The belief that entrepreneurs can't market like the big guys is a marketing myth in itself. While you may not have the budget of IBM or Brooks Brothers, you can easily apply all the advice shared here to your own marketing strategies.
So get rid of the rules and conventional thinking and discover new ways to tell your story. Read on for some myth-busting advice that will help you grow your business and influence your industry.
Here are five myths about marketing that you should cast aside:
1. Social Media Is Easy
There's a lot more to social media than repurposing the same generic content on multiple sites.
George Faulkner, social marketing and communication lead at IBM, thinks social media is hard to do well. "It often feels like brands are frantically waving their arms for attention," he observes. "This is understandable, but they should also be introducing themselves, shaking hands, and engaging in meaningful interactions."
For example, IBM launched a 360 video series that features employees commuting to work from across the company's global community. In one of the first films, IBM developer Gabriel Rosa is followed on his skateboard as he crosses the Williamsburg Bridge from Brooklyn, New York, into Manhattan.
Too often brands are just creating noise. When Faulkner goes to a brand's page, he's looking to make a connection.
"If I show up and ask your brand a question--and I don't hear back from you pretty quickly--I am likely not coming back," he said.
2. Cause Marketing Isn't Effective
Patagonia recently announced it would give 100 percent of retail and online Black Friday sales directly to nonprofits working to protect the environment.
As a result, the company reached a record-breaking $10 million in sales, according to Scott Carrington, Patagonia's manager of digital and social media marketing. To put that in perspective, this was five times more than the company's previous Black Friday sales.
There was a lot of positive momentum and a top-down approach that enabled the internal creative team the freedom to move quickly and effectively without a lot of pushback. Carrington explained, "There was no time to water down the message or waffle on the approach--we just got it done, and the results have been amazing."
3. It's All About Your Company
Michael Fitzsimmons, WeWork's vice president of marketing, uses customer stories to make his brand come to life.
WeWork designs versatile open office spaces, with customization as a major selling point. The company's motto is "To create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living." Those words inform the company's marketing style.
Rather than tout its design skills, WeWork shines the spotlight on the pride its customers take in the end result. For example, the company has a dedicated magazine called Creator that highlights member success stories. This community-building approach helped WeWork build to 100 locations.
4. You Get to Decide What Your Brand Stands For
John Erickson, vice president of brand content, social media, and communications at Brooks Brothers, says, "You don't get to decide what your brand is anymore--the consumer decides for you."
The 198-year-old company has not rested on its laurels and is consistently pushing for new and innovative ways to connect with its customers. Recently, it created the Red Fleece Cafe in New York City, where customers can buy coffee, get a fitting, and experience the iconic brand in full effect.
"We have definitely found that people are looking for brand experiences, and that's what we gave them with the café," said Erickson. "And the idea was born from social media interactions and data. We are actively looking at what our fans are responding to, and that café lifestyle really resonated."
5. Brand Experiences Can't Last
"No matter what you are selling, you want to try to bring your product to life through a variety of sensory-based techniques," says Asiana Ponciano, social media marketing specialist at Hawaiian Airlines.
The airline aims to create a brand experience that delivers the sights, sounds, and tastes of Hawaii to passengers as soon as they board the plane. From the in-flight entertainment featuring a famous ukulele player to authentic meals made by local chefs served on the flights, the airline's experience makes it one of the top-ranked airlines in 2016 for service and staff, according to Skytrax World Airline Awards.
While the airline has a visually stunning product to work with, they are careful to keep the Hawaiian culture as pure as possible. For social media, they show beautiful scenic photos, food, and island guides.
"We purposefully connect to the destination by showing the faces of people of Hawaii and Hawaiian Airlines. We use the local way of speaking to keep the brand experience authentic and memorable," said Ponciano.