Looking for the next big marketing idea? Unless it’s tied to real, bottom-line results don’t bother!

Marketers, advertisers, marketing communication strategists, copywriters, designers, videographers, etc., etc., etc., often talk about “the big idea” – and much of their time, effort and brainstorming activities are directed at identifying that “big idea” – that one thing that will… That will what? It is at this critical juncture between the idea and what that idea is intended to do, I think, where creatives often fail to get the point.

Here’s the thing:

A “big idea” MAY BE clever, innovative, unique, “out there,” etc., etc., etc. It MAY BE all of those things. But there is one thing that it MUST BE: it must be an idea that generates some sort of desired end result. Without that result, big ideas are meaningless.

Consider the E*Trade baby advertisements, certainly a very popular and much talked about series of ads that have run for several years now. Yet, despite the cultural popularity of the ads, the agency behind them is no longer working with E*Trade and, over the past several years, E*Trade has gone through a series of CEOs as it has attempted to achieve the kind of bottom-line results that tend to matter to companies (and, yes, even to not-for-profit companies).

The “big idea” behind those baby ads may have been brilliant (and, I will admit to being a fan), but the reality is that unless these “big ideas” generate some meaningful organizational result they’re more entertainment than advertising. If advertising can be both entertaining and drive results, wonderful. Too often, though, it’s not. Unless your goal in creating advertising is to win awards or entertain audiences (and if you really want to succeed long-term in the business, especially in today’s increasingly competitive environment, I sure hope that’s not your goal), you – and the organizations, or agencies, you work for – are best served by generating results.

Big ideas, without big results, aren’t really so big after all. And, in fact, it is naive to proclaim that you have come up with a big idea, until those results are in.

Business people (the ones who marketing communicators are generally attempting to convince that their big ideas have value) do not really care about “the big idea;” they are not often overwhelmed by “really creative stuff.” They are looking for results. Yes, creativity is important – but only creativity that drives some meaningful and measurable result ultimately matters. There have been many, many agencies and PR professionals that have learned that the hard way.

We talk about the “big idea” in advertising, and the concept certainly has relevance. We must be careful, though, not to become so enamored by a big creative idea that we forgot why we come up with these ideas in the first place: to meet specific goals and objectives with a specific target audience. That’s the big idea!

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