You know all these shows and movies that are super popular right now with castles and invading armies and catapults and archers? Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Vikings... You'll notice any time a castle or fortress is invaded, the ones doing the invading have the burden of strategy and creativity.

How do we get through the walls?


That's the biggest question. Once you're through, you've got a chance. If you can't penetrate the outer wall of the fortress, you're done.

I think marketing is kinda like that. Moving an audience to make a decision when they have a lot of other options at their disposal is like breaking through the outer wall. This is just the age old "big idea" made famous by Ogilvy. It's kinda what turns natural artists and writers into ad people. The validity of the big idea has been debated ad nauseum, but we're believers in it. Big ones. No exceptions.

Whether it be the rise of digital and its targeting capabilities or simply the conservatism of certain industries, the big idea tends to hide under the covers unless it's a new energy drink campaign. So here's the big mistake I think we're making: we line up 100 of our best archers and tell them to fire away. We figure, if I shoot 100 arrows at the wall, one of them is bound to get through.

Maybe it'll be my banner ad or my P&I billboard or my social media post that will get shared a whole bunch. But as long as I fire a bunch of arrows (which means my strategy deck is super thick), something is going to get through.

I propose we spend more time figuring out how to get through the wall. Maybe we find an area of the wall that's softer than the rest. Maybe we go under, over. Maybe we get super creative and build a trojan horse and go straight through.

In our current circumstances, devaluing the big idea leads to one more spot with black and white stills laid over a piano track leading with "In these uncertain times..." That wall is still firmly in place.

The point is this: the big idea gets us in. It brings our audience to the table. It softens their defenses to even listen to our value statements and benefits. They've got options. Your competitors probably have eerily similar sounding value statements. Your prospects are, more than likely, very aware that you plan to save them money, make their lives easier, etc. They will absolutely need to know what your brand promises are and how you plan to follow through. Those messages are valid and drive our prospects down the funnel. But let's get them in the top first.

So hold onto your arrows and archers. You'll need all of them. But do them a favor and help get them through the wall first. Then you've got a fighting chance.