10 Marketing Misconceptions That Keep You From Growing Your Promo Business
As the internet has reached a state of maturity, it is necessary for distributors to have an online presence to be in the game. In fact, it’s a provable fact that companies that invest in developing their brand’s online presence in a structured, consistent way, experience sustained growth.
However, smaller distributors have big misconceptions regarding digital marketing for their business, as shown in frequent discussions about online marketing on Facebook groups and other forums.
Since misconceptions do a disservice to everyone, I’m addressing the most common ones that seem to pop up time and again.
1. I don’t want my clients to go to my website, I want them to call me when they need something.
Your website is your place of business. You want your clients to come to your site any time they want, and find a friendly place where they can interact with your business and find what they’re looking for.
2. I don’t need a search engine on my site, my clients who like to search go to [insert big online seller here], and then send me the products they want. I don’t need a product search engine.
There is nothing good about your clients going regularly to search on your competitors' websites—or even worse, you sending them. Not only are you not providing them with a good experience, but you are sending them to be marketed to and see all kinds of offers you might not be able to match. Plus, you put yourself in a situation of having to spend hours searching for items you might not easily find.
It’s a matter of time before they’ll leave you for a provider that has a proper search engine, where they can interact with their company more effectively and easily click on a product they’re interested in to send a request. Instead of having to copy links, take screenshots and compose emails so you can do it your way.
3. I don’t need a search engine on my site, I just send my clients to my favorite suppliers' websites when they ask for something.
This is similar to No. 2, except the day things change in their business, they can send those suppliers sites to your competitor they just met and really like that’s trying to get their business.
4. I don’t want to show products on my website. That makes me look too commoditized.
If you sell products, you need to make this clear on your website. Otherwise, your visitors will be confused and not spend much time on your site if they’re looking for someone that can help them find and source the products.
If your business model is a consultative or agency model, where you provide more than just the products, it is important that you communicate that effectively, while you also make it clear that you are in the branded merchandise space.
5. Pay per click (PPC) is a waste of time because the big pocket sellers will outdo you.
Large online distributors spend tens and, sometimes, hundreds of thousands of dollars in PPC. That’s because it works when people are searching for promotional products they are ready to buy. With hundreds of thousands of monthly searches, there is plenty of room for smaller distributors to benefit from PPC, even with much smaller ad budgets.
5. People who like to do their own search are price shoppers.
Everyone who needs to buy something or needs a new provider turns to Google at some point or another. While some might be doing price comparisons to buy online, others will be comparing providers, looking for a company that understands their job so they can hand off the entire merchandise procurement project.
6. Email doesn’t work because people don’t read emails anymore. I delete all the promotional emails.
We tend to think that because we don’t like something, nobody does. Or that everyone behaves and thinks the way we do. But we are only a point of reference to a small segment.
The fact is, all kinds of research show that email works. If nothing else, every distributor should be sending at least a monthly email newsletter to their customers, so they don’t forget they exist at the time they need to order something.
7. SEO is not worth it because the big companies are already ranking on top. I have no chance to rank.
This is similar to No. 5. The fact is that online sellers typically rank at the top in geographic areas where there are no companies with well-optimized websites. Try it yourself, type, "promotional products (city)," and you’ll see local companies showing on the top results.
8. Online marketing is not worth it because Google is constantly changing.
There is a bit of an urban legend about the devastating effects Google changes can have on rankings. I think it started back when SEO companies were employing hardcore black-hat SEO techniques based on tricking the search engines. Then came Google Panda (or was it Pinguin?), which penalized websites that utilized these tactics, and these companies saw their clients’ sites take a plunge overnight. They had to justify the loss of rankings to their clients, plus all the extra charges to fix the sites. So what could be better than blaming it on Google?
Personally, I never engaged in these techniques because they make no marketing sense to me, but that’s another subject for another day.
While it is 100% true that algorithms are constantly changing, it is also true that a strong optimization foundation doesn’t go away, and it’s key to the success of an SEO program. The changes over the years have been to improve the quality of the search results to present the most relevant results possible to those who are looking.
So, the continuous SEO improvements provided by good digital agencies like Action revolves around quality and relevance of content, along with other key factors.
9. SEO companies are a rip-off. It's best to do it on your own.
It is fair to say that small businesses have good reason to distrust SEO providers. Unfortunately, there are far too many that don’t employ best practices, have no experience in B2B, have no experience at all, are learning on your dime, or provide one-size-fits-all services that by themselves don’t move the needle.
SEO requires specialized knowledge of your business, your industry, your ideal client’s needs and wants, and their buying process, in addition to the technical know-how.
10. My clients are not in social media.
Everyone in business is on social media these days. Just go and check if your clients are on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Chances are you’ll find both company pages and personal profiles in at least three of those networks. Case closed.
If you’re looking to stay in business for the next five to 10 years, or you are a new distributor wanting to develop a solid business, you must set a plan to build an online presence or you won’t exist as a business.
If you’re looking to hire a provider make sure they are experienced and know your business. If your budget is limited, start small with the foundational aspects and grow from there.
Whatever you do, DO NOT ignore it.
For more marketing ideas that work in this digital age, specific for the promo business, visit the Resources section of ActionMarketingCo.com.
This article was originally published on Action Marketing’s website.
Gloria Lafont is a mother, grandmother and business owner. Throughout her business career she has started, bought and sold a dozen businesses in the branding and marketing field, including a distributor company. She’s currently president of Action Marketing Co., founded in 2007. Her company focuses on helping distributors increase visibility, generate awareness and drive traffic so they can connect with more of their ideal clients and generate more leads and sales.
Gloria is a big fan and supporter of education and the cultural arts, volunteering her time and donating marketing support over the years to help various organizations grow in membership and revenue. She also enjoys the South Florida lifestyle mix of business, beaches and arts.