I work with many clients (I just can’t hold down a job), and I see one thing over and over. Somewhere along the way, a memo went out that marketing needs to be dazzling. Clever. So smart. Breathtakingly new.

I’m not really sure who wrote the memo, but they were wrong, and it’s screwing up a lot of really good marketers.

Marketing has just one purpose–to sell stuff. No matter whether you think you are raising brand awareness, improving brand image, or five other things that marketers are asked to do, the fact is that none of those things are important if we don’t eventually sell stuff.

Selling stuff probably isn’t as hard as we are making it. What I see all the time is the idea that we need to work really hard on our marketing to do something that has never been done before, and will take the industry by storm.

You don’t have to. In fact, I am not even sure it is a good idea.

For every bright new idea, there are dozens of dumb ones. To me, it is more important that we know how to tell them apart than it is to kill ourselves to come up with something new.

If all you do is figure out how to measure which ideas sell stuff and which don’t, then you don’t need to prove your value based on how new, clever, or exciting your idea is. You can prove your value based on how much stuff you sell.

It turns out that being consistent about what your customer needs and providing it is a lot easier than being novel and clever all the time. Your customers never asked for clever–they just want to solve their problem.

When you let yourself off the hook for smarter and settle for effective, you will find you don’t need to work so hard. And that will be a good thing for you and your customers.