Top Three Myths About Advertising, Content Marketing and ROI

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by Rebecca Barnes, Publisher, Prince William Living

As a publisher, business owner and professional who keeps things afloat through sales and marketing, I know all about ROI – return on investment. Think about it. I have to. When your main products are advertising and marketing, AND you have to promote your own business, you better know a little bit about what works and what doesn’t.

Prince William Living  is the longest running, locally owned print and online media outlet that covers all of Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. The fact Prince William Living has been here since 2010 should give you an indication I know what I’m talking about. But this isn’t about me. It’s about ROI, the myths that surround it and what you need to know as a business owner and professional.

Myth #1: ROI means the source gets you the sale.

Statistically, it takes seven to twelve “touches” to get people to act, and anything you do in marketing and advertising makes up those “touches.” So, let’s say you’re doing all the right things – advertising in print and online, running sponsored content, doing your social media and blogging, sending out regular newsletters. Now let me ask you a question.

When was the last time you heard anyone say, “I saw this great business advertised through Company X’s Facebook page, and I decided I needed to contact them”? How about, “I read this blog the other day, and it inspired me to buy their product”? If you hear someone say that, you can assume A, they are brand ambassadors (and probably get paid for it), or B, they are so observant and have such a keen memory, they probably belong in the intelligence community.

Seriously, hardly anyone consciously thinks back to where they saw your ad or content, other than to say, “I read it somewhere,” or, “I Googled it.” If you’re putting all those touches out there (advertising and marketing are “touches”), there’s little chance they will recall the exact initiative or campaign that finally made them take action. And with more than 60 percent of all searches being done through Google now, chances are yes, they did Google your phone number because they couldn’t remember it. Of they are just using Google as a verb.

Myth #2: This is taking too long. It must not be working.

Did you know it can take up to six months for a website to show increased traffic, even if the site and the content have been optimized? Think about that. Google is great, but aggregating traffic isn’t fast. It’s a long-term process. So, while you are waiting for people to discover your website, you need to do other things. Get them to see your print ad. Get them to read your newsletter. Get them to follow you on Twitter. This is all part of the larger strategy, and like anything worth investing in, there is no overnight solution. But when you’re getting your touches in consistently and all those parts are moving together in a unified campaign, things are going to happen. They have to, because you’re saturating the market with your ads and content. And if you’re doing it right, you’re not annoying people in the process.

Myth #3: Based on Myths #1 and #2, you’re asking me to just believe what you’re doing is working.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that advertising and marketing are both art and science. And both require some kind of tangible product or evidence. If you don’t know what is going on with your advertising and marketing campaign, ask! Be proactive and make the most of your budgeted dollars.

Rebecca Barnes, PublisherWe at PWL don’t expect our clients to just believe us – though many do because they know they need what we’re offering, they can’t do it on their own and they can trust us. Clients who opt for our visibility packages with print and online advertising and content marketing have the opportunity to invest in strategy consults to go over analytics, approach, content and future plans. During those video or phone sessions, things like sponsored content topics, social media schedules or newsletter frequency can be addressed. Need changes? That’s the time to ask for them. We’ll implement the tweaks and come back two to three months later (depending on your contract) and see how it’s working. Plus, we’ve got a stellar team checking in to make sure you’re on track and using the services you’re paying for. If your advertising and marketing team isn’t doing that for you, it’s time to look elsewhere.

So there you have it. My top three myths of advertising and marketing ROI. There are certainly more out there, and we’ll address those at another time, but this should at least get you thinking. If you’d like to discuss more, email me at


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