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Armed and Dangerous: 7 Common Marketing Myths

common marketing mythsReading marketing blogs can give you a pretty twisted idea of what marketing and business are like.

Even if you avoid the most blatantly hype-y make-money-quick sites, you still run into a fair number of myths. Some of them might be obvious to you. But few people recognize them all.

And when you’re distracted – even if just a little – by some myth, you forget to focus on what really makes the difference in your marketing: understanding why people should buy from you, and making sure your marketing conveys those reasons.

So, let’s take a look at seven myths that plague the marketing world. Some of these can take credit for the downfall of thousands of entrepreneurs in recent years. And some of these have riddled the world of business for decades.

When you’re aware of the myths, you can look at marketing advice much more objectively and discard the stuff that doesn’t really help you succeed.

Myth#1: “Anyone Can Make Money Online”

Many of these myths are technically truths. But there are so many caveats that calling them “truths” would take some creative use of the word.

“Anyone can make money online” is one of those myths. Sure, it’s technically possible for practically anyone to make money online. But not nearly everyone is cut out to do it.

A lot of people don’t have the dedication to do the work necessary to actually make money online.

I know that sounds harsh. But let’s put it another way: “Anyone can make money online” should be “Anyone who’s willing to do the work, can create/do something plenty of other people want to pay for, and is damn resilient can make money online.”

I’ll say it again: a lot of people don’t have the dedication to do the work necessary to actually make money online.

Sure, it’s completely possible to make plenty of money with relatively little effort. But that’s making some assumptions about the person who’s going after the online dream.

If your greatest talent is picking your nose while whistling your favorite TV show’s theme, you’ll struggle to build a business. But if you’ve spent countless hours studying something and you can help others with that knowledge, or if you sell something genuinely useful, you can very realistically turn it into reliable income.

Since you’re reading Mirasee, I’m quite sure you fall into the minority of people who can realistically build an online business in a reasonable time. But that doesn’t make the myth any less of a myth.

Myth #2: “If You Try Enough Tactics, Something Will Work”

Let’s say you could theoretically try 10,000 different marketing tactics. And let’s say it takes a year to try each one. Even if 50% of those tactics would be great (which is a *very* optimistic view), it could take you 5,000 years to get around to trying any of them.

In other words, if you just “try everything until something works,” there’s no telling how long it will take for you to see results.

Even more unfortunately, many people try several tactics at a time, so they don’t really learn any of them. They don’t see results, so they move on to other tactics – even though the problem wasn’t necessarily in the tactics, but rather in their knowledge of how those tactics work.

I’d never urge you to use more than a very select few marketing tactics at one time. Sure, if you have a marketing system that already works, and you have time and resources for building another marketing system, go nuts.

But until you really have the time/money/skill to build multiple marketing systems that work in parallel, don’t. Build a single, simple marketing system that works. Study it, improve it, and master it. The green grass will always look greener on the other side, so fight the temptation to switch tactics prematurely.

Myth#3: “[Blank] is The Best Marketing Tactic”

Practically every marketing professional has a favorite marketing tactic. And there’s nothing wrong with that (mine is guest blogging).

But when they suggest that their favorite tactic is “the best,” they’re either amateurs or liars. They’re amateurs if they believe what they’re saying and they’re liars if they know the reality.

There’s no “best” marketing tactic. Sure, there are truly great tactics for specific situations. But people love to generalize.

There’s no “best” marketing tactic for online businesses. Or online information businesses. Or online information businesses that sell horse training products for new horse trainers. You’d have to be much, much more specific than that to be able to determine what’s the best marketing tactic.

So, the next time someone tries to convince you of a marketing tactic’s benefits, consider how well it really fits into your business. They might present great case studies, but do any of those case studies feature a business exactly like yours?

Myth#4: “The Customer is Always Right”

Yeah, you’ve heard this one in many ways. But if you just take it as it is, it’s plain wrong.

Especially if you’re in a coaching/training business, you have to remember that your clients aren’t always right. Your job is actually to point out how they’re wrong, and then help them fix it.

For example, let’s say you’re an executive coach and your CEO client says, “We’re going to discontinue XYZ product.” You know it’s a huge mistake, and your job is to tell them that they’re about to make a big mistake. Sure, they might fire you if their ego is too big to handle the criticism.

But in most cases, pointing out your customers’ (or even prospects’) mistakes is a great reason for them to want more from you. That is, you’re the one who was able to point out how they’d get better results and/or avoid costly mistakes.

Pointing out that your customers are wrong makes them hooked to your advice.

That’s true in many other types of businesses, too. However, when it comes to personal taste, the customer is always right. So, if your customer definitely want a carpet, but they prefer a red carpet to a blue one, don’t try to sell them a blue carpet instead  – no matter how stupid you think the red one is.

Myth #5: “Your Customers Are On Social Media”

*Social media “experts:” We’ll meet in the comments section.*

Okay, for a lot of businesses this is true. But I still call it a myth.

“Your [potential] customers” usually means people who are currently interested to buy what you sell. Depending on what you sell, there’s a really good chance people aren’t interested to learn about it through social media. In other words, when they’re at Facebook or Twitter, they’re not potential customers at that time.

The “your customers are on social media” idea isn’t, strictly speaking, a myth. But it’s a misleading concept.

In most situations, social media marketing is a very ineffective tactic compared to other options.

Yes, I’ve seen plenty of case studies about the “incredible” and “fast” results social media can create. But I’ve seen no case studies that would point to consistent results for various kinds of businesses.

If you have the proof, let me know—I don’t mind.

But until I see a reliable study that proves otherwise, I consider social media a marketing tactic that can work for various kinds of businesses but lacks consistency.

Myth#6: “Content Is King”

Yes, content marketing can create good results. It’s actually one of the most consistently reliable marketing tactics.

But that’s not what “content is king” implies.

“Content is king” implies that content in itself would be enough.

Even great content isn’t nearly enough to create good results – or any results, for that matter.

Content, regardless of its quality, is only a piece of a marketing tactic. That’s something we, and especially many new bloggers, forget: just creating content for the sake of having it on your website or blog doesn’t help your marketing.

And that leads us to the last – and maybe the most prominent – marketing myth.

Myth#7: “Build It and They Will Come”

Start a website. Create great content. People come to read it. You make money.


Almost regardless of your topic, there are plenty of other sites with similar content. People don’t automatically find your content  – no matter how good it is.

You need to market your content.

But let’s say you do a good job marketing your content and plenty of people find it. There’s no guarantee they’ll ever come back, let alone subscribe to your email list for updates.

The only reason they’ll come back is if you stand out from your competition in some meaningful way. You need to give people good reasons to want more from you.

If you don’t know what are the best reasons for people to pay attention to your stuff (I call this your value proposition), you can’t persuade them. Just hoping people will like your content enough to want more is never enough – there’s too much great content around.

Armed and Dangerous

Now that you’re aware of the big myths in online marketing, you’re ready to wade through the advice out there and figure out what works best for you. Figure out the best reasons for people to pay attention to you and want your content (and products), and make those benefits immediately clear to your audience when they reach your site. And don’t get distracted by the myths (and the endless list of things you could try).

You can discover the best reasons for people to pay attention to your stuff with this quick 5-step exercise. It lets you evaluate your ideas with perhaps uncomfortable honesty, but it’s well worth it to know what makes you stand out from the competition.

If you have any questions about how to make people interested in what you do or about the myths, ask away in the comments 🙂

About Peter Sandeen

Peter Sandeen dreams of sailing with his wife and dogs on the Finnish coast-unless he's helping someone build a clear marketing message and strategy that creates sales consistently. Download the quick 5-step exercise that shows what ideas are most likely to make people want to buy your products and services.


  1. A. Lynn Jesus ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I really like #3. The ‘best’ moniker is from THEIR perspective. And the important factor on how good a tactic is is how does it match your business. Thanks for this post!

  2. Michael "Osito" Schulz says:

    I think Sandeen is really on to something, but you may need to reread his post. The caveats are important. Business marketing is indeed made up of listening to your “heart” (honed by experience), applied analysis, and responding to your audience. But, none of these can be accomplished according to the plain statement of simple “rules”, as he ably demonstrates. Try thinking of business marketing as something akin to surfing. You can “learn” the elements of technique, but without some experience, you WILL fail. You need the experience to learn how to employ your previous knowledge, but that still isn’t enough for success. In the end you need to develop a relationship both your equipment and your wave: each giving you subtle clues as to how you should adjust your technique to maximize your success. Sandeen may have hooked me with “7 Myths…”, but he delivered with the pivot on how to look at each myth. Thank you for another valuable post, Peter.

    1. Hey Michael,

      Thanks, glad to hear the headline grabbed you and the content delivered 🙂

      And even though I’ve never surfed (not something you could do in Finland), I get the analogy and think it applies.


  3. Hi Peter,

    1 and 4 are my favorites.

    For 1, anybody who: knows why they want to make money online, and their why is a sense of freedom, and that sense of being free dominates their emotions, pushing them through obstacles, and follows the proven fundamentals of creating helpful, insightful comments, and of making friends with industry leaders, and promotes the heck out of industry leaders…..yep, these folks can make money online.

    If you skip even one quality/attribute, you’re virtually guaranteed to struggle. Of course, anybody with an internet connection and a pure motive, to help others and themselves, can follow each simple step daily. Most just throw in the towel too soon because they’re heavily attached to money outcomes.

    As for #4, the customer is sometimes wrong, or put more accurately, the customer is a bad match. I’ve no problems smiling, wishing someone well, and moving on because the practice has helped me attract better matches, like, SO quickly.

    I recall one particularly bad match who was hyper critical of my work, and wanted her money back. I let her go, and one week later one of the internet’s prominent digital marketers and I formed a prospering partnership. He hired me, I wrote some of his eBook, and a handful of his posts/content, all across multiple networks.

    I fired a customer to make it all happen.

    LOVE this post Peter. BTW, if you dream of sailing, my blog may be up your alley 😉

    I’ll tweet in a bit.


    1. Hey Ryan,

      Good list of qualifications. And yeah, most people just throw the towel in too quickly.

      And yeah, happened to me too (not working with non-ideal clients). But I do understand the people who really, really need the immediate income; it’s hard to let the paycheck go with the belief that something better will appear.

      I took a look… I got too jealous of the scenery 😉 Although, this summer has been record warm in Finland.


  4. Cody says:

    I love the build it and they will come mentality people have. We as humans believe anything that we own or make is more valuable than what it really is. This is no doubt why the build it and they will come thought process occurs.

    Proper validations.

    Solid research.

    Then perhaps you’ll get a few people coming your way.

    1. Hey Cody,

      Indeed. Reminds me of how 97% of people estimate that they are better than average drivers 😉

      And even if your content is better *in some way* doesn’t mean people would necessarily care (or notice).


  5. Daryl says:

    You mean I won’t suddenly get a flood of adoring fans screaming my name and waiting in breathless anticipation just by posting on my blog?


    I think the quicker that people understand the need to spend MORE time marketing their content than creating it, and the better that they tailor their marketing methods to suit their particular needs, whether it through inbound marketing, making insightful comments or forum posts, or even querying, the quicker their business will grow.

    It’s all about figuring out what works best for your business, testing it to make sure it works, and then implementing it and measuring results.

  6. Marcy McKay says:

    I always smile when I see you’re Firepole’s guest blogger, Peter, because I just LOVE your work! I came away with there’s no “once size fits, especially with Social Media. I just saw a post on how EVVVVVERYONE in my field is using Google+, and I just deleted it on the spot. I’m guesting blogging + on Facebook and that alone has stretched me to capacity. I don’t want to add Google+ to my To Do list. Thanks!

    1. Hey Marcy,

      Thank you, that’s really nice to hear 🙂

      And great that you could just delete that additional distraction. If you don’t have time to do it well, it’s unlikely to do much for you. But most people would just force themselves to try and find the time for that “one more” marketing tactic.


  7. Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Terrific post, Peter!

    I’m always getting asked #3: “Tell me the one best, fastest, cheapest way for me to market my freelance writing business.”

    Writers are always disappointed when I say, “That depends.” On you. Your goals, target clients, budget, how much you like and are willing to do social media, cold calling, etc.” I can tell you a decent bit about what I’m seeing working out there amongst thousands of freelance writers… but then you’ll have to do some experimenting from there and see what works for YOU, and what you feel comfortable doing.

    For instance, I hear from many email marketing gurus that I should send a 17-email cycle to maximize selling a class or an ebook.

    But you know what? That makes me want to barf. I send 5-7, and I sell enough to make me happy. Everyone needs to learn from what’s out there, and then see what resonates and feels appropriate to them.

    The best kind of marketing is marketing you’re willing to DO. I find the biggest stumbling block is people don’t want to do any. And there’s no one magic answer in marketing.

    1. Hey Carol,

      That’s so true; the best kind of marketing is the kind you’re willing to do. Much like the best kind of exercise 🙂

      And yeah, people don’t like to hear there are no silver bullets. At “best,” they seem like kids that ran to the candy store only to find out it was closed 5 minutes earlier. The disappointment is almost comical at times.


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