There’s a part of marketing that will always be fluffy. You can’t be 100% sure that a specific transaction was necessarily driven by your latest advertising. There’s always an element of doubt involved. A part that is faith-based.

But the job of a good marketer is to try to shrink this faith-based element to the smallest possible size. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, the saying goes. This is the job of a marketer: to ensure that you find a very thirsty horse and bring it very close to the cleanest, coldest water. The drinking part must be inevitable, although never certain. This is how marketing should work.

Whenever marketing is considered to be ineffective, too fluffy, unnecessary and simply a waste of money, more often than not it is because it takes short cuts on the basics. It does not identify the thirstiest of horses, meaning the best possible target market. It does not take the horse right to the water, meaning the marketing message isn’t clear. And it is often based on a poor product and bad distribution, meaning the water is too far, murky and smelly. No wonder marketing often does not work. No wonder the horse does not always drink!

No doubt, marketing is fluffy. You still need to cross fingers that the horse will drink! But for goodness sake, what if that horse is deadly thirsty and its mouth is right by the cleanest spring water? Can we agree that it should then drink? That marketing indeed does work? That the fluffy “wishful thinking” part left is very small and within the limits of acceptability of even the harshest of sceptics?

How do you make sure that you cut the fluff to acceptable limits?

  • You need to know exactly who your customer is.
  • You need to know exactly what their needs are.
  • You need to know exactly how to talk to them.
  • You need to make absolutely sure that they hear you.

The rest is unfortunately left to chance. To fluffiness. To magic. But the kind of magic that we should all believe in because the outcome is almost inevitable. The horse will drink!