Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 19, 2009 9:02 PM

Maybe It Is Time For Marketing To Move Away From "The Big Idea"

Everything we do in Marketing, Advertising and Communications comes out of "The Big Idea." It's what drives the marketing strategy, it's what drives the brand and agency to get excited about the campaign, and it's what drives consumers to put their hands in their pockets and hand over their hard-earned dollars.

Maybe it is time for Marketing to move away from "The Big Idea."

Whether we like it or not, times have changed. Prior to the Internet and the social media platforms it has given us, we never could really hear what consumers wanted, we never could listen in on the types of conversations they had between them, and we never could really understand what made them buy, click and share. In a world of Twitter, Facebook status updates, Google Profiles and FriendFeed, we know more than we ever thought we would know and - the truth is - we're barely scratching the surface of what we can do with all this information, data and insight.

On top of that, we are getting this information in real-time (or close to it).

To couple that concept with advertising, in the Mad Men days of wooing the big clients and winning them over with one pitch and one big idea, it was - essentially - a strategy where a brand was putting all of its eggs into one basket (all of them from the same chicken). That big idea had better work, or heads would roll. We all know the professional lifespan of the Chief Marketing Officer (it's anywhere between 1-2 years) and there are very few brands that still maintain a single agency of record for a significant amount of time.

In fact, ad agencies and brands are as fragmented as the media outlets they serve.

So, in a world of media fragmentation, multiple media outlets, new media platforms and brands harnessing multiple agencies to meet their needs, perhaps the time has come to ditch the concept of "the big idea" and move more towards a world of "many ideas." That's not to say that the many ideas should not all tie into the overall strategy, consumer insights or be stunningly perfect (in terms of creative and execution), but that it is to say that in this day and age, winning the marketing game is going to be about doing a lot of little things, over one big thing that brands will then cram into multiple outlets.

Doing "many things" also doesn't mean to think small.

In fact, it's probably a much more difficult strategy to organize and execute. In this era of Digital Marketing it's also a significant amount of work because as the campaigns evolve, so should the creative and strategy. If some of the many ideas don't float, we kill them and move on. If some of the many ideas take off, we nurture, optimize and push on. Our overall marketing strategy and execution becomes a lot more focused on the types of people we're connecting to, where they're connected, and how brands can add value while building trust and community. It sure does sound like it will take more than a "big idea" to get that done.

Maybe, "the big idea" in Marketing today is all about how we're all going to move towards a "many ideas" platform?

Are the days of "the big idea" over? What do you think?

By Mitch Joel