Why Inbound Marketing Isn’t Necessarily What You Think
Marketing is a word that gets thrown around a lot but is defined only every once in a while. Unless you’ve taken a class or two about marketing or know someone who works in the marketing world, you may have a lot of questions about what marketers actually do. Do we design advertisements? Do we just sit around all day brainstorming? Do we get paid to play on Facebook?
Well, dear confused reader, get ready, because I’m about to debunk the 6 most common misconceptions about marketers and marketing. So set down your bias, because here we go:
1. We just make ads
When you think of marketing a product or service to people, what is the first image that pops into your mind? Chances are, you’ll think of some type of an advertisement – a billboard or maybe a television commercial. While you’re right, there are also countless other ways marketers share products with the public.
From email campaigns, to YouTube videos, to guest blogs on popular websites, marketing doesn’t begin and end with an advertisement. Marketing isn’t about slogans and pretty images – it’s about getting the right product in front of the right person in the right setting. Sometimes, a newspaper ad is the right setting, but sometimes it’s a Facebook post.
2. “Marketer” is just another term for “advertiser” or “public relations professional”
While marketing involves some of the same concepts as advertising and PR, it’s entirely a field of its own. In order to explain this, I’ll use a spectrum that I like to call the Continuum of Brand Recognition.
The line above shows the spectrum of how you can communicate a brand to an audience. You can be bold and broad, sending big messages to wide audiences, or your can be tailored and specific, sharing detailed information with a small audience. Whereas advertising focuses on sharing information with a large audience and PR focuses on sharing very specific information with a smaller group, marketing is right there in the middle.
Every once in a while we’ll send out a big advertisement or release a press release regarding a specific issue, but for the most part us marketers try to get the most relevant information to the most relevant group of people.
3. Our job is like an episode of Mad Men
Oh, how we wish it were! While some swanky marketing firms may operate like Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (minus all the blatant HR violations), most marketing offices are small, laid-back offices with a lot of computers, a lot of soft chairs, and a lot of casualwear.
4. Our work is based purely on speculation
Gone are the days of guessing and estimation. Thanks to the wonders of the Worldwide Web, marketing is all about metrics. Metrics is the magic word in the digital marketing world. It’s what we use to create campaigns, it’s how we determine our target market, it’s how we predict success – it’s the sun to our solar system.
Even before the advent and popularization of the Internet though, marketing was based heavily on metrics drawn from customer surveys and studies. That’s something I really love about marketing; we’re not simply shoving out pretty messages hoping to catch a customer or two – we’re looking to deliver the message to the person who needs to hear it. No efforts are wasted in marketing.
5. We all know how to do SEO, graphic design, web design, sales, and social media
I think this must be the biggest misconception that clients of marketing companies have. While a fair amount of inbound marketers have knowledge of and basic skills in the above categories, we work like any other industry does – we have departments. Unless they’re a marketing Superman, your contact at your marketing company likely isn’t going to be able to fix every single problem you have with your latest website redesign/new logo/Facebook post/print advertisement right away, if at all!
6. We’re manipulative liars who trick people into a buying a product or service
This is hands down the most common misconception I’ve come in contact with about marketing. When I tell friends or acquaintances that I work in marketing, I’ll often get a grimace or scoff in return. “How can you work in such a corrupt industry?” their faces ask me. The funny thing is, I used to think the same thing.
But marketing really isn’t a corrupt industry! Our job is to take a particular product or service, determine what demographic is most likely to be interested in purchasing it, and spread the word to them in the most effective way. We don’t want to manipulate anyone into buying something they don’t need, and we certainly don’t want to lie to potential customers about what they’re about to purchase. We’re like matchmakers – we just want to pair up the perfect product with their human match!
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