Loaves and Fishes

To me, one of the most compelling stories from the New Testament is the story of Jesus feeding multitudes starting with a meager supply of bread and fish. From the point of view of spreading the good word, this simple story had to resonate with a relatively poor, resource-constrained semi-rural population. Imagine feeding a big crowd with what seemed barely enough for a single small family! This is the essential problem facing marketers today...how to feed the desires of the entire organization with marketing budgets that can barely satisfy any part of it. If only we could get others to underwrite our marketing efforts.

This essential conundrum helps explain the dramatic growth of PR as a core marketing tool. If we can get our story on GMA or Oprah their reach will carry us far. It also helps explain the unbelievable growth of "native" (both advertising and content) as a way of getting (even by this little magic trick) more people to see/consume your message without paying more for it.


Social Media holds the promise of joining this elite company, but only when marketers move past their 'mass marketing' perspective and begin to use this channel for what and how it does it best: identifying true brand advocates and encouraging them to tell your story to their audience. These true advocates turn the marketing funnel into a megaphone, telling your story in their authentic words to people who actually know, like and respect them. Here's a perfect example:

  • Last year Activision introduced a new video game: Call of Duty; Ghosts. In a promotion for the game through Hyperactivate, a mere 10 (ten) individuals retold the brand story to 2,500,000 friends and followers. Their friends. Their followers. This, in turn, resulted in more than 50,000 pageviews of the game site and several thousand additional shares. Ten people!

This is a fishes and loaves story if I ever heard one. Forget the 80/20 rule. This is much more skewed than that. Just imagine what this means to the future of ad budgets. If you knew those 10 people you could actively promote to them and let them tell your story to their 2,500,000 friends. And if you could go a bit broader is it not logical that you might limit the major portion of your promotion to perhaps 1,000 people who, in turn, could amplify your message to tens of millions of their friends and followers.


Just as Jesus got a heck of a reputation as a wedding caterer on a budget, just imagine what your reputation might be if you were seen as similarly gifted.