Marketing’s a little bit scary, when you think about it.

Thousands of dollars are on the line. Perhaps hundreds of thousands, or more.

Time will be spent. Priorities will be shifted. Media will be chosen.

Hard decisions will be made, if you’re doing it well. If you’re only making easy decisions, you can likely push a little further.

Strategies will change. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow, or at least not nearly as well.

Your website will eventually be out of date. As will your brand, in time.

(Good strategy doesn’t change that often. Neither does good creative. But it does eventually, as it should, to evolve with the times.)

Because good creative, good strategy, and good execution is just the tip of a very long spear — a spear made up of sales targets, audience needs, product truths, supply chain constraints, the demands of accessibility, staffing decisions, quarterly reports, market changes, and trying to make sense of the ever-shifting list of items that fall under the banner of “best practices.”

(On a side note, best practices are rarely best practices; they’re simply the common ones. At their most effective, best practices simply establish the foundational activities, templates, or approaches that all companies should be putting in place. A spark of creativity beyond that is what gives you a chance of being remembered.)

Silver bullets only take you so far.

Research provides the context, but it’s sometimes hard to tell the next steps. Execution provides the next steps, but it’s sometimes hard to know if the first one is the right one.

Most of all, there’s never truly a right answer. Just a best guess, marrying a hunch to an insight to a business goal to a creative expression to a set of outputs.

Oh, and then you have your agencies and freelancers to manage as well.

It’s not an easy gig. My sincere hats off to the marketing directors of the world for keeping so many plates spinning at once without letting them all crash down on the kitchen floor.

But how the devil do you know what you should make next?

You can’t always tell in advance. Neither can we.

But that’s okay. Because nobody truly can, outside of getting the fundamentals down pat.

Marketing is simply about placing a series of educated, well-intended, finely-crafted bets, that either build off each other to build your brand presence over time, or hit the market at the right moment in time to catch a bit of extra attention through some captured magic in a bottle.

90% of marketing is forgotten. The other half is ignored. And one piece in a hundred makes the right impact to the right person at the right time.

You could optimize your way to the nth degree, but doing so only further divides up existing slices of the pie, rather than make the pie larger.

So let’s get back to first principles.

If you want to make a splash, then don’t say everything. Say one thing.

Say it well.

And say it often.

If you want to build a long-tail funnel of leads, then say a few things.

But in fewer channels than you’d imagine.

And say them well. And say them often.

And the fact that not every dollar is attributable isn’t a curse, it’s a blessing.

Because the point of marketing was never to track every dollar and gain some hope through limitless data.

The point is much simpler than that: to get your name out there, in more ways than one, so that when someone’s thinking about a problem in their lives that your product solves, they might think of you first.

The tactics and channels have wildly changed. But the principles have not.

Make the work you want to see in the world, and the money will follow.