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All Marketers Are Geniuses: Moving from Ubiquity to Specificity

Posted by James Green on February 21st, 2012 at 7:15 am

The age of spray and pray marketing is over.  Today’s brands are learning from the mistakes of marketing past and leveraging social data and advanced technology to better target their efforts online.  For this installment of All Marketers Are Geniuses, I connected with and award-winning brand and marketing expert with over 20 years of experience on both the agency and client sides of marketing, Scott Kraft.  As CEO of Gadfly Inc, Scott works with major marketers, like University of Phoenix, and startups to develop ground-breaking campaigns and strategies.  Below, Scott shares his thoughts on how consumer-centric marketing is helping brands shift strategies from ubiquity to specificity.

1.     As a marketer, how would you define consumer-centric marketing today, and how can it be measured?

The US Internet is the world’s most competitive and innovative marketplace in history. Not just for commerce. Ideas battle it out online at least as ferociously as retailers do. While many factors can contribute to failure on the Internet, lack of a customer-centric ethos throughout the organization is the primary issue. Perhaps one can make a quick buck or get a following before people catch on that an organization is not customer-centric, but people quickly find out and word spreads through the social networks faster than one can hope to control the conversation.

As to how it can be measured, that’s tricky. Large companies with deep pockets and lots to win or lose spend lavishly to get as much understanding as they can on what this value is. But not many ask the simplest question - a kind of net-promoter score for marketing: would you recommend that a friend check out our ads, website, twitter stream, Google search ad, etc.? If more people are telling you “no” than “yes,” you have work to do.

2.     How has the growth of data impacted consumer-centric marketing?

Data helps us identify problems and drives us to do better. The social Internet drives brand perception continuously and often in big swings. Unfortunately, marketers often lag days or weeks behind the data. Assessing the impact of social media and attempting to use it as a barometer of reputation is nearly impossible right now, although many startups are working on solving these huge challenges. What we do know is the scope of our exposure in the social Internet, and that’s very valuable because it is a good barometer of how we’re doing across the board. The more we understand the data coming from all our consumer interactions, the better we can offer the right messages and offers to the right people - and that makes our marketing efforts far more consumer-centric. Instead of blasting a million people with a message that only 1% care about and alienating some portion of the other 99%, we can specify with much greater accuracy the people we think will be interested and avoid disrupting the others until and unless we have something that will interest them.

3.     The multitude of media vehicles available to consumers and the rise of interactivity online puts consumers in a better position to make more informed buying decisions – how has this changed media buying or marketing for a brand like University of Phoenix?

For a long while in the 2000s, the prevalent media strategy was ubiquity. Over advertise. We still see it. Mostly lower end stuff. But every now and again, I’m amazed to see an ad running against completely irrelevant content not intended for the apparent target market. And it worked. Well-known companies grew very quickly with this approach. Lots of credit was sold, too. I’m talking about traditional advertising as well as online. The theme was 360-degree embrace of the customer. The marketer wants to ensure that she gets as close as possible to the ideal goal of always being available when the consumer wants us and always staying top of mind if they’re contemplating an alternative.

Today, we have far more data and far better tools to move from ubiquity to specificity -at scale. Which means we can be a lot more consumer-centric. Most important, we can be less intrusive and more relevant with our advertising. The first generation of tools to accomplish this were crude, but today’s tools provide more specificity.

4.     From your perspective, how has targeted media contributed to the rise of consumer-centric marketing? What is the largest contributing factor?

I’ve talked a lot about targeted media from a marketer’s POV. For a consumer, it should mean less clutter or marketing pollution, as many consumers would describe it. In order for marketers to cut down on their over-marketing, they need confidence that they will be able to find their customers in the midst of this hugely competitive environment. With more and more new brands having huge success without resorting to ubiquity as a strategy, we will see the importance of targeted media rise - because consumers want less marketing, which is exactly what targeted media allows for.

5.     Complete this sentence,  “All Marketers Are Geniuses because…”

… marketers have so many opportunities to learn from their mistakes!

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