Ideas: Scalability Versus Creativity
In a recent article entitled, “China, India Offer Marketers Opportunities for Scalable Ideas,” AdAge touched upon the scalability of ideas and how in certain situations, ideas that scale should come first, followed by creativity. Using China and India as examples of areas where scalability are keys to a successful marketing strategy, the article points out that in markets like Western Europe and North America, “digital technology is often ahead of other regions, and the consumer engages with the online medium at a deeper level.” Further, the article goes on to say that “ideas that ‘wow’ you and break through the clutter in a big way are more successful” in those regions. Conversely, AdAge notes that marketing campaigns focused in areas like China and India need to be focused more on the scalability side and not necessarily on the creativity. While the ‘wow’ factor is great to have, in regions where population growth continues to climb, being able to develop ideas and strategies that scale means that you have the potential to reach every single person, which in these regions means millions of people.
You Aren’t Sacrificing Creativity
When you tell a marketer that they need to create an idea that is scalable, one of the mistakes that some will make is to assume that they have to sacrifice creativity in exchange for scalability. While there are obvious arguments that will lend themselves to agree that creativity is being sacrificed, we can take this in another direction and say that creativity is in fact essential in making an idea scalable.
For example, Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel is a widely considered to be a testament to his creativity. Along the same lines, Henry Ford is considered to have been creative because of how he changed the way that cars were produced. While the two focused on completely different things, Michelangelo creating masterpieces and Ford on making things more efficient, creativity was an essential part to their success.
How To Create Scalable Ideas
1. Understand your target market
One of the most fundamental rules in any project is to understand the target market. Creating a product or providing a service to a market that doesn’t want or need it is a waste of time. Taking the time to understand everything about your target market will and should dictate how you develop ideas and strategies. For example, AdAge mentions how the New Zealand Tourism group was successful with marketing in China because they understood that a majority of their target market used media platforms and video sharing sites thus leading them to develop a short video campaign.
2. Distribution strategy
When we refer to ideas being scalable, we refer to the ability of an idea to be shared and spread. It’s important that when developing an idea whose sole purpose is to spread, as was the case with the New Zealand Tourism group, that you analyze the current distribution strategies for your target market. For example, if your goal is to reach 18-24 year old college students, developing an idea that focuses on brick and mortar promotions is likely to yield poor results as compared to a campaign that has been developed around the Facebook platform as its main distribution network.
3. Want vs. Need
If you look at the way that a consumer makes a decision, one of the biggest factors that determine whether or not they will buy something is if they need it versus if they want it. For example: you need food and you want a new shirt. Of the two, you are more likely to buy food before you buy a new shirt. With that in mind, when it comes an idea, focusing on why someone needs it or needs to believe the message rather than why they should want it increases the likelihood that they will connect with it.
Ultimately, the success of an idea involves the right amount creativity along with the ability to scale and connect with its target. Just how certain ideas were able to spread in areas like China and India because they were creative enough to interest the population, yet easy enough to spread, ideas that work in one part of the world, may not necessarily work in another.
Mary Kay Cosmetics founder, Mary Kay said it best when she said:
A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one