of your valuable time toying with the gimmick du jour, but unfortunately neither equates to a professional business website or a viable marketing strategy. Many of your visitors will know right away that you took an unnecessary shortcut with a vital aspect of your business. That slight will shed an unfavorable light on your business to some of your most important stakeholders.Besides the cookie-cutter appearance of the do-it-yourself website, there are some functions the do-it-yourself website simply cannot perform. Many WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) functions actually corrupt the code of many programming scripts if you don’t know to change from editor to non-editor (source code) in the editing panel. That simple truth is only the tip of the ice burg. Other challenges include the incorporating of e-commerce, embedding video and audio files, domain name management, and others.
If your objective is to get a website you can update yourself, consider having a CMS (content management system) website developed by a professional and turned over to your company for maintenance and updates. Make sure the website is designed on a platform that can be transferred from one server to the next, and on a platform where there is a common body of knowledge. Some common platforms include Joomla, Drupal, andWordPress. You might want to keep a professional web company on standby in case you need some “heavy lifting”, such as major redesigns and/or programming updates.
And when it comes to marketing, there are no short cuts. You simply have to put in the work. Yes some salespeople will attempt to confuse you with gimmicks, shiny objects, smoke-and-mirrors and lead you to believe that if you buy their 50-step plan (what business owner has that kind of time on his hand?) or all-day bootcamp that you can become a marketing genius overnight. If it were that easy, you might as well get the 3-for-1 and sign up for the law and medical bootcamp well. Bottomline, you have to do the work which, includes mastering the basics of marketing, advertising, sales customer service.
Can a new marketing approach or website help your business? The answer is “yes”. Will it dramatically improve your business overnight, the answer is “no”.
Truly effective marketing is process that happens over years. So before you invest heavily in a new company or process; talk to some of their clients; give proper weight to the tools and the possible outcomes, make sure you are not overly enamored by the means rather than the end; and finally, exercise fiscal prudence, but not at the expense of being penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Also, keep in mind that your brand is important. You should be prepared to invest in a brand that reflects your company’s image, and one that is commensurate with the type of money you are asking your clients to spend with you. If your brand screams “free website or free logo” then that’s the kind of clients you can expect to attract.