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In marketing and PR we spend a lot of time trying to come up with “original” and/or “great” ideas.

The quest for these Holy Grails is especially prevalent on the creative side, but also permeates other less artistic subfields of our little world.

“Original” and/or “great” are pretty tough. Sometimes they happen. DaVinci had some “original” ideas. The launch of man into space was certainly a “great” triumph.

Other times, things that seem “great” turn out to be quite the opposite. Somebody, for instance, once thought New Coke was “great”.

“Great” is complex and multi-sided too. For instance, Das Capital constitutes a “great” analysis of history, but woe unto he who tries to implement the prescriptive section of the book.

Then, finally, things we think of as “great” are sometimes not “original” but slight twists on what was before. Exhibit A here might be Facebook.

Here is the beautiful thing: You don’t need to be “original” or “great” to run a successful campaign that drives business, generates lots of earned media, placates large egos, makes stakeholders happy, and pays you money so you can pay the power bill and keep feeding your family.

All you need to do those very important things is produce work that somebody deems “valuable”. You might have an “original” idea in your lifetime. You might even be “great” at certain things on rare occasions. But wasting time and energy focusing on orginality or greatness as ends is very foolish.

Valuable gets to eat. A much better thing than being great, original and starving.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Tonya says:

    Love this post. Valuable is overlooked more often than not in search of “new and great”. Most people think new is better. New or original is bright and shinny but it may not be valuable.

  • Lee Elliott says:

    Good post. The search for original always leads companies to abandon valuable and lose the consistency and recognition required for long-term success.

  • Marty says:

    The number of times I’ve soured on a gadget or web site or software because they removed one feature that was valuable to me and replaced it with something new and supposedly great.

    Original moves us forward as a culture and a species, but valuable sustains business.

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