The Idea vs The Execution

Good ideas never seem to be in short supply. Granted, bad ideas are every bit as prevalent – however, almost anyone can hit on a good idea of some sort in their professional lifetime. Great ideas are rare. Great ideas can change fortunes, alter futures and make history. The execution of ideas, whether it be in business or in life, is also key to success. Having a reputation of excellent execution can make careers and build businesses. In marketing and advertising, both are integral to a complete and effective campaign. They each require large amounts of attention and commitment to detail and often one is overlooked for want of the other. So, for arguments sake, we shall pit them head to head in a which-is-more-important battle-royale!

The Idea is more important…

Without the right idea, solid execution is nothing more than busy work. Placing ads, sending emails, printing mailers, buying billboards – when disparate and lacking the foundation of a great idea, accomplish nothing.  The world is already overrun with this type of advertising! The next time you drive along a US highway, try to remember the billboards you passed and the radio ads you heard, once you arrive at your destination. How many of them stood out? How much do you remember? Chances are your mind automatically filtered it all out as white noise. Great ideas have impact; and that impact sticks in your memory. If you have to choose only one, a great idea ties together messy execution. It doesn’t matter how, where or what medium you use to deliver your message, as long as it sticks to that great idea.

Example: Subway “Eat Fresh”    A great idea – showing the gross-out elements of non-subway food. Though the execution may not be great (who wants to look at yucky grease and disgusting food in an ad designed to make you want to buy food?)

The Execution is more important…

Weak ideas can convey a marketing message successfully when paired with precise, well-informed execution. One of the key tenants of marketing is the adage, “Get the right message, to the right person, at the right time.” to create and retain customers. While great ideas, quality production and ‘cool’ designs may stick out in your memory – they accomplish nothing if you don’t remember what the ‘cool’ design was supposed to be selling you. Effective marketing doesn’t need to be too clever for it’s own good as long as it offers a well-defined value proposition, in other words “this is why what I’m offering you is worth what you would pay for it.” Great ideas make memories, sure. Effective execution makes money!

Example: New Egg “Take it from a Geek”    Brilliant execution of a simple idea – getting informed advice from someone who knows what they’re talking about. This is paired with the delivery of online ratings via that are available for every product.

The conclusion…

What are your thoughts? Comment below to share your opinion (no fair saying “both are winners”, this isn’t little league baseball).

  • timothycd

    My opinion is that any idea, no matter how good or bad can be effective if executed correctly. Thus EXECUTION is the winner. I can not count the many times I have had great ideas only to see them fall apart on the execution (specifically with a client involved). It’s the execution of an idea that gets the award, not the idea with the crapy execution.

    • jakec11

      Great point with the client involvement sometimes muddying the execution – I think that can be applied to project teams in general, when they aren’t all on the same page.

  • You can’t sell a sketch on a napkin to the public…Has has to be executed first. That simple.

    • jakec11

      Very true. However, to play devils advocate – generally speaking you can’t sell a well executed drawing of a line (a poor idea) either.

  • jakec11

    I’m curious, has anyone seen an ad recently that they would consider a failure of idea? Or a failure of execution?

    • timothycd

      So I have a few commercials in mind. But when I try and bring up a link to a video of them, I’m struggling to remember their name. Fail?

      • timothycd

        I have found the commercial:

        This commercial is a FAIL on both execution and idea, thus making it a terriable advertisment all around.

        • jakec11

          That ad was… dare I say “Terrific”? Haha