About the "Big Idea" and Other Gobbledegook

After presenting a complex direct marketing proposal,  a neophyte direct marketing client asked the perennial question "What Is Your Big Idea?"

 I gave my typical response, "Direct marketing relies upon a set of discovery processes including research, testing and analytics. It is out of this discipline that big ideas emerge."

BigIdeaXSmall.jpgAnother answer is that there is no big idea, but rather a multitude of good ideas expertly executed.

In truth, there are definitely big ideas in direct marketing. But the question they are really asking is "What is your magic bullet?" Many company leaders expect direct marketers (or any marketer) to pull rabbits out of their hats to solve problems in a few weeks that took years to develop in the first place.

It's as if every great achievement relies on a single, new idea that no one has ever thought of before.

But I think Solomon said it right thousands of years ago in Ecclesiastes:
"What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun."

So there are really no new, big ideas floating around out there. It's the same answer to the same question disguised as a new revelation.

Here are a few examples going from old to new.

-Call to action = lead generation = squeeze page
-Converting leads to customers and customers to repeat buyers = Database marketing = Customer Relationship Management = Audience cultivation
-Market segmentation = Recency, Frequency, Monetary selection = Customer profiling = Behavior marketing
-Personalized response form = Landing page = Micro site
-Direct response = direct marketing = one-to-one marketing = selling one person one at a time

What we have here are the same ideas morphing into different terms or more sophisticated implementation. But the principles or big ideas remain constant.

I am skeptical about those who claim something new when it is simply the same idea more expertly executed.

Become expert first at the principles of direct marketing, then figure out creative new ways to implement them. Those big ideas already exist. It's now a matter of expanding those big ideas using today's more capable tools such as email, online marketing, behavioral marketing and deep analytics.

Can you think of anything really new that is not already driven by a marketing concept that has existed for years? If so, I would love to hear it and discuss it in this blog.

Posted on June 11, 2008 and filed under Direct Marketing Strategy.