The internet has created some fascinating new habits, particularly in the social media channels.
One that has grown rapidly is the posting of vacuous, meaningless, blatantly false infographics that claim credibility because, well, they’re infographics. They have images to go with the words, so they must be true!
This lame one’s done the rounds lately – though not much graphics. I suspect it’s distributed by people who have never run their own business, or spent their own money marketing their goods and services, or they only started working in marketing after 2000.
As you know, anything claiming there are new rules to the way people behave when they part with their hard-earned cash, is bound to be chock-full of bollocks.
Let’s deconstruct this shall we, to help the uninitiated.
THEN – Find customers
NOW – Be found
For decades marketers have run ads in all sorts of media, created content for all sorts of media (articles, videos, printed inserts, white papers, seminars, websites, etc) and done as much as they possibly can to be found by customers. Yellow Pages comes to mind – the original analogue search engine.
You would tell prospects and customers what you sell and where you sold it, then hope they would buy from you when they were in the market. You went about finding customers, by making sure you could be found – so to speak. And here’s the rub, in 2014 you still have to find customers – now you just have more channels in which to do so.
What fool thinks all you have to do is create content and stop your advertising or selling? The punters don’t awaken each day, search for content and then kick your door in to throw money at you. Why do you think Woolies and Coles continue to use unaddressed catalogues full of sales copy for example? Maybe it has something to do with “because catalogues work“!
The purpose of business is to acquire and retain customers profitably – always has been, always will be. You just have to find the best channels to get them.
THEN – Demographic
NOW – Behavioural segmentation
Yes, behavioural segmentation has evolved rapidly since the mid-1980’s. It’s not new though. In the 19th century catalogue marketers inserted offers based on previous purchase behaviour. Now we just have more behaviour to track, because we can track every activity online.
And don’t ignore demographics. They are still very handy. Want to sell pool cleaning products for example? You don’t need behavioural segmentation, unless you regard selling chlorine to people with pools, as against people without pools, “segmentation“? Just use any online mapping tool to peer into people’s back yards, then get the pool-owner’s address from street view – it’s not behavioural rocket science.
It’s the simple use of demographics, based on the behaviour of owning a pool. Then you mail them offers and information (sorry, content) so they know where to find you when they are consuming gallons of pool cleaning content on the web.
THEN – Mass advertising
NOW – 1:1 Communications
Hello, is anyone home? 1:1 communications was so popular it became a buzzword in 1980. Dozens of companies named themselves some version of “One to One Marketing“. If you read “How Brands Grow” the brilliant book from the Institute of Marketing Science, you’ll get a clear picture of consumer behaviour and understand why mass advertising is not going to die, just evolve stronger than ever.
And if you want a sure sign that 1:1 marketing online is struggling, just look at the hotel category. The moment every online brand starts spending a small fortune running television ads on the same day, often in the same ad break, you know they are in strife. Trivago, Hotels Combined, Hotels.com, Expedia, etc are desperately using mass media to survive. Some won’t make it, you can be sure of that.
The maths explain it. The more competitive a category (like travel), the more it costs to buy generic keywords and break-through the digi-clutter. And the more costly it becomes to acquire a customer, via PPC, SEO, social media, content marketing, et al. So online marketing becomes too expensive. The marketing department says “we better try mass advertising on TV to generate leads“. Smells like 1999 to me.
THEN – Point in time blasts
NOW – Continuing relationships
I’ve owned a retail supermarket, travel agency and a number of B2B businesses. They were all built on continuing relationships. That’s why a whole industry was created, again over 30 years ago, called Customer Relationship Management (or Marketing depending upon your jargon). It was so popular it became an acronym – CRM! You know you’ve made it in marketing when you have evolved to acronym status.
I don’t know any business in the history of the world that succeeded THEN by using point in time blasts – most people don’t even know WTF it means? Has the author of this infographic ever run a business?
THEN – Few isolated channels
NOW – Exploding integrated channels
Yes there are definitely more channels now – some work, some don’t. As for them being integrated, that’s a drawing a long bow and not the main reason to use online channels.
I vaguely remember some time last century when ads ran in newspapers, magazines and on television with a call to action. People could ring a phone number, clip a coupon, or visit a website to respond – we didn’t label this as integrated media channels, we just assumed it was common sense. (click here for the history of PPC)
Whenever I ask my audiences of marketers at seminars, “who has a current accurate database of their customers?” only about 10% – 20% answer in the affirmative. When I ask “who is following fashion and rushing to every new digi-channel that opens” the majority of the audience is in the affirmative. Why chase fashion, when you don’t have healthy business basics?
If you have a customer name, address, phone number and email address you can run a business. But without customers you don’t have a business. By all means, test different media channels, offers and creative to grow your business – that’s fundamental. Just don’t rush to every new channel because it exists. Test and learn, test and learn is the mantra. Always was, always will be…again.
THEN – Intuitive decision making
NOW – data driven information
Aaahh the old chestnut. Nobody used data until 2010 – what utter bollocks. I opened Australia’s first data consultancy in an advertising agency in 1988! Database Marketing magazine was launched in Australia in 1994! Data-driven marketing is decades old, it’s just more prevalent now.
Why do these sad tragics think that just because something is new to them, it is new to the world?
The real issue is that traditionally, the big brand marketers didn’t use data to drive their marketing on a one-to-one basis. In most cases they didn’t need too, as the population (and therefore market size) was growing organically. So mass marketing was the easiest solution.
But if you ran a small business (about 70% of all businesses), or one based on the way of direct marketing, you ran your business using one-to-one tactics and by building relationships based on customer behaviour. If you didn’t you went broke.
The only thing that has changed is the internet has exposed marketers who previously didn’t use data, to the benefits of using data – lots of data in fact. And these marketers are often those who had big media budgets to flog things like packaged goods. So now they invest some of those media dollars in data capture and analysis, so they can continue to flog things like packaged goods – whoop de woo.
Welcome to the real world kids – wake up and smell the coffee. If you took time to study marketing history and examine the truth, you’d save yourself loads of time and money – and probably stop wasting electrons by forwarding dishonest infographics.
I’m off to make a cuppa and maybe have me some content…