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Have you ever actually found a silver bullet as a marketer?  The ever elusive item that will solve all of your marketing problems rendering all other marketing options useless?  No?  Me neither.  Balance and constantly trying to find additional programs is a much better approach than chasing something that is rarely found.

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar:

Marketing team members running a million miles per hour, no one has any time to think, and always told to go down a path to find a silver bullet to solve everything.  Once they think they found one, the brand buys into the hype of the new silver bullet and is frequently let down.  All too often, they find the ‘silver bullet’ isn’t all its cracked up to be.  Best case scenario is the silver bullet can become another tool in their marketing toolbox.  Worst case, it is a complete dud and so many things were put on hold to chase this silver bullet.

But, as a marketing culture, we are always sent looking for a silver bullet.  So, the cycle continues and the chase for the next silver bullet resumes once the last one is found and rendered useless.  It is certainly a vicious cycle.

As marketers, we need to look less for the silver bullet and instead, look more for tools to put our marketing toolbox.

If we methodically gather more and more tools, we will be more successful in solving marketing challenges along the way. The moment you go from looking to silver bullets to a stacked toolbox is the moment your brand can really thrive as it relates to marketing.  And, if you plan your path accordingly and hold your team, partners, and programs accountable, leadership will stop asking you to find silver bullets and rely on your expertise in your space as you build a proven track record for making great decisions for your brand.

A few of our rules to building the best toolbox possible and making your marketing efforts hit on all cylinders:

1. A.B.T. – Always Be Testing (Even when you have a proven strategy)

I think all marketers do a good job of testing. I think the thing that can kill a marketer is when they are stagnant in their ways once they find a winning tactic/program. A seasoned marketer will use the winning tactic and test against it to see if they can find something to beat the best tactic. By trying new things alongside your best, you may find a new “best” tactic. Or, you may find a new secondary tactic. Better yet, you may find a great new approach to solving a specific marketing challenge your best tactics struggle to solve.

And, a really key note on testing.  Don’t test without patience.  Testing takes measurable goals, patience, and definitely is not just doing something to check it off your list.  Feeling like you have to try something because your brand wants you to check the box is the worst way to test.

2. Measure, adjust, and constantly evaluate

A lot has been discussed as of late regarding digital effectiveness.  Until recent conversations, too many brands didn’t pay attention to performance.  They just checked the box and ran marketing because it was the “right” box to check.Testing alongside regular marketing efforts is wonderful.  However, you must measure the results.  If you can’t measure a marketing tactic in any way, there probably isn’t room for it in your toolbox as it is recklessly draining your budget (most strategies have some measurable value).

Make sure your marketing is working.  If it isn’t, figure out why, change what you can (more testing), and adapt your strategy.  Test. Measure. Repeat.

3. Not all marketing channels are created equal

When you have a great marketing tactic, the kiss of death is assuming it applies to ALL marketing challenges. In the best marketing environments, different tactics are used to solve different challenges. If your brand is looking to get awareness on a limited budget, you’d begin with a focus on digital or social. If you are looking at driving people in the door, you would want to use a tactile tactic like direct mail. You get the point. All channels aren’t created equal. The same thinking would apply for dine-in traffic vs delivery vs catering. Your strategy may differ quite a bit as you attack these challenges.

4. There are rarely silver bullets and not many channels are “dead”

The whole point of your marketing efforts should be to find the best programs to drive your business not to just check something off the list you think you should be trying. There is rarely going to be a silver bullet that solves everything. And, much to the dismay of writers looking for clicks, channels are rarely “dead” as they would have you believe. They may be further down in your toolbox of marketing tactics, but there are certain projects that still call for them as a key tool.

5. Keep balance by listening and exploring

As marketers who are pulled in a million directions, a huge challenge is keeping an open ear to new ideas and views.  The most successful marketers are always out trying to find partners and colleagues that will challenge them and push their marketing to new heights.  It doesn’t always have to be a brand new solution or marketing tactic.  Sometimes, it can be as simple as a new angle or perspective that will give your marketing the right direction.  Those that close off new ideas, conversations, or opinions are a lot less likely to succeed.

One final note, the freedom you will feel as a marketer to stop chasing the elusive and start building a deep and organized marketing toolbox can be amazing.  You will find you spend more time exploring, evaluating, and challenging your team.

And, you will find you spend so much less time banging your head against the wall as yet another silver bullet fails you and you go back empty handed to the drawing board.