THERE IS NO HOLY GRAIL IN MARKETING

From an early age, our minds are trained to pursue the single answer that’s best for any situation. Whether it’s a question on a math test, a color choice for our living room, a career path, or a religion, we tend to believe that there is one single choice that rules out all others.

But when it comes to marketing, that’s rarely wise. Business owners will try to identify the marketing or advertising strategy that will be most productive for them. They’ll try radio advertising, and when that doesn’t produce the results they want, they’ll switch to sending direct mail, and when that doesn’t create a jump in sales, they’ll buy cable TV commercials, and when that falls short of their expectations, they’ll try a new online strategy … and it goes on and on.

The fallacy in that approach comes down to two assumptions: first, that one channel is inherently better than the others, and second, that marketing investments are best when they’re limited to that single channel. For most companies, the best approach is a mix of multiple channels, managed so that each builds upon the other. And which channel works best depends upon the company, its audience, the message, and a host of other factors.

Just because radio worked well for your last effort doesn’t mean that cable TV wouldn’t be a better choice this time. Or maybe the right channel is direct mail. There’s no simple answer, because there are so many variables. If your audience is broad and diverse, then maybe radio or newspaper advertising are the right choice. If you’re targeted a carefully defined group, such as former customers, direct mail or email will perform better.

Yes, it’s frustrating, but what part about managing a business is easy? Taxes? Personnel? Regulations? The key is to learn all you can and use that knowledge to make the best choices. And if you don’t have the time or desire to learn, find an expert who can help you, the same way you probably turn your taxes over to a skilled CPA. But if you keep looking for a magical marketing solution, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.

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