This article is debunking common marketing myths. Image with digital marketing words

[Big Cheese Expertise Guest Post] Hi, I’m Guy Routledge, co-founder of Sapling Digital. We work with food and drink start-ups looking to make an impact on the market, so I’m busting 5 common marketing myths that will make your PR, sales and online marketing a lot less scary to do.

Marketing your food business can feel like a daunting task…

It might be something you’ve been putting off.

It might be something you’re keen to do, but you’re not sure where to start.

There are so many channels and tools that promise the earth when it comes to growing your audience and making more sales, that even picking just one can feel very overwhelming.

There’s a lot of information out there and wading through it all can feel like a full-time job, especially when not all of the advice, tips, tactics and strategies are suitable for every type of businesses.

Start-ups don’t have big budgets so they have to be entrepreneurial in the way they approach marketing, PR and sales. What works for the big brands won’t work for small businesses.

In this post, we’ll bust 5 marketing myths about online sales and marketing and look at what you can do to move forward in the fastest, cheapest and most effective way.

Marketing Myths: You Have to Hire an Expensive Agency to Get PR Results

Traditional PR involves writing lots of press releases and blasting them out to anyone and everyone. You cross your fingers and hope that someone is interested in what you have to say. That’s the equivalent of going to a dinner party and shouting “look at me, look at me” through a megaphone all night long. No thanks.

One of the common marketing myths around PR is that you shout into an empty room when sebding out press release. This is demonstrated by a woman shouting into a loudspeaker.

PR doesn’t have to be expensive. Instead of shouting from the rooftops and hoping someone will listen, you can be smarter and get much better results with much less effort.

If you’ve tried the 10-day free trial in The Smoothie Bar, you’ll know that all the cool kids are doing ‘responsive PR’ rather than ‘traditional PR’.

Responsive PR involves seeking out and responding to requests from journalists themselves. This is a much more effective use of your time and has a much higher likelihood of you being featured.

At The Food Rush, we publish an online food and sustainable living magazine and we’re constantly inundated with crappy press releases. Most of these are quickly filed in the virtual bin. But when we put out a request for certain types of brands or products, you can be sure we read through all the relevant submissions to find the best brands to share with our audience.

To learn more about responsive PR, have a listen to Smoothie PR’s very own Charlotte Moore on this episode of the Good Foodies podcast.

Marketing Myths: Marketing is All About You

Remember the dinner party guest with the megaphone? Making your marketing all about your brand has a very similar ring to it.

It’s important to be clear about who you are and what products you have to offer. But, if you’re always talking about yourself rather than your customers – even the most loyal ones – will get tired and switch off eventually.

People like to overcomplicate marketing but essentially it’s about finding ways to be interesting to your target customer. And one of the best ways to do that is to put your customer at the centre of all your marketing activities and messages.

Make your customer the hero of your brand story rather than trying to play the hero yourself.

Marketing Myths include trying to marketing to everyone instead of your target customer. Scrabble tiles spell out know your customer

The fact is that most people don’t care about you or your brand.

They care about themselves and they’re only interested in what’s in it for them. If you can tap into that, you’ll go far!

Instead of talking about your product, tweak the message to relate to how it fits into your customer’s day. Talk about how it benefits them, brings them joy, fills a void or improves their health.

Your customers have:

  • Dreams
  • Aspirations
  • Daily struggles
  • Frustrations 

Your products may satisfy one or all of those things.

And if you can find a way to align your customers’ needs with your products and stories you tell, you’ll find your messages resonate much more. The end result is you’ll end up creating a deeper connection with your audience.

Marketing Myths: Search Engine Optimisation Will Get you Discovered

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a powerful tool in your digital marketing toolbox. But simply optimising your existing website content probably won’t help you get found in search.

There’s a common misconception that websites rank for search keywords. That’s not true. Pages rank for search keywords.

If you want to be found through search you need a lot of content for Google (and other search engines) to look through and index.

Each page, recipe or blog post should be optimised individually for specific keywords. These keywords should be ones that your target customer is using to find information and products like yours.

Another misconception is around which keywords you should choose to optimise for.

If you’re a gluten-free bakery you might think you should optimise your content for the search term ‘gluten free’. But there’s SO MUCH competition for generic keywords like these. Your chance of ranking anywhere for something so general is incredibly low.

Instead, try to optimise content for longer keyword phrases called long-tail keywords. An example might be ‘gluten free vegan cupcakes in London’. These have less competition and are more specific to a particular product or piece of information your customer might be looking for.

Marketing Myths around SEO is that it's complicated, Writing recipes, tips and blog posts all count towards your SEO. Image is of SEO written on a notepad

In addition to content optimised for long-tail keywords, you need to keep your content fresh. At the bare minimum, you should keep your homepage up to date with interesting offers. But in an ideal world, you’d embrace content marketing and post regular content in the form of:

  • Recipes
  • Tips
  • Blog posts
  • Other valuable information that your customers enjoy engaging with

This gives search engines a reason to come back and crawl new content on your site on a more regular basis.

Marketing Myths: Selling Online is Technical and Expensive

Setting up an online store used to be something you’d need an expensive developer or an agency to do it for you. Every time you wanted to make a change, add a product or launch an offer, you’d have to pay them to update the site. At the very least you’d have to pay for ongoing support or hosting.

I used to build eCommerce platforms and digital marketing microsites for big food brands. A single project would commonly cost tens of thousands and take weeks or months to complete. This still happens at one end of the market but eCommerce is now much more accessible and affordable for startups and small businesses.

With eCommerce platforms like Squarespace, Wix and Shopify you can quickly launch a great looking online store and retain control. 

Marketing Myths confuse people by suggesting that selling online is hard when it isn't. Image shows keyboard and mobile phone displaying shopping cart from online shop

You can make updates whenever you want (for free). If you do ever need professional help, there’s plenty of people familiar with these platforms ready and waiting to be hired.

Instead of £20,000 for a custom-built online shop, you can now get started from about £20 per month. Given this and lots of other benefits, selling online is now a bit of a no-brainer, even for brands that are just getting started.

Marketing Myths: You Need To Be Everywhere

When it comes to marketing, it often feels like you need MORE of everything.

More followers, more email subscribers, more engagement, more traffic, more fill-in-the-blank-here. As a result, you’ll probably go chasing shiny new things.

New channels.

New software.

Maybe hiring new experts and consultants.

It’s very easy to spend a lot of time and money spreading yourself very thin. This leads to a lot more work to do, none of which yields particularly impressive results.

Instead of being on every social media channel, pick ONE to start with.

Marketing Myths confuse peopleinto thinking they need to be everywhere on social media when they don't. Image shows washing line with like, share and follow written in speech bubbles pegged on it

There are two key considerations when choosing your primary channel. Which one suits you the most? And where are your target customers hanging out?

  • If you already spend lots of time on Instagram – for personal enjoyment – you probably won’t mind checking in with your business profile at least once per day
  • If you love chatting to friends and colleagues on Twitter, make that the primary channel for your business
  • If you’re a part-time novelist alongside running your food business, maybe combine your passions and use blogging as your primary channel

Whilst it’s important to choose a channel that you’re comfortable with, do also make sure that it’s somewhere that you’re likely to find your audience.

If you choose one of the mainstream social channels – like Instagram, Facebook or Twitter – they’re big enough that it’s likely at least SOME of your audience hang out there. If you have a niche audience then there may be niche publications they read or forums where they congregate. Finding these kinds of channels is harder but incredibly valuable.

Bonus Marketing Myth: Marketing is Complicated

People like to overcomplicate marketing and they think it’s all about using the latest tactics, tools and tech to put yourself out there.

Well, you can do that but if you’re not basing your marketing on fundamental principles, it won’t make an impact and can often fail to engage customers.

Marketing for startups is very different than marketing big brands with big budgets. And learning the fundamental principles of marketing is the most important first step.

Once you’ve got a grasp on the principles you can embrace the limitations of being a small business and take an entrepreneurial approach to marketing.

You’ve been resourceful enough to get your business off the ground. Now you can apply this approach to growing your audience and spreading the word about your brand.

Marketing Myths include people thinking that marketing is complicated when it can be easy. Image shows words associalted with marketing on torn pieces of paper

Special Offer for Smoothie PR Readers!

To learn four of the most important marketing principles, sign up for our free online training course.

eCommerce Essentials for Food Startups will show you how to take control of your sales. You’ll learn to attract your ideal customers and make higher margins by cutting out the middleman. By selling online you’ll ultimately win more negotiating power over retailers.

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about marketing. But one thing is certainly true: people are hungry for what you have to offer. Whatever the size of your audience or the scale of your business, more people want to discover you. You just have to align yourself with them and get the word out.

For more tips, advice and podcast interviews similar to what you’ve just read, be sure to follow Sapling Digital on Instagram and Twitter.

More food for thought…

Hey, Charlotte here, thanks for reading through to the end! If you enjoyed this then you’ll love ‘How to create an engaging video‘ and ‘How to find and share your brand’s personality‘.

Or, hang out with us for a bit longer and try out my 10-day free trial in The Smoothie Bar – I’ll teach you how to do your own responsive PR in only 10 mins a day!

The Smoothie Bar teaches fab foodie start-ups how to do their own responsive PR in 10 mins a day for only £59pm

The Smoothie Bar 10-Day Free Trial

(You only get to do this free thing once, so make sure you’ve got Twitter, a FB account and those 10 mins a day ready!)

Join us in The Smoothie Bar and learn how to do your own responsive PR in only 10 minutes a day. This is a quick and easy way for any start-up working in the food industry – producers, consultants, nutritionists etc. – to get their brilliant brand out there.

We take your card details at this stage so that you can easily become a Smoothie at the end of the free trial if you want to stay. No first payment is ever taken without your say so.

Click below to set up your card details and join the free trial.

What happens once I’ve pushed the button?

1. Enter your card details, sign up for emails during the trial and do the GDPR thing. 

2. You’ll get an invite link to The Smoothie Bar Facebook group and receive your welcome pack.

3. Check into the group for 10 minutes a day and get your PR party started!