2020 accelerated digital transformation, and now marketers and sales leaders are looking for reliable advice on moving forward. The internet is full of so-called experts and spin doctors, and today's companies are bombarded with so much conflicting advice that they can hardly separate fact from fiction.
We polled the Red Javelin team and asked them about the misconceptions they have heard from prospects and clients over the past year and compiled the following list.
- We have no competition – Ugh! This comment is not uncommon in tech start-ups. Never say never, but just about everyone has competition; they just may not be solving the problem in the same way as you. From a marketing and sales perspective, you need to keep your eye on completion offering alternative solutions at all times to remain competitive.
- PR is dead/Advertising is dead – These debates have been going on for years. Is PR dead? No. Is advertising dead? No. Have they changed in the marketing mix? Absolutely. Both are critical to any brand-building program. In fact, in 2020, we saw a significant increase in PR activity while firms retrenched and pivoted. The firms that invested in thought leadership PR while sales were stalled are emerging in stronger positions than pre-Covid. Advertising dollars have shifted from primarily mass media and print media to social and digital media.
- Sales and marketing are separate – We still see firms where marketing and sales as separate entities, particularly in the manufacturing and industrial industries. But that is shifting with digital transformation. When companies align sales and marketing, revenue increases, and the sales cycle shortens. When sales and marketing work in silos, they waste valuable resources and can't track how marketing spend impacts the bottom line.
- We should be in the Wall Street Journal– Every tech founder's dream is to be featured in the big business press; however, the WSJ has thresholds for covering companies. They write about companies with more than $100M in revenue or have raised a considerable investment - $50M in a single round. There are exceptions. I sent a pitch several years ago to a reporter at the WSJ. I received a great response telling me that my pitch was one of the best this reporter had ever seen….but he still didn't want to talk to my start-up. The reporter used the pitch with the market stats as the basis of a story, and at the very end, he mentioned my client as a start-up in this particular market.
- Our website is good enough. We don't want to waste money on that. –With everything moving online, your website is your most valuable asset. In B2B sales, more than 70% of the buying cycle has taken place online before a prospect wants to engage with sales - and this number was pre-COVID. If your website isn't "sales-ready" and "sales optimized," then your prospects will move on to a competitor, and you may never know they even visited your site. Your website needs to transform from a standard digital brochure into a lead-generation machine by attracting the right visitors, generating better qualified leads, and growing your business one conversion at a time.
- I can hire an intern to do my social media – When we hear this, we say go ahead. Social media is not as easy as it looks, and it changes all the time. We know that without heavy oversight, the company will soon learn that social media is a powerful channel, and an inexperienced intern should not shape the external message, even on social media.
- Anyone in our company can write marketing content/we can just hire a copywriter – Maybe, but probably not. This is one of those cases where you get what you pay for. It takes market and technical knowledge, with an unbiased view, to create a clear, compelling, and differentiated message and create relevant, defensible, and sustainable stories.
- All we need is lead generation - When companies focus all their marketing resources on revenue generation, they miss the value that brand awareness and thought leadership brings to achieving long term company goals. This is why you need a marketing flywheel, to help you balance the short term tactics with the longer-term branding tactics. If you are not reaching more people than your prospects, your brand is not growing.
- Inbound marketing is overrated- Is it? Today, inbound marketing is table stakes. If your website and content are not bringing prospects to you, your sales team must work overtime to find new prospects. Without inbound marketing, your sales cycle is longer, and you need more sales resources.
- The PR Team and Lead Gen Team don't have to talk to each other – Integrated marketing and communications programs have proved over and over to be more effective than stand-alone tactical programs. You need to engage with prospects at every stage of the buying cycle. PR is hitting prospects at the top-of-funnel while most lead gen activities are nurturing TOF leads to MQLs.
- Who do you know at the NYT or Wall Street Journal? – Many executives believe that if you don't have direct relationships with top journalists, you can't secure earned media coverage. It doesn't matter if you know them or not. Most PR professionals will not compromise their relationships on behalf of clients that can't produce the goods. If a journalist is interested in a topic, they will include firms that meet their criteria and have something valuable to say. PR pros know how to approach journalists and consistently deliver the right content to earn journalist trust.
- The content design doesn't matter. We just need to get ideas to paper – Would you prefer to read a word-intensive white paper or a visually appealing ebook with lots of charts and images? Buyers want to consume information in a way that makes it easy to buy.
- We don't need a blog – Blogs remain the number one lead generation tool for B2B and also help you boost your SEO rankings. Blogging gives you a platform to expand upon your core messages and educate prospects, customers, investors, and partners at every stage of the buying cycle. In B2B sales, there are anywhere between 6-21 influencers in the buying cycle, each having their own motivations and buying agenda.
- We don't need a marketing platform. We have all the tools we need that do the same thing. – Why have fourteen disparate tools, each performing a single function, when you can have one or two? It costs more, and you need specific skill sets to use each tool. Having separate tools for each tactical function is like mini-departments, each working in a silo. There is no easy way to integrate the metrics into a cohesive program and measure an integrated program's success.
- Video is too time-consuming and expensive – This may have been a true statement several years ago, but social media like TikTok, Instagram Stories, and Facebook Stories help non-video professionals hone their skills. Instead, people would learn from a quick and helpful video rather than a slick, highly produced video.