How Do You Know If You Have A Good Marketing Idea?

You don’t. All the research in the world will not tell you if its good or not. As soon as a good idea is given to the public to see it can quickly become a bad idea. The Apple 1984 commercial aired in 1984 during the super bowl and subsequently won many awards and became a signature representation of Apple Computers. At the next super bowl, Apple launched it’s next commercial, “Lemmings,” which turned out to be a huge failure that no one remembers. I’m sure everyone though it was a great idea just like they thought 1984 would be, but it took the implementation of the idea to find out. (It’s funny to see how there is no attribution to who made the commercial on the Lemmings Wikipedia page yet on the 1984 Wikipedia page, it only takes as long as the second sentence to find out who contributed to its creation.)

Great ideas and bad ideas are only great or bad in retrospect. Ideas when they are first conceived are neither, it takes implementation to decide.  So, the only way to know if your marketing idea is a good one is for people to see it. Yet the majority of advertising is subjected to hours of research, focus groups and reviews before anyone see it. That’s because there is a huge amount of uncertainty and money on the line.

The book The Lean Startup explains how startup business should treat uncertainty which I think can also be applied to dealing with the uncertainty of marketing: by advocating the creation of rapid prototypes designed to test market assumptions, and using customer feedback to evolve ideas much faster than via more traditional product development practices. I think the internet makes this a possibility for today’s advertisers. Create a prototype ad and measure its effectiveness on the web to specific targets before launching it more broadly.

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