However important marketing seems to be, a large share of companies (especially start-ups and small or family-run companies) try to do without marketing. They normally have somebody responsible for the production/R&D, someone for the general management and back office, a specialist on accounting/finance and often a sales person. However, a marketing specialist is rarely on the team, and marketing tasks are split among other team members or crossed out altogether. Below are some misconceptions about marketing, regularly seen in practice, and unfortunately causing a lot of companies to struggle or even to exit the market.
1. Marketing is too expensive
Indeed, the expense-view of marketing seems to prevail. However, instead of looking at marketing as an expense, it must be seen as an investment (or cost of an asset). For example, investment into attracting leads and generating conversions (profit from a sales transaction), into CRM (customer lifetime value) or into building up a brand (company value expressed in intangibles).
2. Marketing only comes in when the product is there and needs to be sold
In fact, a large share of the work done on marketing must be completed BEFORE the product is even designed. This includes market research, market segmentation, finding out the needs of the target segment and working with R&D towards an optimal solution. Besides, strategic marketing is always on the lookout for opportunities in the segments not yet discovered and with business models not yet invented.
3. Sales is more important than marketing
The specifics of sales as a function consist mostly in direct selling, i.e. working with key accounts and large customers. In other words, closing every deal requires enormous time and effort, which should be justified by the size of the deal and the profit margin. If you want to target a number of smaller customers, or work with “pull” instead of “push” marketing (i.e. have customers actually ask for your product), a good marketing strategy is absolutely essential. Furthermore, marketing plays an important role in supporting and directing sales activities. For example, by generating leads in the sales funnel and by backing up sales efforts with a strong brand or positive company reputation.
4. A good product sells itself
Sadly enough, it doesn’t. We live in the times of a buyer’s market, where the competition in almost every segment is severe and the marketplace is extremely cluttered. Even if you have the best product in the world, without letting anyone know about it and explaining its advantages to the prospective customer, you are unlikely to sell any of it.
5. Marketing is something we can outsource to an agency
For a small company, outsourcing some marketing activities requiring specific knowledge (such as web design or SEO) can make sense. However, without a marketing specialist inside the company, who coordinates these activities and monitors them, the money spent on outsourcing activities is likely to be wasted. Besides, marketing strategy and tacit marketing knowledge often belong to the core competency of a company and are much too important to be shared with external providers.
6. Marketing is easy
This misconception actually results in the largest budgetary waste. Since many small company owners think “marketing equals advertising”, they are likely to splash out on one-time advertising activities (such as an advert in the national newspaper, an entry into the company listing, or a large batch of product flyers), without any particular strategy behind it or even an idea of a marketing campaign to bundle such activities. What normally happens, is that these measures bring no results, since they are spread across too many segments (often even leaving out the target segment), badly timed, confuse the end-customer with contradictory marketing messages, and are simply ineffective by nature.
Having looked at the six typical reasons for marketing disasters, the next step must be re-evaluating and re-thinking your company’s competitive strategy as well as considering taking up a marketing specialist on board if there is no one with this responsibility at present.