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OPINION29 June 2011

No silver bullet

Why do marketers always look for a single silver bullet to solve complex marketing problems?

I recently had a great conversation with the MD of an FMCG company about their vain pursuit of a marketing silver bullet ( or big idea ) for a brand – and his acceptance that perhaps the pursuit itself was the wrong way of thinking about how to improve the brands’ position.

The discussion came up in the context of brand advocacy and how to get people recommending your brand. We are big proponents of the ‘thousand fires’ concept of trying to get as many opportunities as possible for your brand to be mentioned positively instead of relying on the one great idea that will do everything.

The idea of a ‘silver bullet’ comes out of a media world where only TV advertising could carry a brand and ads required a focus on one key thought to create genuine impact. The idea was therefore only applicable in a constrained world. We now live in an unconstrained world and so can free ourselves of this thinking.

So here’s to a multi-faceted and multi-layered world where lots of good ideas are much better than looking for, and failing to find, the big one.

@RESEARCH LIVE

3 Comments

5 years ago

Maybe the search for a silver bullet is fruitless. But the need for a sliver thread to link 'the thousand fires' in some way seems obvious.....

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5 years ago

Yes, there's plenty of evidence (IPA for example) that a degree of integration/consistency still counts for something. And while I agree that you can over-rely on the big idea (& waste too much resource & time looking for it), if you did manage to unearth one it can still be mightily effective (again IPA confirms). It can sometimes be a lot easier to light a few big fires than lots of little ones.

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5 years ago

Love the idea of a silver thread instead of bullet. I do think people get way to distracted looking for something big and new in markets that are old and well explored. This leaves them missing lots of good, smaller ideas that can work very effectively for a brand.

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