Every once in a while a big idea hits you, usually when you least expect it: standing in line at 7-11, at the top of your swing on the 18th hole (a drive over water!), maybe even on a con-call. It's pretty cool. At first you think, "This could change mankind!" and then reality sets in and you start to think about the challenges, the impracticalities, how hard it will be and most of those great ideas fizzle out and creep slowly back to where they came from—probably underneath where the coffee stands at 7-11, where all the spills pool. Well, I'm here to tell you that while those big ideas are scary, and they do keep you up at night, they can also be the best thing that ever happened to you. How do I know? Because I had one…
A big idea can launch a company, a product, a brand. It can work or not. Big ideas are risky, so they are not for the faint-hearted. And the person behind the big idea is either the hero or the villain of the story.
My challenge was to brand Avnet's online offering, Avnet Express, as a distinct value-proposition away from the long-standing Avnet parent (and Avnet Electronics Marketing) brand. The big idea was to find, expose and celebrate electronics innovation within the Americas. BIG IDEA! Tactically, we needed a hook, and the idea started to germinate—a Chevrolet Volt, an innovative car itself, being driven around the U.S. by a team uncovering electronics innovation, writing about it, blogging about it, with videos and promotion of that innovation with the added promise that "you too, Mr. Customer, can also innovate, and Avnet can help you to do just that."
We knew we could not do it alone, we needed a partner, someone who was well known in the industry, trusted, relied upon and had the vehicles (no pun intended) to distribute the message to our target audiences. We decided that UBM, specifically their Create Marketing Services Group, was the right partner. Brian Fuller would be the driver/writer/blogger and discoverer of innovation, along with his partner in crime – a cherry red Chevrolet Volt! Locked together for a year, this dynamic duo covered North America, discovering innovation, exposing that innovation and tying Avnet Express to that innovation. The results were astonishing: Web traffic and awareness saw significant increases. Customer engagement grew; we discovered new prospects in places we were not looking. We created a wealth of content, won some awards and sold more stuff!
So what did I learn? Be flexible, be passionate, be committed, give back wherever you can (to local communities, to charities, to our customers and suppliers) and have fun!
We all have big ideas —don't be afraid —unleash them! We work in a big industry that drives our economy, we work for companies looking for big ideas themselves. I encourage you to do something for the betterment of your career, your company and the industry.
Ian Basey is the vice president of marketing at Avnet. Ian's blog was written for Create, UBM Tech's new marketing services group. Find Create case studies, testimonials and portfolio of work at createmarketingservices.com.