The Myth of Marketing Channels

Everyone talks about testing out all your marketing channels to see what works before investing heavily in one or two of them. I think this is complete bullshit, at least for small businesses, there are so few ways to grow that you have to do all of them.

Sure, if you’re a B2B operation that only sells 5-year contracts to Farmers then blindly investing in Instagram ads probably doesn’t make sense. But that hardly warrants saying.

For most businesses, you only have 5 major ways to grow your business:

  1. Paid search
  2. Search engine optimization
  3. Social ads
  4. Email marketing
  5. Content marketing

The idea here is that you can pick one or two, test them out, see what works, try a few others, and then double down on the ones that work for you.

This is just blatantly wrong because you have to do all 5. It all starts with some form of content marketing, whether your product is the content or you’re writing helpful articles, writing the articles alone isn’t going to do anything.

You have to get the content in front of people. That means sharing them on social or with your email list. If you don’t have either of these then you’re down to paying for ads, whether that’s on search or social platforms.

Yes, you can technically optimize your content for search but it will take ages to get indexed. The actual workaround of getting ranked comes from building backlinks. That’s down to creating connections in your industry, which is either going to boil down to content or email marketing.

So instead of thinking about marketing channel experimentation as something you pick and choose I think it’s more realistic to think of the whole thing as a sales funnel.

You have your product or content that needs to get eyeballs at the top of the funnel. This either happens via social, ads or getting ranked on search engines.

Then once someone signs up for your product or content you have to nurture them to the point of actuality purchase. This almost invariably happens with an email sequence for B2C products or a sales sequence for B2B companies.

This idea that you can see which channel works for you is rubbish when you’re starting out, you have to use them all to build a sales funnel. Investing in Google ads and not having an email capture for people that don’t sign up is madness.

That said the 5 major channels I outlines are not absolute. For example, I think of Amazon ads, influencer marketing, or direct sponsorships as Social ads. Are cold email outreach and doing sales calls part of email marketing? Where does getting mentioned in the press fit into all of this? Or what about hosting industry events and going to tradeshows. What about building virality into the product? Then there’s even emerging tech like VR.

Yes, there’s lots of room to experiment on the edges here and see what works for your business but at the core of it, there are a few major ways to grow your business. the idea that you can pick and choose here is a myth, when you’re small you have to do all of them in combination.


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