Mass Marketing is Dead. Make Way For Personal Marketing.
The days of mass marketing are coming to an end as we enter a new era of personal marketing. As technology advances, marketers are able to gather more and more data about prospective customers and reach them in new and innovative ways. As these changes develop, its important that marketers recognize the changes taking place and change their tactics to match the changes in technology.
Until recently, marketers have pretty much taken a "mass media" approach to their efforts: Blast out as many marketing messages as possible on every medium available as often as you can afford it. In an era when it's not really possible to learn anything about the audience and their tastes, this crude shotgun method of attack is pretty much the only option. Mass marketing tactics are really just slightly more sophisticated versions of standing on the street corner yelling at people who walk by, hoping that some small percentage of them might be interested in what you have to say.
Mass marketing is already evolving toward a more personalized touch, and as this happens more and more, prospective customers will start to demand it. Consumers are already extremely savvy about filtering out messages that are irrelevant to them. Think about your own behavior; while reading articles online, most of us have learned to simply filter out anything on the screen that is flashing or blinking, or flying across the page because we know that these are irrelevant ads that must use these kinds of tactics to get out attention.
In contrast, contextually relevant, unobtrusive, text-only ads, such as Google Adsense, are a new targeted approach that are a step in the right direction toward more personal marketing. Critics of these kinds of ads say that the cost per conversion can be higher — the higher cost is not justified if the conversion rate is low. This criticism hits on the key difference between mass marketing and personal marketing: personal marketing does require a more intelligent game plan and ongoing analysis. The days of cranking out some one-size-fits-all generic artwork and some snappy copy that appeals to everyone are coming to an end.
Personal marketing will require more work, more preparation, and smarter implementation, but the rewards will be vastly better than the mass marketing approach. For example, consider this post about how a difference of one letter in choosing key words can mean the difference between a 30% conversion rate and a 1% conversion rate. This is the kind of detailed analysis and hard work that will be required to be successful in the new era of personal marketing.
Changes in technology will require even more due diligence on the part of marketers. For example, the inevitable start of Bluetooth Marketing & Proximity Marketing will present new challenges to both marketers and audiences. The challenges will be similar to those of email marketing. Audiences will want to filter out unwanted messages, and it will be important that the marketing industry step up and employ the lessons learned in email marketing to Bluetooth and Proximity marketing, so that the industry doesn't go through a decade of turmoil dealing with new forms of spam while simultaneously crippling the whole medium with a bad reputation.
Changes in technology will present an opportunity to vastly increase the ROI, conversions, and effectiveness of marketing efforts, but the rewards will only be recognized by those marketers who meet the new technology with equal innovation in tactics and lots of hard work. It is more difficult to analyze web traffic, SEO metrics, conversion rates, and sift through databases, than it is to simply blanket the world with your message until your budget runs out, but in the end the extra effort will pay off.
The changes in technology will be coupled with huge advances in data collection and data mining. It will be critical that marketers use this data wisely and ethically. The data can serve to pinpoint audiences with amazing accuracy, which will ultimately make it better for everyone, but the temptation of misusing the data must be mitigated at all costs in order to preserve both the confidence of the public and the autonomy of the marketing industry to operate without strict government controls to protect the public.
The future that I hope the marketing industry creates is a world where audiences receive only the messages that interest them only at the time that they are receptive to the message, and they never receive unwanted messages and will not have to expend much effort to keep from being bombarded by messages in every medium to which they have access. Its a tall order, but the marketing industry has to do it. Otherwise, audiences will take matters into their own hands and refuse to participate.
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