Too often in the marketing profession our time is consumed by looking for the next silver bullet solution to the marketing challenges we face when one of the best tools we have is one that is close by and often overlooked. Our own ideas.
Many organizations have not only been faced with the impacts of an economic recession, but their focus on this issue has resulted in a recession of ideas. Why are ideas important? They are critical because it is the idea that fuels the marketing strategies we seek to develop and execute. Actions always start at the conceptual level, the place where ideas lurk. Too often our agenda is filled with ‘must do’ and ‘gotta get done’ tasks, but when was the last time you put some time aside just to think? Better yet, when was the last time your organization had a moment to think?
Many executives believe that the fuel that drives marketing strategies is money, which certainly does help. But the real catalyst is ideas. Have you ever been in a room with other people and all of a sudden someone says something and everyone stops – because at that moment a great idea transcends whatever was going on? The power of a great concept cannot be overestimated.
In fact, when you really consider it, money follows a good idea. To really see this principle at work one has to look no further than to venture capitalists. Really good ideas get funded, though this is not to say that all of them are executed well. But well thought out ideas tend to attract support. Innovative ideas that are designed to increase revenues always seem to generate funding.
What is a great idea? Great ideas share at least one of three objectives; a great idea will improve efficiency, provide for greater effectiveness or innovate in products (and services) or processes. Let’s take them one at a time:
· Improved Efficiency - How many organizations in the travel, tourism and recreation industries have participated in cooperative marketing programs? If you have, you’ve succeeded in improving your efficiency. Your advertising dollars go further when they are shared with other partners, thus improving your reach per dollar spent, and hence your efficiency.
· Greater Effectiveness – How many times have you improved the effectiveness of programs or services your organization provides? Or better yet when was the last time you improved the effectiveness of programs you offer? A great idea is one that improves how you provide better services or products to your customers.
· Innovation in Products (Services) or Processes -Think about how the Internet has provided not only innovation in online products or services but also the purchasing process. How easy is it now to purchase a plane ticket online at Southwest or a cd on Amazon. Think about how the Internet has changed the buying process by providing customers a place to find information on products and services. Look at the processes you have in place and see if you can develop ideas that will better help you fulfill your customer’s needs (as well as achieve your marketing objectives).
As you can see it’s not really necessary to look for the latest management or marketing fad. You just need to ask yourself “How can I bring better ideas into my organization?” The great thing is it doesn’t always have to be a home run idea. Continuous improvement will do the trick. Just be consistent. Your best marketing tool is without a doubt the one between your ears.