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(Editor’s note: Francis Moran is managing partner of the marketing firm Francis Moran & Associates. This story originally appeared on his blog.)

Very often when we’re pitching a new piece of business, the prospect starts to wonder out loud about whether everything that could be done for them on the marketing front is being done. It’s not an unreasonable line of inquiry.

Far too often, however, that line of inquiry leads to a terribly silly question being asked: “What’s the one thing we could be doing that we’re not doing that’s going to turn everything around?”

Marketing professionals working inside companies tell me they regularly hear the same thing from their executives. In short, these people are wondering if there’s a marketing silver bullet.

While there may well be intelligent and high-value marketing options that are not being pursued, I have never found an instance where some single initiative would magically turn things around. Marketing simply doesn’t work that way.

Entire forests have been cleared and pulped into paper to print all the studies that establish that customers need to hear the same message several times and across several different channels before they are moved to take action on it. This means that effective marketing must be a strategically planned and coherently integrated campaign of multiple tactics designed to engage your prospects in as many different places as possible or affordable with mutually reinforcing messages whose impact accumulates over time.

When I hear the silver bullet question, I know what’s gone wrong, and it ain’t that some single high-impact initiative is being left undone. What’s gone wrong is the strategy. Specifically, there isn’t one, or it’s inadequate, or it’s not being adhered to.

Here’s what I mean.

A properly developed marketing strategy engenders high-level confidence that all appropriate marketing tactics and campaigns were thoroughly considered and that the proper mix is being implemented. A properly developed marketing strategy builds in evaluative mechanisms that reassure clients and corporate executives that they are on the right track, even if the end point is still far out of sight. A properly developed marketing strategy does not leave people wondering if there is something more they could be doing.

Your customers aren’t werewolves. Stop looking for a silver bullet and start planning your marketing strategically.

(About the author: For  30 years, Francis Moran has navigated the fault lines between journalism and public relations, between technology companies and their markets. Having worked as a consultant, reporter and editor, Francis is an insightful marketing and public relations strategist, an expert writer and a seasoned veteran of the specific challenges of helping B2B technology companies engage with their marketplace and those who influence it. You can reach him at

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