Friday, January 19, 2007

Better Aim With Snipper Marketing

In "A Market of One" marketer Greg Hoyos (friend of the blog) writes:

"One consumer. One person. Each one of us as the ultimate segment. No two of us are alike."

His thoughts are based on the fact that we are, each of us, an individual market unto ourselves; that as we have shrugged off labels and resist being labeled ourselves we have become less identifiable ~ at least as far as marketing is concerned.

His words are true. The complexities of which he speaks are often the stuff that makes a non-schooled marketing person cringe (and many schooled ones as well), but don't let that stop you from reading & learning. What Greg is saying is that many 'professional marketers' need to un-learn and then re-learn. Like old dogs learning tricks, it is harder for them than for many of you self-taught marketing folks.

His bottom line, or at least the most striking part to me, is this:

"What marketers need to do is look for new commonalities, accepting however that these are transient. They also need - and this is marketing heresy - to accept fuzziness in markets, not to expect precise returns for precise programmes, and to plan fast responses to a moving target."

What he's advising is the very stuff many of the best adult webmasters are doing ~ being aware that, especially on the Internet, people are moving and that you must be flexible and if not anticipate where they are moving to, at least be ready to follow.

It may mean, in fact require, that you be prepared to literally follow your consumers from place to place. Your advertising locations may change from MySpace to Oomph. You may be forced to change the format of your promotional efforts from the old way of thumbnail galleries to the new way of blogs. Did the technology change to meet consumer needs or did the consumer change in the face of new things? It's the chicken or the egg in the sense that in some cases it's one, in the next the other. But you need to think of what is available, what it is popular ~ with whom ~ and why, and what you'll need to do in order to be found.

Once you are found, what changes are your customers experiencing which you will need to deal with? Individuals get married, have children, get divorced, all of which affects their consumption practices (and volume), as do new jobs with higher incomes, the loss of a job, religious conversions, and growing older. While individuals do these things it is individuals which form groups: groups of married people, parents, born again Christians, senior citizens. While this was once the old school approach to marketing, it is no longer enough. I may be a parent, but do I view myself as one? With the birth of my child do I get a subscription to Parenting Magazine or do I keep Maxim? Do I get both? You may be over 60, but if you don't join AARP, are you really in that senior group? Maybe you're watching XGames, playing with your Wii, consuming Cheetos, and washing it down with Mountain Dew rather than coffee. There's no longer the old 'senior citizens' group, but several smaller sectors within (and nearby). Smaller markets, each with a more unique sense of individuality ~ and a greater fluidity or movement between groups. (For more on this, read The End of Consumer Segmentation?, also by Greg.)

This does not mean you change your niche with every trend you see, or jump-ship on what you already do, but rather that you modify actions, expectations and navigation. This does not mean you grab every tech gizmo you read about & implement it your site or in your business model, but rather that you see what is trendy (and therefore popular at the moment) and see what the 'it' factor is. For example, podcasts. Sold and told to us as the latest Great Thing, podcasting really appeals to a very small audience of youngsters. If your target audience is young hipsters, perhaps podcasts are the way for you to go; if not, why bother? At the same time, ponder why podcasts are popular to these young consumers and unpopular with other folks and see what you can see.

One thing is for certain: You will need to stop thinking of your ideal consumer as a large stationary target market of sitting ducks and think of them as a smaller flock of individual moving ones. You can no longer take random shots into the center of the large flock and hope you hit something (per the old adult webmaster number games); you'll need to pick them off one by one.

You are going to need better aim.

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