Marketing Over Coffee: Pope, Retargeting, Facebook Page Reach

On this week’s Marketing Over Coffee, hear what we have to say about Facebook Page reach, why you’re competing against the Pope, and much more:

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How to create a big marketing idea

In yesterday’s post, you and I looked at how to tell if a big marketing idea made any sense by deconstructing it into actionable items. Today, let’s do the reverse and look at making a big marketing idea. Logically, if we judge an idea’s worth by the manual it comes with, in terms of operationalization, then in order to make an idea worthwhile, we should start with what we already know how to do.

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Look at your marketing toolkit. Look at all of the tools in it, all of the frameworks you know, all of the ideas you trust and believe in. What do you know? What can you do? Of the tools, tactics, and frameworks you have in your toolkit, what do each of them have as inputs and outputs?

Once you know what tools you have in your arsenal and what they can do, you can start to gather them together. Look for common inputs and common outputs. For example, social media has content as an input and website visitors as an output. Does anything else share those inputs or outputs? SEO certainly does – SEO takes content as an input and website visitors as an output. Thus, creating a strategy where there’s significant overlap between social media and SEO is a logical conclusion to reach.

You can take any process and put the ideas together to form a bigger idea. For example, I write blog posts on a regular basis. If a blog post does especially well, I flag it to be part of something bigger, maybe turn it into a webinar. If that webinar does well, then I take the webinar and turn it into an eBook. If the eBook does well, I turn it into a public speaking presentation. Suddenly a series of individual tactics is sewn together into a coherent strategy, something that can be turned into a “Big Idea” – in this case, something I call “content upcycling“. Now it’s a bigger idea.

The great advantage of creating bigger strategies and ideas like this out of tactics and operations is that by default, it “comes with the manual” because you already know how to execute on every step of the strategy. You automatically know it’s valid because you’ve sewn it together from existing valid, working parts. If you want it to be a “secret sauce”, you don’t have to disclose every portion of it, but you can share enough of the details so that other people can get at least some of the results you achieve from your particular recipe.


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How to assess a big marketing idea

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See if this sounds familiar: marketing thought leader X publishes a new paper with a grand Big Idea, complete with fancy infographic and a chart or framework that is both dazzlingly complex and slightly intimidating. Whether you like said thought leader or not, you wonder whether their Big Idea is actually worth pursuing, or whether it’s just a bunch of hot air, and pursuing it would be a waste of time and resources.

I’ve been in that situation plenty of times over the years. I’ve seen lots of Big Ideas, lots of fancy frameworks, lots of infographics whose design budget probably eclipsed some peoples’ annual income. To figure out what’s the real deal and what’s BS, I borrowed an idea from the martial arts.

In the martial arts tradition I practice, we have lots of Big Ideas called kata. Loosely translated from Japanese, the word means form or routine, in the sense of something you practice. Each one is a Big Idea, how to win in a certain way under a specific set of adverse circumstances.

My teacher, Mark Davis of the Boston Martial Arts Center, taught us that to learn and master a kata, you have to break it apart and study each of the pieces. How does a wrist lock in the middle of Batsu Gi kata work outside of those particular circumstances? Can you make it work versus a punch? A knife? You operationalize each piece of the kata until you know how it works; when you put it back together, you truly understand it.

This methodology, which has served me well for over two decades, is one you can use for evaluating any thought leader’s Big Idea. If you read about some new framework or concept, see if you can break it apart into operational pieces. See if you can transform the Big Idea into little things that you can implement. If you can, then you know the Big Idea has wheels – it’s something that can be tested, evaluated in components, and used to make change in your business at both tactical and strategic levels.

If you try to take apart a Big Idea and find that there’s little or nothing you can operationally implement, then you know the Big Idea is either a complete mismatch for your organization, or it might be full of hot air entirely. Try it with any of the Big Ideas of the day and see if you can turn them into Little Things To Do!


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