Monday, 6 February 2012

view from the fence...

I'm not really a marketeer, or marketer as I believe they prefer to be called nowadays. I'm more of a writer. Which means I observe and comment rather than steer. I find you often get the best view from sitting on the fence.

Like today. I received an email broadcast from two of the people I admire. One is Seth Godin who seems to have captured the zeitgeist of what's happening in this new model of business that the internet and social media have been the catalysts for. And the other is Drayton Bird, an old school marketer and writer who has a lot of pithy wisdom to divulge.

Today's missives were interesting. Seth was talking about how businesses are getting better at targeting their customer. His message was that the customer isn't necessarily the end user. Nike targets athletes and celebrates them because they don't really have a clue who actually buys their gear. Similarly Apple only ever had one customer. It was Steve Jobs because he was the voice, soul and vision of every apple customer. In short, Seth was saying, as he often does, focus on your real customer and build your business around them.

Drayton was talking about the Pareto principle and how businesses demand to get more sales often means they ignore the bottom of the barrel. The long tail I believe it's called in SEO terms. It's easy to keep targeting the top 20% who make up 80% of your income - but when you look at the figures sometimes those loyal customers cost a lot to keep loyal. Whereas the 80% who don't buy so often can be much cheaper to get an order from. In a nutshell he was saying don't let the stats drive your business.

What I thought was interesting, was, that although these views might seem a little contradictory, actually they both point to the same thing. The old model of looking at the numbers and going after the easiest return is no longer viable. For businesses to stay in businesses, they have to work harder. Harder at getting to know their customers better, harder at finding out what motivates people, not just what socio-economic group they're in. And harder at thinking ahead to what all these diverse customers will mean to their product line, their service proposition and their brand.

It also shows you can admire two schools of thought - even if they oppose each other. Time to get on my fence again.

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