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Peanut Butter or Lightning

peanut butter or lightning

I recently came across a marketing idea that I think more marketers, particularly those of us who aspire to marketing agility, should consider.

In his book “Play Bigger,” Christopher Lochhead defines two different approaches to marketing. In the traditional “peanut butter” approach, marketers take their yearly budget, divide it roughly into quarters, spread it across all the typical channels, with the intent of pleasing all of their internal stakeholders and reaching all their possible customers and hoping that in one of those channels and with some of those customers, sometime during the year, their message will stick. The result is peanut butter spread so thinly across such a big sandwich that you hardly taste it.

The alternative, according to Christopher, is to focus a disproportionate part of your budget at exactly the right channel/event/place where your most loyal and fervent fans are (what he calls superusers) so that for that one point in time, your message explodes on to the consciousness of those superusers, causing them to spread your message by word of mouth, resulting in greater amplification of your message. As he puts it, he’d rather be ubiquitous, and all anyone wants to talk about for one week of the year rather than be irrelevant for 52 weeks of the year. 

Yes, you have to allocate budget for “keep the lights on” marketing, and yes, if you do this, you have to do it carefully to exactly the right audience at the right time in the right way in order to lessen the risk of this over-indexing of your spend.

But as Agile marketers, shouldn’t we consider radical ideas like this? Shouldn’t we think about budgeting in a different fashion? Wouldn’t we rather be lightning than peanut butter?