So What’s The Big Idea?

October 28, 2010

During my 30 years (plus) in the advertising and marketing services business, there has always been the latest, hottest, must-do “thang” that both marketers and their agencies seem to focus on with great intensity.  During my days at Ogilvy, packaged goods companies (I worked with Kraft Foods, Helene Curtis and NutraSweet to name a few) got excited about niche marketing, and using non-traditional means to break down their target audience into more defined segments.  That quickly transitioned into direct/database marketing whereby these same companies began to accept the premise that they could, and SHOULD, capture contact information on their most profitable customers and store them in a database.  In full disclosure, we made a lot of money back then showing clients exactly how to do this, and executing marketing plans with the data (good read…”Differential Marketing” by Garth Hallberg, captured many of the behind-the-scenes case studies from these same clients).

With so many years of experience in the rear view mirror, it now seems obvious to me that marketers, and their agency partners, focus way too much time, effort and MONEY on the latest TACTIC, in the absence of a well thought out STRATEGY.  Today Social Media is all the rage, and I take great amusement at the number of inquiries we get (often several times a day) asking about our expertise with Twitter, Facebook, et al.  Each time I ask the same, simple questions:  1) how will it (social media) fit into your overarching marketing strategy? 2) why have you decided Social Media is a “must-do”? 3) what’s the BIG IDEA behind it? Of course, rarely are there answers to these questions.

So what IS the BIG IDEA?  My opinion only…social media, direct marketing, internet advertising, etc. are all tactical channels for reaching people with whom we want to do business.  As the tools become more complex, more time and resources are applied going deeper and deeper into the rabbit holes of each, with little to no time being spent at the level where it should–on the compelling, motivating BIG IDEA.  Only when the STRATEGY at the top has been well-thought-out can the tactical decisions and plans that fit the strategy be executed.  Which is why, all too often, the simple question of “why” Twitter or Facebook can be so perplexing.

To use a metaphor, an intelligent, BIG IDEA marketing plan is the BROOM that results when each of the straws have been bundled together into a cohesive, bound unit. Next time you set about to sweep your garage, try doing it with individual straws and you’ll get the BIG IDEA.

An intelligent marketing plan ties all of the "straws" together into a BIG IDEA that is compelling, motivating and useful..