“The idea to have an idea is often more important than the idea itself” is favorite piece of advice I received as a kid in the business.
The book I just finished, Bob Gilbreath’s Marketing with Meaning, reminds me of this quote. Mr. Gilbreath, chief marketing strategist at Bridge Worldwide, dispenses lots of good advice and some spectacular case studies in the book’s pages, but the “idea to have the idea” in Marketing with Meaning is the call to arms that we need to stop broadcasting one-way messaging at consumers. The idea here is that we all must do the hard, thoughtful work upfront soasto uncover rich consumer insights that will drive meaningful customer response. Everyone talks about customer touch points today. Mr. Gilbreath talks about TOUCHING customers.
Let’s face it, everyone want ads, websites, direct response and promotions with meaning, but in reality we often don’t deliver. Creating marketing with meaning is hard work. This book is the trailmap. I was especially smitten by Mr. Gilbreath’s suggestion that organizations team up on marketing problems, using people from different disciplines and backgrounds. Serendipity is very freeing. (And don’t include people who report to one another, he suggests.)
Mr. Gilbreath also suggests new ways to measure marketing success. They 3 legs of the stool are engagement (Did the consumer do something?), meaning (Did the communication provide positive value?) and marketing (Did a sale or predisposition to sale result?). Many marketers care only about sales, but the two additional measures show a refreshing sensitivity toward the consumer.
The other thing I liked about this book is that it elevates the idea and recognizes its roll in delivering sales. Many agencies have tried to charge for their ideas rather than their time hoping to increase revenue upside. I suspect Mr. Gilbreath’s process and art + science approach gets us one step closer. And, as he says in his closing pages, all practitioners of marketing, selling and advertising long for the day when we move up the respectability ladder and put some distance between ourselves and lawyers and politicians. That, too, is an idea. Peace!