Does the Marketing Silver Bullet Exist?

Posted by Corey Smith on Sep 6, 2016 9:32:00 AM

marketing silver bullet

Years ago, in a different life, I was a sales manager in a different industry. I had ten sales associates working for me in outside sales. We won some and we lost some.

Whether we won a deal or lost a deal, I would ask my sales rep to debrief. I wanted to know how it all worked out. I was always much more interested in the reasons we lost deals than the reasons we won deals.

In that highly commoditized industry, more often than not, the reason for losing a deal came back as, "We were too expensive."

That always frustrated me; not because we were over-priced but because the sales rep didn't understand that price is only one part of the buying decision. It's usually not even the most important part.

The Traditional Marketing Mix

If you have ever taken a college marketing class, you have likely heard the four Ps of marketing.

  • Product
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Place

While I think there is value in discussion (in a future post) about how this has evolved with inbound marketing, the basic tenents of marketing are the same.

Even if we give each of the four Ps equal weight, price is only 25% of the marketing mix.

It's never one thing

Back to my story of my sales reps. The bottom line is they were outsold. The customer told the sales rep he was too expensive because they felt too bad to tell him the real reason.

Oh, there are many reasons why someone doesn't buy and it's usually a combination of a few things. Think about the last time you decided to buy one thing over another. Sure, price was a component but not a major component.

  • I don't like how you look.
  • I don't trust you.
  • I don't think you can do what you say you are going to do.
  • I feel more comfortable with this other choice.
  • I can't understand your product.
  • You aren't a very good sales person.

In a case where there is no perceived difference between what you are selling and what someone else selling, price becomes the equalizer. When a customer doesn't understand the difference then the only thing they are left to compare is the price.

Is There a Marketing Silver Bullet?

There are many agencies that will try to convince you that you'll only have to do one thing to be successful. What's truly a miracle is that one thing happens to be the exact thing that agency sells.

  • If they sell search engine optimization (SEO) then you'll be successful if you buy SEO.
  • If they sell link building then you'll be successful if you buy link building.
  • If they sell radio advertising then you'll be successful if you buy radio advertising.

You see the pattern, right?

Herein lies the myth. There is never one thing you can do to be successful.

It's always a combination of things.

The real marketing silver bullet is creating a solid strategy and then executing on that strategy. Your strategy should include a variety of tactics that all come together to accomplish a major goal.

For example, search engine optmization (SEO) has a goal of getting ranked higher in the search engines. That doesn't help if your website is so poorly built that people don't want to contact you. PPC (pay-per-click) has the goal to drive people to a page but that doesn't matter if the page you drive people to doesn't give your audience something meaningful to do.

So, I'll leave you with a simple question: Are you treating one (or a series of) tactic(s) as your marketing silver bullet, or do you have a truly solid, integrated strategy that will allow you to see success? If don't have a solid, integrated strategy, then you might need some help to make that happen. 

You can start by taking our free self-assessment:

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Corey Smith

Written by Corey Smith

Corey Smith is the founder of Tribute Media and serves as the Digital Marketing Strategist. He is also the author of "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter."

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