Marketing advice you should ignore
Every time I scroll through LinkedIn, I see an abundance of terrible marketing advice being dished out.
It’s not that people are necessarily giving out bad advice on purpose – just that they aren’t qualified to give marketing advice.
And by ‘qualified’, I’m not referring to professional awards and accreditations. I’m referring to marketing knowledge and experience.
Half the people giving marketing advice on LinkedIn are simply regurgitating the same advice they’ve seen other people giving, even though they have no evidence that it even works.
So before you rush off to follow some generic marketing advice you’ve seen online, do a bit of research into the person giving it – are they the right person to take advice from?
And is that advice actually worth listening to? Or are they leading you in the wrong direction?
Let’s take a look at some of the most common rubbish marketing tips I see being regurgitated over and over.
“Nobody likes being sold to”
This is the biggest and stupidest lie I see being shared on socials.
Think about it. We all like buying things. And if we like buying things, why wouldn’t we like people selling to us?
Have you ever seen something in a shop window, then gone in to buy it?
Or bought something that was on special offer?
Or had someone to your house to quote on some work?
Or been to a showroom?
Or clicked on an ad?
In other words, have you ever been sold to?
Of course you have.
And did you hate it?
Was the whole experience horrible?
If it was, I doubt you’d have made the purchase.
It’s a lie that people don’t like being sold to. They just don’t like being sold to in the wrong way.
They don’t like being interrupted by aggressive sales pitches from complete strangers.
They don’t like being pressured into making an on-the-spot decision before they are sure what they’re agreeing to is the right fit.
They don’t like to be tricked or scammed into handing over cash for something that’s shit.
And that’s not how sales should be done.
So don’t listen to people telling you not to promote your products or services. If people don’t know what you’re selling, they aren’t going to buy it.
Building a big following by “adding value” every day doesn’t mean clients will just start showing up at your door.
You still have to sell. You still have to let people know what you offer, show them why they need it, and convince them they can trust you to deliver.
“People buy from people”
Have you heard this one? People buy from people so you have to invest time into building and nurturing a relationship with someone before they buy.
It’s not completely without merit – there are some instances where people are more likely to buy if they know you, like you, and trust you.
But that’s not the full story.
The idea that you can’t sell to people without letting them get to know you first is rubbish. People buy from companies all the time without knowing the people who work there or run it.
I don’t have a relationship with my window cleaner – I spoke to him once when I saw him doing the neighbour’s windows. I asked him how much he charged and whether he could add me to his round. Now he texts me when he is coming and I transfer payment when he’s been.
And I’ve had clients who’ve bought from me after a five minute conversation or a couple of emails. They weren’t interested in getting to know me or hearing my business story – they had a need and I could fill it.
The truth is: People buy from people who are selling something they need or want.
And as long as they trust you to deliver, they don’t necessarily have to know you or like you.
You don’t have to spend hours giving bespoke advice for free, jumping on calls, or doing virtual coffees to build trust.
Focus your marketing on people who are likely to buy. Show that you can fill a need, solve a problem, or deliver an outcome.
“Keep going – it just takes time”
I recently saw someone post that they weren’t getting results on LinkedIn.
They were following all the usual advice:
“Show up daily”
“Don’t be salesy”
They were doing all that and they still weren’t getting results.
So what useful advice were they given to solve this problem?
“Don’t lose faith – trust in the process”
“All the hard work will pay off – you just need to give it time”
If you’ve been posting content on LinkedIn (or any platform) for a year, and spending hours engaging, connecting, and commenting, and you haven’t got a single client in return for your effort, do not “keep going”.
Change what you’re doing because it’s clearly not working.
Yes – sometimes marketing takes time to generate results.
But it shouldn’t take that long.
If you are putting hours of time and effort into any type of marketing and it isn’t getting results, please don’t just “keep going”.
Figure out why it’s not working.
Are you building the right audience?
Are you making it clear who you help and what problems you solve for them?
Do people know what you sell?
Do you attract a lot of interest, but struggle to convert browsers into buyers?
Is it your marketing that’s letting you down or your sales process?
It’s fine to invest in long-term strategies when you’re established and already have a consistent flow of clients. But when you’re starting out or you’re still not making enough to cover the bills, you need to focus on getting results quickly.
If you can’t afford to sit and wait for customers to come to you, you need to go out and find them. Be proactive – reach out to them.
I hate this advice.
You do not need to bare your soul on social media to get sales.
You do not have to share your past traumas.
Or talk about your health struggles.
Or tell the world every time you are having a shitty day.
You can do these things if you want to. You can share these things if they are relevant to your business story.
But you don’t have to.
And I’d argue that most people shouldn’t.
Sharing your struggles might get you a lot of engagement. It might get you a lot of messages of support. It might even inspire or help other people who have the same challenges as you.
But will it get you more business?
I doubt it.
If you share a post about how you are struggling to stay organised, keep missing deadlines, and need a break, will potential clients feel confident trusting you with their business?
If you tell people you’re desperate for work and are struggling to pay your bills, do you think you’ll attract people who might want to take advantage and haggle you down on price?
By all means share the stories of past struggles and challenges and tell people how you overcame them if you think others can benefit from the advice. But don’t feel obligated to share your deepest darkest secrets with complete strangers if you don’t want to.
It’s ok to keep some parts of your life private.
“X is the best type of marketing”
No it isn’t.
Whatever it is – video, blogging, social media, cold calling, direct mail, paid ads, SEO – I can guarantee it is not the “best” type of marketing.
It might be the most effective type of marketing for that particular business, but that doesn’t mean it will work for you or be the right fit for your ideal customer.
The best type of marketing is the marketing that gets YOU the right type of clients.
And that could be video, blogging, social media, cold calling, direct mail, paid ads, SEO.
It depends on what you sell and who you want to sell it to.
“X is dead”
“Blogging is dead”
“Cold calling is dead”
“Email marketing is dead”
What a load of tosh.
All these things still work.
Granted, they don’t work for everybody, but they still work.
That’s the thing with marketing – everything works for someone but nothing works for everyone.
You need to figure out what does and doesn’t work for your business.
“Nobody reads long content”
Yes they do. You’re reading this.
And you might not be reading every sentence or even every section, but you’re still reading it.
People read books if they are interested in the subject, so why wouldn’t they read a 6000 word article, or a 3000 word article or even a long social post.
If it is of interest to them.
The problem is there’s so much rubbish content out there that it can be hard to cut through the noise.
But that’s nothing to do with people’s attention spans. It’s to do with the quality of the content you put out.
So don’t be scared to go long with your blog content, ebooks, white papers or articles. If the content is of value to your ideal clients, they’ll read it (you just have to get it in front of them).
“You should leave marketing and copywriting to the professionals”
I’m not going to deny there are huge benefits to outsourcing marketing to experts.
I started writing copy for clients in 2014, and I’ve had all kinds of feedback about the great results they’ve had.
But that doesn’t mean outsourcing your marketing is the only option.
When you’re starting out, you can’t afford to hire a copywriter to write every social post, every email, every piece of copy.
And you can’t always afford to invest in professional videography. Or hire people to manage all your social accounts. Or pay a graphic designer to create every blog header or Instagram ad.
And you shouldn’t either.
I know from experience that so much changes in the first couple of years of business.
My target audience, my packages, my services – they’ve all changed over the years. And my marketing messages, website copy and content have all changed as a result.
So what’s the point of forking out thousands on a fancy website, and great branding, and amazing copy, if three months later you have to completely change your business model because it’s not working.
There’s so much you can do yourself while you are still figuring things out.
You can always bring in the experts later.
The "advisors" you should steer clear of
I can’t tell you who you should take advice from, but I can tell you who to steer clear of.
Anyone selling a “secret success formula”
Beware of anyone selling you a course, webinar or event where you’re promised overnight success, guaranteed results, or any other unrealistic outcome.
There is no secret formula, no magic bullet, no one simple trick.
Building a business requires hard work and effort. If you’re looking to get rich quick, you’re a prime candidate for the six-figure gurus selling snake oil.
Anyone struggling to get clients of their own
Getting clients isn’t always easy – every business has peaks and troughs in sales.
But if you’re looking for marketing advice, don’t get it from someone who is openly admitting they are struggling for work.
If their marketing tactics aren’t working for them, why would you copy what they’re doing?
Look for people who have the kind of business you want and figure out what they’re doing. Get advice from people whose marketing is getting results.
Anyone with zero marketing knowledge
As well-meaning as your friends and family might be, if they have zero marketing experience and zero success of running their own business, they probably aren’t the best people to seek advice from.
There are hundreds of good marketers out there and hundreds of businesses doing their own marketing and getting amazing results.
Look to them to see what they are doing and decide whether it could work for you. Remember everything works for someone but nothing works for everyone.
Marketing advice you should follow
There are no guarantees in marketing, but there are some things you can do to improve your chances of getting the results you want.
The secret to marketing is simple: get the right message in the right place at the right time. So how can you do that?
Figure out who you want to attract
You’ll find it much easier to create the right message if you know who you’re trying to attract.
You don’t have to go as far as knowing your ideal clients’ average shoe size (unless you sell shoes), but at least narrow it down from “anyone with a credit card”.
Your ideal client is never anyone. Because not everyone needs what you sell. Not everyone will want it from you. Not everyone will see value in it.
And if you’re honest, you don’t want to do business with just anyone, do you? Do you really want to work with someone who is rude to you? Or someone who tries to haggle you down on price? Do you want to help someone who is immoral or unethical? I hope not.
So if you don’t know who you do want to work with, figure out who you don’t want to work with. Marketing isn’t just about attracting the right people – it’s about repelling the wrong ones as well.
Set realistic objectives
Don’t just invest time and money into marketing and hope for the best – have a plan. What do you want to achieve and how will you measure whether it’s working?
Marketing can take time – for example, SEO isn’t something that will generate results overnight. So be realistic about budget, timescales and expected results.
And measure those results. Test different things to work out what gets the best results. For example, do you get more engagement when you post in the morning or in the afternoon? Do you get more enquiries when you add a book a call link in your emails or when you ask people to reply directly?
Test and measure is the marketing mantra for a reason. If you aren’t trying different things and measuring results, how do you know what works and what doesn’t?
Choose the right channels
Don’t just jump on the latest trend. Think about which channels are right for your business. Where are you most likely to reach your ideal clients? Are they searching for you online? Can you advertise in industry publications? Could direct mail be the easiest way to reach them?
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
I see people slogging away at LinkedIn even though it isn’t working because they don’t have a back-up plan. Or people staying in networking groups they hate because it’s their only source of leads. Don’t limit yourself to one platform or channel.
Don’t stretch yourself too thin
Just as you don’t want to limit yourself, you don’t want to overload yourself either. Unless you have a whole team of marketers, you can’t be doing every type of marketing consistently. Better to do two or three activities well, than twenty activities badly.
Think about the big picture
You can write a blog post, but how will you get people to it and what do you want them to do when they’ve read it? Too often, people rush into a marketing activity without thinking about the bigger picture. Before you invest time and money into anything, figure out how it fits into your wider marketing strategy.
Don’t let your own bias get in the way
Don’t be too quick to dismiss a marketing channel or tactic just because you don’t personally like that approach.
Lots of of people don’t read blogs so they decide blogging is pointless. But 77% of internet users do read blogs.
I prefer reading content than watching videos, but I still create video content because I know some people prefer that.
Some people have huge success with email marketing, others with Facebook ads. YouTube is the biggest search engine after Google.
Marketing is about being where your ideal customers are and sharing stuff they’ll actually engage with, even if it isn’t your preferred channel or format.
Play to your strengths
Ok – this kind of contradicts the point above, because I just said you need to be where your customers are and sharing stuff that will engage them.
And it’s true – your marketing should be about your ideal customers. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be about you too.
Not everyone is funny.
Not everyone writes well.
Not everyone is engaging on video.
So play to your strengths.
If you aren’t entertaining, then be informative.
If you are awkward and uncomfortable on camera, then create written content or podcasts. Or film interview-style videos, rather than selfie-style videos.
If you struggle to write, try using a dictation app and then tweaking what you’ve said. Or hire someone to turn your audio ramblings into blog posts for you.
Do what you’re good at. If it’s writing funny social posts, do that. If it’s writing in-depth white papers, do that. If it’s sharing your expertise and insight in short videos, then do that.
There are plenty of options, so pick the ones that you are most comfortable with.
Do your research
Before you invest time or money into a specific channel or tactic, take some time to understand the basics.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people throw money at SEO without understanding what they are actually paying for. Or making videos without having a plan for sharing them and maximising reach.
You don’t have to go out and get a degree in marketing, but at least do a little bit of research into the basics.
And if you’re looking at getting marketing support or advice, do some research into the person giving it. Are they getting proven results from their marketing or have they delivered results for others? Look at their reviews/recommendations. Check out their website.
Do they practice what they preach (and is it getting results for them)? Why would you listen to someone telling you a blog is absolutely essential for attracting customers if they haven’t got a blog themselves? Or someone telling you LinkedIn is the only marketing you need to do even though they’re promoting their services on six other platforms?
Make sure the person you’re seeking support from is credible before giving them your money.
Invest in your copywriting skills
Yeah, yeah. I know I’m biased and I know I sell copywriting courses so I have a vested interest. But copywriting is genuinely the best marketing skill you can develop.
It’s the one skill that will benefit any type of business, in any sector.
It can be transferred from platform to platform and be applied to almost any type of marketing – email, socials, SEO, direct mail, print ads, online ads, blogs, video scripts.
Seriously – if you invest in learning one marketing skill, make it copywriting.
At the very least, sign up to my free copywriting emails to learn the basics. Better still, sign up to my emails and a load of other copywriters’ emails. Learn from the experts then put what you learn into practice.
If you know what good copy looks like, you’re less likely to put out bad copy.
Trust your instincts
It’s your business so don’t be afraid to trust your instincts. If you feel like something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And if someone recommends doing something you truly feel uncomfortable with, don’t do it.
There are hundreds of ways you can promote your business, so don’t feel pressured into doing stuff just because someone else tells you you should.
But do something. Because sitting quietly and waiting patiently is a terrible strategy. If your potential customers don’t know you exist, they won’t buy from you.
Hi – I’m Lisa
If this is your first time here, thanks for reading.
I’m Lisa – owner of Make Your Copy Count Ltd, and author of the ‘A-Z of Blogging’ and ‘The Freelance Fairytale‘.
If you’d like to get to know me a bit better, sign up for my daily email here.