With marketing constantly changing, and businesses buzzing about the latest fads and gimmicks, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. Time to cut through the confusion and bust these five marketing myths.

Myth 1: Marketing and advertising are the same thing

Although the two are related, marketing and advertising are actually very different. Marketing is the ongoing, end-to-end plan that spans the entire process your business should follow to provide products or services to consumers. This includes designing and pricing the product, deciding where it will be sold and how to persuade people to buy it.

Advertising, on the other hand, is one aspect of your marketing plan. It’s focused on creating and placing ads to spread the word about the amazing products or services you have to offer.

Here’s a tip: Advertising can be pricey and hard to measure, so start small at first to see if it works for your business, and gradually ramp up as your budget allows.

Myth 2: Everyone is your customer

As fantastic as your business is, your offerings simply won’t appeal to everyone. For example, people who are allergic to wool aren’t going to be interested in wool sweaters. And sending them a fancy mailer with a deep discount coupon won’t persuade them to buy. Save your precious time, resources and budget by focusing on your target audience — the people who need, want and are most likely to buy your products and services. Targeted marketing gives you a better return.

Here’s a tip: Spend a little time identifying your target audience before you begin marketing. Who are they? What are their typical demographics? What are their habits? What problem do they have that you can solve for them? Once you have an idea of who your target audience is, focus on them first.

Myth 3: If it works for another company, it will work for us

The perfect marketing campaign for one business may not work for another because every small business is different. For example, a coffee shop might use an Instagram campaign, but a business-to-business tech company may have better luck on LinkedIn. To get the most out of marketing, focus on reaching the right audience, in the right way.

Here’s a tip: Building a smart marketing strategy can help define the marketing plan that will work for your business. Start by answering these questions: What’s your mission as a business? What are your business goals? Why should a customer choose you over a competitor?

Myth 4: You don’t need a marketing plan

No matter how great your product or service is, it won’t sell itself. You’re going to need a solid marketing plan that outlines all the tools and tactics you’ll use to win and keep customers and achieve your sales goals. This action plan will include your budget, a calendar and other important information to help you map out your marketing efforts and stay one step ahead of challenges or opportunities.

While marketing may seem like a complex subject, you shouldn’t be deterred from reaching your marketing goals. Map out your journey, steer clear of shortcuts, stay the course, and you will achieve success.

Here’s a tip: Instead of reacting to dips in sales and changes in the market, be proactive and prepared. Stay on track with a thorough marketing plan that lets you set your budget and plot your marketing efforts on a calendar you use as a guide throughout the year.

Myth 5: You don’t have the know-how to market your business

Good news! You don’t need a college degree or an expensive consultant to market your business successfully. The key is creating a plan that’s true to you and your customers. Simply knowing the steps to take and taking them methodically, one at a time, helps you reach your goals.

Here’s a tip: Learn more about the key steps required for successful marketing by downloading our free Marketing Fundamentals eBook.

Not a marketer? Not a problem.

This downloadable guide covers marketing in 8 easy-to-understand sections — each filled with professional tips and advice you can put into practice right away.

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