Marketing vs. Micromarketing – Moving from mass market to the “massive market”

Isn’t micromarketing just marketing but smaller and targeting fewer people? Short answer no, and let me just preface by saying, there is so much to say on this topic that i feel like a general going into battle, you’re not all going to make it. So in the spirit of writing upside down for the web I put a table together with some preliminary ideas on how micromarketing is distinct from marketing.

ActivityMarketingMicromarketing
Overarching metaphorHunting, targeting (shotgun/rifle)Farming, Cultivating, Growing
Budgetbig bang spending after a tonne of planning, big spike and steady drop off until the next big bang. Media and content lose value over time ready for the next big bangSmall budget, media and content get more valuable over time through continued updates and customer participation
Finding CustomersFinding/Identifying targeting demographicsCustomers identify themselves, part of a ‘network’ of prospects and customers
Talking to CustomersTightly controlled messages broadcast 1 way to mass of people who may or may not be prospects or customers. Only authorized agents create and disperse messages from ad companies to PR agencies.Messages, ideas, and news spread through network of employees, customers & prospects
Listening to CustomersFragmented, filtered through numerous channels, for various purposes. Focus groups, customer research, customer service. The result, a fragmented view of the customer and their relationship with your products and servicesBuilt into the process of talking to customers, the advantage of a dialogue, listening is built into the communication medium
Delivering ValueOne way value chain through the company – outputs value for cashA value network that co-creates value with the customers that want to contribute

Marketing – Sacred Cow or Not?

Marketing is a young discipline, you can argue that marketing has been around as long as trade, but modern marketing is a result of the ability to mass produce ie. the ability for production capabilities to outstrip basic demand. It was only after the industrial revolution that marketing became a necessity and replaced accounting as the discipline to lead business. In fact modern advertising came about after world war II as businesses tried to combat societies “post war frugality”, and the fact that companies were trying to do that at the same time as television was becoming a dominant medium was how modern advertising was born. What i’m trying to say is that marketing and advertising are very young disciplines (relatively) and should not be mistaken for some kind of ’science’ with thousands of years of history.

The Irony of the Mass Marketing is a Mass of Individuals

I call it irony because mass marketing treats the market as a mass of individuals that are not connected. Why is this important? Because mass marketing and mass advertising relies on the kind of embellishment and hyperbole that relies on your customers not getting together and comparing notes, that may expose fibs and exaggerated promise. Why is advertising becoming less effective, because you can only get away with the “new and improved” story so many times before the market gets wise. Don’t get me wrong i actually “love” advertising and think it’s an incredibly creative medium, telling a story in 30 seconds is a beautiful creative constraint, but lets say it’s like me “loving” email, despite the spam.

The mass market is dead, long live the massive market

The mass market concept of some kind of homogenious group of for instance adult males 18-35, is if not totally dead, a bit of a red herring. Instead of trying to find and group customers like that it should be about customers self selecting, identifying themselves and recruiting other customers. No longer is it about the mass-market, now it’s about the massive market, the billions of interconnected customers that are just waiting to self select to be your prospect, customer, partner, evangelist. Phew, i’m tingling just writing that, but it’s happening right now. How did 37signals get to half a million users in a year or two with no advertising? Great product that was worth talking about, and a connection into the blogosphere of web developers that were just waiting to talk about a great new tool.

Micromarketing is the opposite approach to marketing

Traditional advertising involves lots of planning, then a big bang, followed by an immediate spike in activity, followed by a steep decline until the next campaign, this is why I really like the hunting metaphor of targeting and firing some kind of weapon. Lots of marketers like to talk about shotguns and rifles, picking off customers, but in the end once the bullets fired it will eventually lose power and plough into the ground. Micromarketing takes totally the opposite approach, and is certainly more akin to farming where you are essentially seeding ideas onto fertile ground, that will be more valuable and be generating more interest in a years time. A blog is the perfect example of this, I mean a blog has essentially no value when you launch it, it’s like a savings account with $1 in it, but over the year every post you make, every comment that a customer makes, every link that comes from another blog is like a deposit of a couple of dollars, and what you end up with in a year is a blog full of ideas and content that is appreciating with compound interest. This is why the whole ROI conversation on blogs is a total red herring until you do something.

Change is Scary

Clearly this kind of sea change is a terrifying prospect for many traditional marketers, but the good news is all this stuff is going to make your jobs easier. C’mon take a look at these points here and then go read a blog:

  • Customers identify themselves
  • Customers transmit your marketing messages
  • Your marketing tools will become more valuable over time
  • You don’t need to talk to the 90% of people that don’t care about or need your product
  • Product development and market development is built in
  • Talking to and listening to customers will no longer require separate channels

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