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Hit Or Myth?

Learning to distinguish facts from fables for your marketing campaign.

There are many marketing myths that ought to be tucked away where you keep the collected works of the Brothers Grimm and Mother Goose. They may be fun to read, but they're disastrous to any marketing campaign. Here are 10 of them:

1. Myth: It's good to have a lot of white space in advertisements, brochures and other printed material.

Truth: Your prospects and customers care more about information than blank space. White space usually substitutes for powerful ideas, a list of benefits and a fertile imagination. Yes, white space is aesthetically pleasing, but profits are even more delightful.

2. Myth: Use short copy because people just won't read long copy.

Truth: People read long books, long articles and long letters. They'll read whatever interests them, and the more they're interested, the more they'll read.

3. Myth: It is costly to purchase television time.

Truth: This myth was once true, but cable television has obliterated it. Better still, cable lets you cherry-pick the communities where your commercials will run. You can advertise on CNN, MTV, ESPN, A&E--any satellite-delivered programming.

4. Myth: Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

Truth: Sell the solution, not the sizzle. The easiest way to sell anything is to position it as the solution to a problem. If you look for the sizzle and not the problem, you're looking in the wrong direction. Your prospects might appreciate the sizzle, but they'll write a check for the solution.

5. Myth: Truly great marketing works instantly.

Truth: Sales and limited-time offers work instantly. These will attract customers--but they won't be loyal. Great marketing means creating a desire for your product or service in qualified prospects' minds, then peppering your offers with sales and limited-time offers. The best marketing efforts take a long time to establish themselves. Just ask the Green Giant or that lonely Maytag repairman.

6. Myth: Marketing should entertain and amuse.

Truth: Show business should entertain and amuse, but marketing should sell your offering. Alas, the marketing community nurtures this myth by presenting awards based on glitz and glitter, humor and originality, special effects and killer jingles. Awards should be given for profit increases alone. The only thing that should glitter should be your bottom line.

7. Myth: Marketing should be changed regularly to keep it fresh.

Truth: The longer marketing promotes a product or service, the better. Guerrillas create plans that can guide their efforts for five or 10 years, even longer. How long have people been in good hands with Allstate? How long have Rice Krispies snapped, crackled and popped? Would these marketers be more successful if they kept changing the marketing? I think not.

8. Myth: Marketing is successful if it is memorable.

Truth: Marketing is successful if it moves your product or service at a profit.

9. Myth: Bad publicity is better than no publicity.

Truth: Bad publicity is bad for your business. No publicity is a lot healthier. People love to gossip, especially about businesses that have done something so awful, the media exposes it. Guerrillas avoid bad publicity because they know it spreads faster than wildfire.

10. Myth: All that counts is earning an honest profit.

Truth: Good taste and sensitivity also count. Marketing, as part of mass communications, is part of the evolutionary process. It educates, enlightens and influences human behavior. Therefore, it has an obligation to offend nobody, to present its material honestly and to benefit customers. If it does that and also earns profits, it is true guerrilla marketing.


Jay Conrad Levinson is author of the internationally acclaimed Guerrilla Marketing series of books and co-founder of Guerrilla Marketing International. For information on the Guerrilla Marketing Newsletter and other products and services, write to P.O. Box 1336, Mill Valley, CA 94942; call (800) 748-6444; or visit the Web site at http://www.gmarketing.com

Jay Conrad Levinson is the father of Guerrilla Marketing, the bestselling marketing series in history, selling more than 14 million copies worldwide. He is chairman of Guerrilla Marketing International. His latest books include Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days, 2nd. Edition with Al Lautenslager, Guerrilla Marketing on the Internet with Mitch Meyerson and Mary Eule Scarborough, and Startup Guide to Guerrilla Marketing with Jeannie Levinson.

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This article was originally published in the December 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hit Or Myth?.

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