20 Overrated Marketing Tips (And What Businesses Should Do Instead)

Knowing how to effectively market your products or services is crucial to standing out in today’s competitive business landscape. Many entrepreneurs often turn to tried-and-true marketing advice to learn how to better attract and retain customers, but these “staple” tactics don’t always work the same way for every business.

As entrepreneurs gain more experience, it becomes easier to identify what advice will work best for a given business and what advice should be ignored. Below, 20 Forbes Business Council members each share one piece of marketing advice they believe is overrated, as well as suggestions for how an entrepreneur can successfully improve their business’s marketing efforts.

1. Always Stay Positive

One piece of marketing advice that can be overrated is the emphasis on always staying positive and avoiding any form of negativity in marketing campaigns. While maintaining a positive brand image is crucial, there are instances where embracing a more authentic and transparent approach is necessary, even if it involves acknowledging challenges or shortcomings. Consumers today appreciate honesty and transparency. – Trey Ferro, Spot Pet Insurance

2. Aim For Large Audience Reach

Focusing only on reaching a large audience instead of a specific market is an overrated marketing tip to me. In marketing, quality matters more than quantity. To increase engagement and conversion rates, give careful consideration to the unique requirements of your niche audience. As Seth Godin once said, “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” – Kumar Vijayendra, Footsteps LLC

3. Hire An In-House Marketing Team

The idea that every business must have a marketing team inside the organization is not necessarily true. A marketing integrator company that has proven experience with global brands may bring you more value and know-how than one or two hired individuals can. These companies know that their success keeps you in their portfolio, so they will always do the best they can to reach the goals you want in a cost-efficient way. – Magda Paslaru, THE RAINBOWIDEA

4. Focus On Viral Marketing

Overemphasis on viral marketing is overrated. While it’s tempting to chase the allure of a widespread buzz, it’s often unpredictable and not always aligned with brand values. Instead, I recommend focusing on building consistent, meaningful interactions with your audience. This fosters lasting relationships and brand loyalty, far outweighing the fleeting success of viral content. – Stephen Sokoler, Journey

5. Make Highly Produced Online Content

While highly produced social media content is often touted as crucial in marketing, it’s becoming increasingly clear that audiences crave authenticity and real connections. Good audio and genuine-looking content have the power to captivate and engage audiences in ways that highly produced content simply cannot. This strategy can forge deeper, more meaningful connections between brands and their followers. – Ken Kladouris, Platinum Wealth Group

6. Focus On Likes, Comments And Shares

Likes, comments and shares don’t pay the bills. Stop focusing on any of these engagement metrics when running marketing campaigns. Instead, look for ways to generate sales and keep your accounting team busy. – Robert Brill, Brill Media

7. Simplify Your Story And Content

The most overrated advice I constantly hear during marketing events is to simplify the story and content. Yet, in my experience, it is not the simplicity but the consistency that matters. You need a story, even if it is complicated, and you need to then ensure that the whole company delivers the same story. Sales, marketing, product and back office teams should all tell one story. – Gaidar Magdanurov, Acronis

8. Post Often

The advice to post often on social media is overrated, as it can lead to content fatigue. Instead, focus on quality and relevance to engage your audience effectively. – Mohammad Bahareth, MBI

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9. Employ Hard Selling Tactics

The marketing strategy of hard selling, especially when it involves frequent, unsolicited calls, is indeed considered overrated by many. This approach can be intrusive and disruptive, often leading to negative perceptions of a brand, service or product. The main issue with hard selling is that it prioritizes short-term gains over building long-lasting customer relationships – Jochen Schwenk, Crisis Control Solutions LLC / Schwenk AG

10. Prioritize Quantity Over Quality

Focusing on quantity over quality in content is overrated because it dilutes a brand’s message. Creating impactful, high-quality content that engages your audience is better. This strategy fosters stronger connections and sustainable growth, enhancing brand loyalty and marketing effectiveness. – Kameel Gaines, Rig On Wheels Broker & Recruitment Services

11. Center New Customers Over Existing Ones

One overrated piece of marketing advice is prioritizing new customers over existing customers. Balanced marketing values require both acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones. Neglecting loyal customers can harm your business’s reputation. Instead, invest in retention for long-term growth and cost-effectiveness. Satisfied customers become brand advocates, boosting credibility and attracting new business. – Michael Ligon, The Ligon Group, LLC / LigonBrothers

12. Rely On Broad Demographic Targeting

I often find that relying on broad demographic targeting without delving deeper into audience segmentation is overrated. While demographic data provides a general understanding of the audience, it often overlooks individual preferences. I advocate for leveraging data-driven insights to create more personalized and targeted marketing campaigns tailored to specific customer needs and interests. – Johan Hajji, UpperKey

13. Prioritize Email Marketing

Marketing via email is still viable, but it just isn’t what it used to be and is generally overrated. About half of all email on the internet is spam, and even for legit email, open rates for typical marketing- and campaign-oriented emails are generally very low. Businesses instead need to think about more creative and effective ways and places to reach their prospects and existing customer base. – Jason Foodman, Oxzeon.com

14. Do Cold Calls

Any advice recommending you start with a variation of cold calling is overrated. The shortest distance to a sale is always customers who know your value—whether it is re-ups, renewals or referrals. – Gary Romano, Civitas Strategies

15. Hire Digital Experts

I have been told to hire copywriters, social media experts and certified people. The problem with marketing is that the playing field is not level. When we had Yellow Pages and newspapers, advertising was more affordable—but the big companies can now easily outspend the small- to medium-sized business owners. I’m not sure what can happen but the playing field needs to be leveled when it comes to digital. – Allen Kopelman, Nationwide Payment Systems Inc.

16. Rely On Data And Analytics Alone

Sometimes you need to lean on your own gut feelings and not overthink your analytics. Analytics are overrated. Effective data gathering helps decision makers quantify complex issues, but you can’t always rely on data alone. Trust your instincts. Your expertise, experience, and good judgment are critical to good decision making. The best marketing decisions mix data with intuition. – Tom Freiling, Freiling Agency

17. Share Lots Of Data

Quality, quality, quality! Make what you have to say count. I used to think bombarding customers with data was a great thing, but with so much information flooding us on a daily basis and much of it being questionable or just incorrect, we should focus on promoting what we know well. Make others want to hear what you have to say instead of bypassing your content because they do not trust its value. – Lori Walsh, Fourlane

18. Invest Heavily In Social Media

A piece of marketing advice I find overrated is the notion that businesses must maintain a constant organic social media presence. Social media can be a valuable marketing tool, but it’s not the only avenue for reaching customers. Instead of pouring all resources into organic social media efforts, I suggest diversifying marketing strategies and investing in other areas that make sense. – Brandon Aversano, Alloy Market

19. Maintain A Presence On Social Media

Some marketing experts will tell you that you absolutely must have a social media presence, but I think that’s an overrated and outdated piece of advice. As digital offerings expand, many ways exist to connect with your audiences. For example, if your target demographic hangs out on chat channels like Discord more than Instagram, you should spend your valuable time and resources there instead! – Emily Reynolds Bergh, R Public Relations Firm

20. Avoid Focusing On New Business Prospects

One overrated piece of advice is only focusing on your current business operations. While nurturing existing customers is crucial for maintaining a stable revenue stream and building long-term relationships, acquiring new customers is essential for revenue growth, market expansion, offsetting churn and scaling opportunities. It also helps address any revenue gaps or shortcomings. Striking a balance between the two is key. – Adam Povlitz, Anago Cleaning Systems