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The Power Of “Alpha Ideas” In Digital Marketing

The Power Of “Alpha Ideas” In Digital Marketing

Alexander Hamilton once said that if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. I have found that this truth has new meaning in, of all places, digital marketing.

Particularly with the continual evolution of contextual search such as Siri, Wolfram Alpha and Goggle’s Hummingbird – the question of what you stand for becomes more and more important. What you stand for eventually becomes something I like to call your “alpha idea” and it becomes central to how and why customers know your brand.

Take, for instance, my experience with Penguin Brand® Dry Ice. Of all of the products I’ve worked with, dry ice wasn’t exactly the one that engendered the most passion or, for that matter, consumer interest. In creating a digital strategy for the brand however, I found an amazing potential for not just engagement but actual sales by hooking everything in the campaign into a single, central idea.

The alpha idea for Penguin started by answering the question; “what do people want to know about dry ice?” Sure, there were plenty of questions about just how safe dry ice is and how long it lasts but one of the most frequent questions I found through online conversation was “where do I buy dry ice?”

At the time, there were a couple of sites that listed potential dry ice retailers but none of them was designed for consumers. Furthermore, none of them tried to form a relationship with the consumer once they had their question asked and answered.

Enter the alpha idea…Dry Ice Ideas, in particular. Dry Ice Ideas was a basic WordPress blog with weekly tips on how to use dry ice in new and interesting ways. It also answered the frequently asked questions like “how long does dry ice last?” and “how do I pack dry ice for shipping?”

Most importantly, we a took an off-the-shelf store location application, paid the developer to make some custom tweaks and turned it into the most powerful dry ice retail locator on the web. Now, when you ask the question “where do I buy dry ice?” on Twitter, on Google, or in message boards you will almost always bump into this site. This is the power of an alpha idea; it transcends platform and channel to be where the consumer needs it, when they need it.

The site was not sophisticated and, in fact, it’s been a few years since I’ve worked with the brand so don’t take any credit for the current state of the site. However, by building the entire digital footprint around a single, powerful idea…by making sure to clearly and descriptively answer a single important question…we established Penguin Brand® Dry Ice as a brand that stood for something.

Marketers need to learn that it’s not about being everything to everybody.

Success is about answering a very specific question so you become hyper-relevant to the right people at the right time. If you don’t become someone’s favorite digital brand, so what? If you can be there for the moment of purchase, the moment that the consumer actually needs you, they will repay you in spades.

Alexander Hamilton understood the power of alpha ideas. He knew that if they didn’t wrap his rallying cry around a single, understandable idea, no one would ever be influenced by his words. His alpha idea helped spark a revolution and so too can they with your brand, if you dive deep enough into what your customers want.

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1 Comment

  • Drew Hawkins

    The best strategies start not with knowing the answers but asking the right questions. Cool approach with dry ice, very smart.

    December 10, 2013 at 9:37 am Reply
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