You don’t have to be a marketer for long to interact with the kind of business owners who just don’t get it. While most professionals today acknowledge marketing matters, few people know why. And when you find yourself needing to explain marketing to a CEO, this can be pretty discouraging. What can you do?
Below, take a look at 12 things most business owners will never understand about marketing. Armed with this knowledge, you can walk into meetings knowing what you’re up against, as well how to strategize about overcoming them.
This first one isn’t actually the business owner’s fault. When among other marketing professionals, you may find it easy to toss around terms like CTAs, A/B testing, inbound marketing, and so on. When you’re with business owners, however, keep in mind that this is not their language. Marketers do themselves no favor by assuming everyone understands their terminology. Accept that your CEO doesn’t operate in this world, and explain things in a way that makes sense.
2. The Need for Help
The same can-do attitude that defines many business owners is what cripples them in the world of marketing. Whether you’re talking about social media or email campaigns or some other marketing strategy, doing it poorly is often worse than not doing it at all. That’s why even small businesses benefit from hiring professionals to manage their marketing efforts—sadly, many companies take too long to realize this.
3. The Need for Expert Help
In the same way that many business owners think they can handle all their marketing on their own, so too many business owners assume all marketing is good marketing and hire poor-quality help. In reality, not all marketing is created equal, and when a business hires an agency (or an employee) that doesn’t know what it’s doing, results will suffer. That’s why researching marketing agencies and looking at examples of past work/results are so crucial.
4. Slower Results
When a business owner’s biggest motivator is increasing sales, the sometimes-slow results of marketing can seem like a waste of time. Getting active on social media or launching press releases or investing in a company website aren’t often the kind of activities that bring direct, immediate results like a sales call could. However, the results that come from marketing are potentially more significant over the long haul, especially since they reach such a large audience.
5. The Team Approach
Simply hiring a marketing team is not enough to change the face of a company—all departments have to be on board. If the marketing team launches a new campaign that the execs and employees undermine with their contrary views and perspectives, the best strategies will have a hard time getting off the ground.
6. Avoiding Too Much Self-Promotional Copy
Most entrepreneurs and CEOs assume that if you’re writing company content, it should be about your brand. But this is not actually the case. The reality is that your content should be relevant to your audience and targeted to their interests, as well as relating to (but not necessarily directly about) your brand. Your goal is to pique the interests of people in a way that leads them to you.
7. Lead Nurturing
The name of the game in content marketing is lead nurturing. Consistently creating quality content—even when it is not directly about your brand—makes you look like an authority and gives visitors a reason to come back to your site. Visitors who return to your site are visitors with whom you can cultivate relationships and convert later down the line.
8. How Content Marketing Boosts SEO
It may seem counterintuitive to build online content that is not directly about your company. Yet with content marketing, this type of content can be hugely beneficial at boosting search engine rankings. Higher search rankings mean more exposure, which usually means more Web traffic.
9. Early SEO Efforts
Many companies don’t bother with search engine optimization until long after their sites are established. They don’t understand that to be most effective, SEO strategies must be utilized from the beginning, gaining priceless authority over time.
10. Personal Social Media Activity
According to the 2012 Fortune 500 Social CEO Index, “Two thirds of CEOs on Facebook have less than 100 friends and over a quarter of CEOs on LinkedIn have 1 or 0 connections.” What this reveals is that, although the people at the top of businesses are influential, they usually don’t see the value in being active online. So it makes sense that when you come in, announcing a social media campaign for the brand, they’re hesitant. Be prepared for this resistance and don’t let it discourage you.
11. Sharing Quality Content
Some business owners are turned off by social media because they don’t know what to do with it. What they don’t understand is that social media channels provide platforms for sharing, responding, and engaging. Regularly sharing quality content sets you up as an authority.
12. How To Define Marketing ROI
If you asked most business owners what their return on investment is for social media activity, they’d scratch their heads. In fact, this is probably where the biggest misunderstandings about marketing lie. Company heads don’t know what the marketing campaign is accomplishing, or how they can find out—and when they don’t see the value of marketing, they’ll be hard-pressed to invest in it.
Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a Chicago Web design firm specializing in SEO, Web development, and other online marketing services. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves. Follow Straight North on Twitter and Facebook.