I’ve been reading about the creation/formalization of Account Planning as a discipline in ad agencies back in the Mad Men days of the late 60s/early 70s. It arose because of the prevalence and easy access to data being provided by broadcast media. All that data created a problem: how might we best apply our knowledge about advertising effectiveness to future campaigns? Account planning took all that data, made sense of it, found the key insights, and came up with The Big Idea to pitch to Account Management, Creative, and the Client.

Today is very similar. Data is everywhere in digital advertising. Google analytics, Moz keyword rankings, Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics. And it begs the same question: how might we best apply our knowledge about digital advertising effectiveness to future campaigns? And I don’t think that traditional Account Planning is going to cut it. And SEOs and digital marketers often don’t have the chops to develop the insights needed for The Big Idea. So, we’re left with Big Ideas developed around traditional branding and advertising techniques that have been shoehorned into a digital medium, like Cinderella’s chubby stepsister shoving her piggly wigglys into a glass slipper.

A lot of times we don’t need a singular Big Idea. We need marginal and continual adaptations. I’m not saying The Big Idea is dead. I’m suggesting that The Big Idea shouldn’t be some statue we construct and then sit back and admire. The Big Idea needs to be a living thing that we launch, watch, and continue to mold.

The Big Idea is dead. Long live The Big Idea.