The Big Idea Is Dead

The “Big Idea” in marketing made sense years ago when the internet wasn’t here. It was wise advice when it came to writing a newspaper ad for example. If an ad said, “we have the best location, best service, best prices and best products,” chances are the ad isn’t going to be effective because the ad is throwing too big of a net and no one is going to believe it – no one is that good. So brands would create a “big idea” to help customers understand and remember as fast as possible for example, “our brand is the cheapest.” Thats big, it resonates with the those who want the cheapest and it has the ability to chisel a spot into the audience’s mind. Simple. Big. Believable (maybe).

Since the newspaper has such big reach, hundreds  of thousands of people would see the ad but only 5%, or less of them would really care deeply about finding the cheapest brand. So a brand effectively wastes money advertising to 95% of the people who don’t use cheapest as their main filter for making buying decisions but instead care about best quality, reliability, customer service, no-hassle buying, convenience, brand image, and a whole host of who knows what. But that’s OK because usually that 5% or less was enough to make it worth it.

So back then you advertised to as many people as possible, pitching one idea that doesn’t apply to everyone but still bland enough to cast the biggest net possible, hoping that your message does reach the people that you are intending it for. Today people are much better at avoiding ads they don’t want to see and are less of a mass and more a mass of niches.

Had the ability to target and measure the effectiveness of your media in real time existed back then, I doubt the “big idea” would  have ever been created. Back then you couldn’t accurately or affordabley target males 18-21 with HHI of $80,000 +, who like japanimation and Nine Inch Nails. That audience would have been too hard and expensive to find and wouldn’t have been big enough give a return on investment to justify the effort.

Not anymore.

Want to target stay at home moms, age 30 – 45, HHI $100,000, who are green conscience and like scrapbooking? OK. Why not choose the 10 most ideal micro-demographics and tailor your media just for them? They will find it super relevant and have a much better chance of connecting with the brand and spreading it to others.

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