Marketing truth #3: There is no silver bullet

94156126  I hate to break it to you, but there's no magic marketing tactic.  

  • There's nothing you can do once or twice and voila, you have customers.  
  • You can't change gears every time you turn around and hope to build up awareness, let alone the desire to try your product.
  • You can't chase every shiny new object, thinking it's going to make you an overnight sensation.

Folks — marketing is not about a silver bullet.  It's not that sexy or that complicated.  Marketing, whether you want to hear this or not….is churning it out, day in and day out.  It's about being disciplined enough to create a plan and then work the plan.  Long after you're bored with it.

That's why most companies don't do it well.  When you boil it down — it's kind of boring.  Sure, it's fun to brainstorm a new ad campaign.  But that same campaign isn't all that interesting 24 months later.

Let me tell you a little story to illustrate my point.  We have a client who has a product in a very competitive niche within the over the counter pharma category.  Lots of Goliaths in their hen house.  Our client is the David in this story.  They'll never outspend their competitors.

Several years ago, they decided that having a presence in key trade shows where their referral sources (docs, pharmacists, nurses, etc) flocked was going to be their #1 effort.  They've not wavered from this strategy.  

They've tweaked their booth, their "come to the booth" enticements and their follow up, as they've learned.  But they've stayed the course.  In the beginning, they didn't attract much attention.  But now, their key referral sources seek them out at the shows.  They come to ask about the product or tell a success story. Then our client stays in touch with these contacts all year long.  The relationship that is born at the trade show is nurtured and then renewed at the next show.

The benefit of this boring "do the same thing over and over" method of marketing?  They're enjoying double digit growth.  Double digit.  In 2010.  When most OTC pharma products are struggling to hold onto the marketshare they've had.

Oh wait…did I mention that they're the most expensive product in the category?

  • If they only did shows every once in awhile, would they be enjoying this success?  No.
  • If they had rushed to social media and abandoned the old fashioned trade show tactics, would they be enjoying this success?  No.
  • If they'd tried trade shows for a year and then given up, would they be enjoying this success?  No.
  • If they "winged" their marketing efforts, never doing any budgeting or planning, would they be enjoying this success?  No.

Stop looking for the silver bullet and roll up your sleeves.  Marketing is hard, sweaty, dull, often boring work.  The silver lining?  Most of your competitors won't bother.

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21 comments on “Marketing truth #3: There is no silver bullet

  1. I agree on that marketing is one kind of plan of strategy that you need to think first and then need to put it in action.

  2. Hi Drew.

    You basically summarized what I hate about pharma companies. It’s not about their product’s efficacy and security. It’s about selling it. It doesn’t matter if the patient will get better. It doesn’t matter if the product hasn’t been adequately studied. It doesn’t matter if it’s only a placebo. Health sells and companies take advantage of this.

    Sorry about my rant. I love your blog. I really like learning how advertising works. I just feel we have to draw a line when dealing with people’s lives and health. Drugs and medical interventions should be implemented only if they work. Lots of OTC drugs are useless (obviously, I don’t know anything about the example you mentioned). The reality is that there are millions and millions of dollars invested and companies do anything to sell their products, even if studies don’t show their products work. Some companies use bribes (in form of free lunches or free travel). Some even use ghostwriters for their research. All of this, to convince the doctor that their product “works”.

    This is not ethical from their part. Where do marketing companies stand in this?

  3. rob sellen says:

    Ha… I sure hope more and more people come to realise this Drew, this elusive magic bullet sure has a lot of people chasing it. 😉

    People should get it into their heads that the 4 letter word is unavoidable… work!

    Without that, we have nothing to base anything on, nothing does itself, no real short cuts, nothing of the sort and it amazes me how people will assume otherwise.

    I have had people say, “yeah, but it’s ok for you you’ve already done the work” … um, “yes, now it’s your flaming turn”.. 😉 is more often than not my reply.

    Like they say, it takes years to get overnight success. 😀

    People are funny like that!

  4. J.D. Meier says:

    True there is no silver bullet. I’d add the buckshot approach doesn’t work well either … spraying efforts and hoping something hits the target.

  5. Cyndi Papia says:

    The avenues available to get the message out may change (i.e., Social media, internet, email, etc.) but the foundation has not: have a plan, evaluate it periodically, use mainstream (paper, mail-outs) and web-savvy marketing, and do it on a consistent basis. And most of all, be honest in your advertising and treat potential clients and current clients as people, like them as people, not for the money. I’ll take long-term gains over quick, take ’em for all you can and run any day.

  6. Sam says:

    That’s a great example of a Marketing team that came up with an effective campaign in their strategy sessions first, then did well to implement. I agree that sticking with a smart formula is a powerful strategy, but I wonder what would have happened had they chose to go a different route.

    For example, would they be experiencing this double digit growth if they had chosen to go to the social networking route and build their overall online presence?

  7. buy my house says:

    thank you so much for sharing this information with us, it is pretty interesting.

  8. This is a really interesting example of what those of us who have been in sales for ages know but frequently chose for forget. If we have a good product not only do we have to stay the marketing course we know to be the right one but we also need to invest money as well as time. A lot of people are turned onto Social Media because it’s free and you can do it whenever you like from home. That’s really useful for solo businesses but is not necessarily an alternative to the hard slog of getting out there and meeting people. Sustained business, in the end, is done by people with people they have met, know and trust.

    (my first contribution to this group; hope it’s ok)

  9. Desmond says:

    I liked Rob’s comment about the buck shot, so very true. My 2 cents is customer service, it goes hand in hand with your client Drew, there was a level of trust and consistancy built at the trade shows, and a face to the product. People love talking about themselves, and if it involves your product even better!!

  10. uggs on sale says:

    for all you can and run any day.

  11. Marcus says:

    Hi Drew,

    It’s a good point you have, but how do you really know if they hadn’t tried different things that they wouldn’t be successful – your point about not rushing into social media doesn’t hold too much value considering that on the flip side, some companies did do that and had incredible success. While I respect your argument, I think some of the points are sweeping statements that for 50% of businesses will be true, and 50% won’t be – but hey, it’s all opinion right.. I only raise the argument as I have seen a lot of businesses contradict some of these points.

    Anyway, thanks for the article anyway.. it’s food for thought 🙂

  12. Joe Winn says:

    Nice post, Drew. It’s a very truthful point you drive home: better to strategically refine a successful campaign than to abandon what works in hopes of achieving unattainable success per some magical elixir.

  13. bushnell says:

    I liked Rob’s comment about the buck shot, so very true. My 2 cents is customer service, it goes hand in hand with your client Drew, there was a level of trust and consistancy built at the trade shows, and a face to the product. People love talking about themselves, and if it involves your product even better!!


  14. Doug Rawady says:

    Great article, Drew! This same philosophy is applicable not just to marketing, but also sales and customer service. In our ADD society we’re all too often tempted to abandon an existing approach or strategy (before we’ve given it sufficient time to gel) by the latest bells, whistles and Gee Whiz performance claims.

    The effectiveness of any approach or process can’t be properly measured and evaluated if the approach hasn’t had the benefit of at least 6 – 12 months of focused, concerted effort. It takes time for most good strategies to gain traction, and if a business doesn’t have the patience to stick with a strategy for that long they’re going to be forever chasing (and spending time and money on) the next big thing. Or as you put it, the silver bullet.


  15. Christina says:

    So true, there’s no bullet proof plan or readily made plan that will get you an overnight success because if there is, everybody would want to go into business. Nice post.

  16. Tom says:

    Thanks, some good common sense advice there. It’s all too easy to get attracted by the next ‘big idea’ and forget to concentrate on just working away at it. And yes you are right, most people don’t bother!

  17. One thing that I find really scary about marketing is that we mostly over and underestimate things through are own plans, where some parts are unable to be delivered with the intended actions to be taking

  18. Your posts are always great. Keep them coming.

  19. JC Will says:

    I like what you are saying. I;m new at this blogging acutally I trying to be an Affiliate for
    I do try to put something on it everyday I have missed a few because I was trying to get 3 more sites started.
    I will try harder on all 4 of my sites.

    Thank you

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