The elusive silver bullet in marketing


When I get approached by new clients, what they really want is the silver bullet. The ‘one thing’ that will transform their business to an (almost) overnight success. Oh, and it can’t be too expensive (unless you can GUARANTEE it will work) and won’t take too much of their time or effort.

The fact is, the “silver bullet” in marketing is as elusive as a unicorn. Much as we’d all love it to exist, it doesn’t.

Yet people get rich on promising the silver bullet. “Do X and you’ll make a million Ys”. People want to believe in it, even when it seems too good to be true. And they get burned. They put all their hope and effort on the next big thing (SEO, social media, a ‘big ad’, an app) and ignore the host of other things they need to be doing.

To top it off, many businesses wait till sales are slow to really start focusing on marketing, making their jobs harder than ever.

Over twenty years of successful marketing programs, I’ve found ‘marketing that delivers’ is really about regular experimentation, consistency when you do find decent results, and an ability to go back to the beginning when something that’s always worked stops working.  It’s often about doing what’s uncomfortable (picking up the phone, following up), continually seeking inspiration (not just from your competitors), taking risks, trying to make your product or service remarkable and working just a little harder and longer than everyone else.

So instead of looking for the silver bullet, recognise upfront that successful marketing is a cumulative effect of a number of activities and factors, some of which you’ll never have control over. So maintain the focus on the elements that you can control, like: building and keeping in touch with your database, developing relevant and exciting content, consistent seeking referrals, serving your customers well, building a great reputation, maintaining a presence and staying committed to a quality product or service.

An ongoing and consistent and creative marketing program is the real silver bullet.

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