It might appear ironical to call marketing an act of buying ideas since marketing, at least traditionally, refers to the process of selling your ideas — for, or not for, money being a different case.
What I believe marketing does, is it buys ideas. The trap that a marketer wants to set for her audience is incomplete without the marketer having herself having fallen into it. Now, the categories of this trap is dual here: A trap she herself believes in so much; the other one, born out a sense of smartness and belief that her audience can be fooled into falling into her furbished trap. Both, however, involves a firm faith in one’s understanding of her audience’s mind.
A marketer’s mind plays games with everyone just like with her own self. It believes and / or make believes. And in this world of belief/make belief lies the future of an idea. Whether it can be sold or not is decided there itself. The marketer has to be complicit with the audience in buying the idea as well as complicit with her own self in distancing herself from the audience silently. The moment it is done, she is ready to pronounce the final judgement on whether the idea will hold weight.
Now the tension lies in the fact that the greatest of brands have, at some point of time, failed to understand their audiences — Apple, Sony, Walmart, Starbucks, McDonalds; and there are numerous examples of failed campaigns by the most magical marketing agencies — Ogilvy failed Kurl-On Matresses; Rogue failed Cadillac. The generic excuse of the filtration process failing is a sham. Nothing failed. They all believed in it.
So can we say for sure whether a marketer can successfully execute all campaigns? Never. Audience, however small or big, is a homogenous mix of endless emotions and feelings — all of which change every minute, and not with respect to the other, but independent of it. An Einstein cannot calculate the state of that mix at a given point of time with a formula and a theorist cannot theorise on how it behaves. It is a flux that, at the time of a failed campaign, was in a state unfavourable to the marketing idea thrown upon it by the brand or the agency at the time of its failure.
What works positively for most famous marketing agencies is their clientele’s faith in their history of wonderful campaigns and what works against smaller agencies is the lack of those wonderful campaigns. What is left behind and ignored in both cases, is their history of failed campaigns because everyone realises that marketing is a continuous experiment. No one is a great marketer. It’s just that the developed intuition of one works much better than the experience of the other.
So, to all the marketers, keep experimenting like it’s your day 1 — at least until your stars change. Because you never know when will your idea really work; or I should say, when and when and when will your idea work. The experiment will fail one day. It will be successful the other day. The only solution is to hire an astrologer to pick those good days 😉