What’s the big idea?

It’s an amazing time to be a marketer.

Technology has enabled us to know more about who we want to sell to than ever before, it has lowered the cost of producing creative work and it constantly offers new ways to reach a customer.

The advances in marketing and communications technology make it ever more important that whatever message you send out in the the world on behalf of your brand has an idea behind it — a concept, a thought that the consumer can “get” that will make your brand stronger or will help you sell more product.

Without a real idea, your marketing is at best parlor trick, something to be quickly forgotten when “the next thing” comes along. At worst, it’s ignored.

I don’t see a lot of ideas (big or small) in B2C brands and older brands who are “going digital.”

B2C brands seem to feel that an innovation in the sales or delivery mechanism is what makes a brand. In reality, they have momentary awareness followed by a price- or convenience-driven transaction. They haven’t created a point of differentiation or a foundation for loyalty, and are wide open to the next competitor stealing their business. Their business becomes on that focused on constant, efficiency-driven messages to remind a customer that the brand even exists.

More entertaining are the established brands that are “going digital.” These are the brands moving all their spending from traditional media into digital and experimental marketing platforms, desperately hoping for a winning innovation. As a marketer, these feel like attempts by marketing directors to reposition themselves for their next job. After all, the brand looks like a grandparent suddenly trying to look younger by listening to Daft Punk and wearing different clothes.

The best marketing is simple.

- Create a smart, simple and inspiring brief that solves a business problem.

- Use that brief to develop an idea that’s true to what your brand is.

- Customize that message for the best media channels, whether they’re digital or traditional.

- Rinse and repeat.

The best campaigns out today, Volkswagen’s “In the Darkness We Found Light” and Nike’s global women’s football, are both just that…big ideas, made to work on the best medium possible.