The marketing magic bullet does not exist

16454031 We get seduced sometimes.

In the day, TV spots were sexy and everyone had to have one.  Websites were the rage.  Now it's social media.  Are they good marketing tactics.  You bet.  And..equally so, good God no.

Marketing is not a one size fits all gig.  Lots of agencies might love to sell you their cookie cutter solution but the fact of the matter is…. there's no marketing magic bullet.

It's a custom-designed suit sort of effort.  Because no two organizations are built the same.

Every business wants to generate new business.  That’s the commonality.  But that’s just about all that’s the same. 

Some sell high-ticket or very specialized items and services.  They only need a handful of new clients to meet their goals.  If you sell software for $200,000, you probably don't need too many sales to have a good year.  Or, if your commission on a $75,000 sale is $35,000 — again, you don't need to make a sale a day.

Others are all about volume.  When you sell Coke, you need to sell lots of bottles every day.  They have a large ability to deliver quantities of their offerings and they want the pipeline full. 

This is where the “one size fits all” marketing theories fall apart. 

The high-ticket/specialty client can and should spend more money per client acquisition.  Their efforts need to be about honing in on exactly the right prospects.  They are likely to spend more money on profiling prospects to make sure they don’t waste a lot of time talking to buyers who have no interest or no ability to buy their wares.

Once they’ve identified “the who” they can get down to telling their story.  Because the numbers are small, the marketing tactics that most often make sense for them are ones that allow them to speak directly to those potential buyers and no one else.  Direct mail, opt-in e-zines, topic specific blogs, niche newspapers or TV shows and peer-to-peer referrals may all be effective options.  Think GPS guided missile.  Very focused.  Little chance of waste.

On the flip side, the volume-focused business wants to reach a much wider audience.  They’re willing to catch a few undesirables in their net, as long as they can harvest a lot of prospects all at once.  Because a wider group of people fit their target parameters, they don’t need to invest in a lot of prospect profiling. 

They’re looking for a wide reach and frequency to encourage that initial trial.  Tactics that might fit the bill for these marketers include couponing, mass media (newspaper, radio, TV, outdoor) advertising, product placement and sampling.  Think shotgun.  Lots of pellets, so the odds of hitting several somethings is pretty good.

So here are a few questions to ask yourself as you think about how to design your custom suit:

  • Assuming we maintain our current base of business (or assume 15% loss, etc) — how many new sales would we need to generate to hit our gross sales goals for the year?
  • Out of 100 people/businesses (depending on what you sell) — how many would be a good fit for us?
  • What's our sales cycle?  Do people think about it for months or a minute?
  • How many new customers could we handle/service/support?
  • Can a marketing tool (blog, website, brochure, ad) sell our offering without much human intervention or do we require lots of explanation, demo, Q&A, etc.?

Don't get seduced by today's hottest trend.  And don't get caught up in the print is dead, TV is dead, XYZ is dead movement.  The truth is…the magic bullet is knowing who you are, who your best customers are and how to best talk to them.  Even if that solution isn't the shiny new thing.

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5 comments on “The marketing magic bullet does not exist

  1. Drew: Bingo…again! We’ll share with others…

  2. Mike Milano says:

    You are spot on! One size doesn’t fit all. Companies in the US waste billions monthly on marketing plans that spray(shotgun pellets)prospects rather than sending direct customized pieces to their targets and viceversa. Who’s at fault when a skinny guy is wearing XXL suit?

    It is three fold: Inside Marketing dept’s, Marketing firms and Printing companies come up with the same static pieces that does not hold either themselves or sales people accountable for their less than personalized marketing plans. Less than 1% response on most marketing plans is not acceptable in my book.
    The funny thing is, people accept this as the norm.

    Like Drew Said “the magic bullet is knowing who you are, who your best customers are and how to best talk to them.”

  3. Michael & Mike,

    I think a lot of it comes down to:
    1) Internal marketing depts are under a lot of pressure to do more with less.
    2) When you cast a wide net, a smaller success rate is acceptable, so it’s safer
    3) It’s easy to reach out to everyone. It’s much tougher to really figure out who your target audience truly is.

    Drew

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  5. I must say, useful information for thinking over.

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