Do you remember the story of Chicken Little? If one person tells you the sky is falling, you laugh at him. But if you're told the same story over and over, pretty soon you believe it. This also rings true with branding--just because everyone else is saying or doing something doesn't mean that it works.
Time and again I see entrepreneurs throw thousands of dollars away trying to grow their businesses with traditional branding techniques because everyone else is doing it. These branding myths can break a company before it even gets off the ground. Times have changed--technology has created new ways to build and brand your company; traditional techniques don't always work anymore. Being aware of the following five myths will help you avoid these mistakes and save countless hours of frustration.
Myth 1: Offering a consistent and great product will produce a successful business. Is the quality of your product or service important? Of course it is, but it has very little to do with how successful your new or established business will become. The truth is that some very profitable, successful brands offer a marginal product while some failing businesses offer amazing products. The success of your brand venture is dependent on much more than just the quality of your product. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that creating the perfect product or service will have the world beating a path to your door. Your superior product or service will make you proud, but it won't make you money by itself.
Solution: You can always launch a beta test for your product or service to start getting exposure. Post on social networking sites and ask readers for their opinions and feedback. A great way to start to build your e-mail list is to post on a social network and link back to your site with e-mail capture and a survey readers can download and participate in. Make the survey about them, not about you or your product or service.
Myth 2: The more you spend on advertising, the more profitable you will become. You'll hear this mantra from every advertising salesperson out there. Unfortunately, constant repetition gives this myth credibility. If you do anything in business just because it's what everyone else is doing, you're in big trouble. Many current brands spend huge amounts of money on their monthly advertising budget; most of this money is wasted on ineffective ads. There are much smarter ways to build a brand. Don't get me wrong; there is a place for advertising in branding--but it's brand maintenance, not brand building. Advertising lacks the credibility that building a brand requires.
Solution: The best way to build credibility is to utilize the media. Online, print and broadcast media outlets are looking for quality content and contributors daily. Offer valuable tips tied into current events for readers, viewers and listeners. You'll gain massive exposure and credibility if your campaign is planned and executed properly.
Myth 3: Word-of-mouth and referrals will make you a successful, profitable business. This myth is the major cause of failure for underfunded startup brands. I've heard many new business owners say that they don't spend a penny on advertising or any other branding method because they're waiting for "word-of-mouth" to kick in and build their brand. Years ago this was possible; in a small industry without a lot of brand competition or mass messaging, it didn't take long for word to spread. Those days are over, though. With a different customer attitude and the many options available to the consumer, waiting for word-of-mouth to build their brands leads many businesses to shuttered doors. It's a great way to increase business over time, but it isn't something to base your business plan and success on. It isn't proactive, and it simply doesn't work in today's competitive climate. It's wishful thinking, not a realistic business plan.
Solution: A great way to build a list and incorporate word-of-mouth into your marketing is to launch a blog. They're free to set up and, if used correctly, you'll not only engage your potential customer, but you'll also build loyalty and word-of-mouth. Blogs provide valuable content for your customer in your area of expertise. They're excellent education and relationship-building tools.
Myth 4: You need to possess a wide range of skills to become a successful entrepreneur and brand. I've met many personable, skilled, well-organized, business-minded individuals who failed to create a profitable brand. If you're great with people, a real motivator, good at accounting and a hard worker, sure, you'll have an advantage. But the truth is that even if you have none of those skills or attributes, you can still be an extremely successful entrepreneur. There's one brand-building skill that most businesses don't even consider. If you master this skill and make it your No. 1 priority, you can launch as many successful brands as you wish. Here it is: daily marketing. Notice I didn't just say marketing, I said daily marketing. I've never met a business owner who made this task his or her No. 1 priority and didn't succeed.
Solution: What are you doing every single day to market and grow your business? Commit to doing five new things each day to grow your business--make that call, post on a new site, launch a blog, release an article. Your business is likely to grow by leaps and bounds almost overnight.
Myth 5: The costs to brand your business (including advertising, PR, marketing and social media), are enormous. So many people believe this myth that it's practically written in stone. Yes, many new brands fail because they lack funding. But you don't need to spend a fortune to launch or grow a successful brand. I started my agency with no capital, using all of the tools available on social networks and through online and print media. You should focus on marketing to larger markets online and build your credibility through media features and placements.
Solution: You can reach hundreds, even thousands, of new contacts and potential customers or clients using online tools such as Twitter or LinkedIn. Another great way to get exposure for your business is to contact local media outlets and persuade them to run a feature on your business. Even if you're looking to expand worldwide--start close to home. This type of coverage shows larger-scale media outlets that you're newsworthy.