Alternative marketing thinking


The Power Of Small Ideas

Ask any young person being interviewed to join advertising and s/he will tell you how s/he is attracted by the possibility of producing big, world-changing ideas. Managers and planners have often tried to inspire their creative teams to go after big branding ideas. Yes, our business has been built around the possibility of producing something big and special.

Maybe all that is beginning to change. Anyone who got a chance to read David Weinberger’s new book Everything Is Miscellaneous will understand that the large silos into which the world used to be categorized earlier are beginning to fall apart and the tiny little section, almost an afterthought, called miscellaneous is beginning to grow. There are many more tiny fragments out there that are managing to co-exist nice and sweet.

Fragments are not new. We have been talking about media fragmentation for a while now. Exploding choices are making it difficult, even impossible, for traditional yardsticks of measurement like GRPs to be applied accurately.

Another problem with fragmentation is that when an agency has a big idea and needs to execute it across multiple channels, many a times these ideas refuse to scale. More often than not, what is spreading across touch points are the style and tone of the execution and not the so called big idea. This is only one of the smaller problems.

New thinking by people like Mark Earls points out that the way we looked at how people interpreted communication and made their choices may not be as transparent as it seems. Very often people made a switch once and then went back and did their own thing. Here is a video where Mark and Duncan Watts of Yahoo Social Research speak at the recent Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) word of mouth seminar.

Other thinkers, notably John Grant, have spoken about Brand Molecules and the new way of building brands. Gareth Kay, from whose post we stole most of the thoughts for this story, writes here “Doing the same thing at every point of contact will bore people. And success does not come through being boring. Our focus on doing one thing makes marketing communication more often than not one of the most boring forms of culture there is today.”

Which brings us to this little innovation that makes WellsFargo continue to be one of America’s most innovative banks. They have just launched VSafe. A secure online safe deposit box where you can store your valuable documents. At $185 a year for a 6GB account, it’s an expensive way store stuff, when you can do it for free on a free email account. Imagine the small talk that would have erupted in most conference rooms when an idea like this came up. But it is getting talked about all over.

Going back to Gareth’s story once again. Place a lot of small bets, he says, see which seem to be gaining traction and then scale up. We need to act like a banker investing in the futures market, making many small bets, rather putting all our monies behind one spectacular idea we think will work.

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