BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) and Digital Marketing

Are you thinking too small?

Marketers tend not to think small. But sometimes management does, especially when it comes to digital marketing. Some examples of thinking small include:

  • Planning a social program believing social media is freedigital marketing goals need to be big
  • Suggesting that hiring interns will get the job done
  • Ignoring email as a key platform, thinking that everything must be “social” or else
  • Creating a SEO program based on a few keywords you know from gut instinct rather than using comprehensive research

Lots of organizations are still on the fence about digital marketing and are wasting their time and their people’s time with half baked tests that are based on the whims of a senior leader. What some industry leading marketers have recognized is that digital marketing done right presents a transformative opportunity to go BIG.

Good reasons why organizations are going BIG

There are two fundamental insights about consumers and digital media that every leader and marketer should know:

  1. Consumers have made a permanent shift in their media consumption (at home and at work) toward digital, a trend that will only continue.
  2. Digital marketing plays by a different set of rules: more frequency, more engagement, more diversity, and zero barriers to entry.

Consider this fact: consumers spend 28% of their media usage time on the Internet (versus 31% on TV) yet less than 15% of advertising is spent on the Internet (according to venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins).

Of course, big changes create an opportunity for even bigger achievements.

A few examples of Going BIG with digital marketing

  • How do you build a world-class brand in under two years out of your garage? Enter Orabrush, a mouth brush designed specifically to clean the tongue and thereby clean your breath. First, the company created dozens of irreverent, poignant videos that entertained and explained the benefits of their product. The result was millions of views and many, many online orders. But, as a product sold in grocery/drug store, gaining distribution into large retailers remained elusive. So, Orabrush created $28 worth of advertising on Facebook, geo-targeted to Bentonville, Arkansas which just happens to be the world headquarters of Walmart. The ad copy included the following: “Walmart employees have bad breath.” The result was an order for over 700,000 plus brushes.
  • Building a loyal database that will repeat your business because you own a direct connection. We all know that renting is extraordinarily expensive, especially when you truly have the means to own. So, imagine being a multi-billion company in massive competition for advertising and market share with one chief competitor not to mention a host of smaller competitors. That’s the situation that Coke found itself in back in 2005. Each year, Coke and Pepsi battled for ad spend and ad creativity. But the leaders at Coke realized something. Why rent or pay for media, essentially renting the attention of consumers? So, they built a plan around a massive loyalty program called MyCokeRewards, introduced in 2006. The result is that dozens of millions of consumers now participate, receiving email and social media messages from Coke that Coke itself owns. Coke can measure the specific loyalty from its consumers and send offers to targeted buyers and maintain a personal one-to-one relationship with each loyalty member. The program has been so successful that the company has extended the program to many other brands including Diet Coke, Sprite, and Dasani among others. Oh, and by the way, it’s the #1 visited consumer packaged goods website in the world.
  • Launching a new car model without the help of TV or traditional media. Car launches are famous for out of control media budgets followed by massive incentives to push the sales through the dealers. In 2009, Ford decided to go big with a social and digital media launch of the Ford Fiesta. The Ford Fiesta Movement was created as a grassroots social media campaign to promote the new Fiesta by placing Fiestas in the hands of 100 social “agents” and having them promote Ford’s new vehicle through Twitter, blogs, video, and events, all without spending a dollar on traditional media. Each month, the agents would use their Fiestas to complete missions ranging from delivering for Meals On Wheels, taking Harry And David treats to the National Guard, or going on a random adventure to wrestle alligators. All of these stories were documented on YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter unedited by Ford. In six months, Ford received 4.3 million YouTube views, 500,000+ Flickr views, 3 million+ Twitter impression, and 50,000 interested potential customers, 97% of which did not currently own a Ford. And, in the initial six day of sales, Ford sold 10,000 units. While Ford went small in terms of budget it went big in imagination and results.

Go BIG or go home with Big Hairy Audacious Goals

BHAG is a framework you can use for going big with digital marketing. Author Jim Collins coined Big Hair Audacious Goal or BHAG (bee-hag) to indicate a meaningful, organizational changing goal that gives direction and strategic advantage for years to come. Applied to digital marketing, a BHAG requires that you look at the trends of today and envision your industry years into the future. You then have to make a decision to create and aim for a vision of what’s possible. The key is not in making every possible change all at once. It’s about imagining the possibilities and making the strategic shifts one step at a time.

Media is becoming radically more personable, mobile, and social. There’s no barrier to entry with digital marketing which means your competitors and new competitors present grave new threats. However, with BHAGs on your side, you can lead your organization to the forefront. How is your industry changing and what are your BHAGs that can change the world?