The demise of mass marketing

There’s no question the digital realm has become a dominant player in the world of sales and marketing.Businesses and marketers alike are scrambling to get control of these rapidly evolving new tools. What they are discovering is that they need to rethink their sales and marketing, find creative ways to employ technology and ride the trends to success.

Targeted banner ads, personalized direct mail, segmented e-mail campaigns and viral variable videos all have one common denominator – the audience and, more specifically, each member drives the medium and the message. If you’re listening, and participate in the conversation, then you may just be rewarded with a new client, a referral or the sale of a product. The audience may even tell you how to improve your product, how they use it, and where you can sell more.

The development of social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter have made the process of receiving such information available for the taking – you just need to be engaged. “It’s all about me.” That’s what consumers are saying loud and clear. Today’s generation wants you to know about them – where they shop, what they buy, how much they’re willing to spend. But, there is a definite change in the preferences of today’s Gen Y and Z’ers from that of the peaceful ‘60s offspring, who are all about privacy. The generations aren’t completely different, though. They both want you to cater to their needs.

The principle is simple – learn what your target likes, remember this when you market to them, and you will be successful in enticing them to learn more or make a purchase. Think about this as the beginning of a relationship. You’re on a first date and you definitely hope a second date is in the cards, so you remember everything your date tells you – favorite food, lucky number, or perhaps when they plan on buying a new TV and whether it will be a plasma or LCD.

An easy example of a targeted campaign would be for an automobile dealer. Knowing the profile of previous car buyers – when they purchased, what they purchased, and how much they spent would allow the dealership to uniquely target each previous buyer. Before the sophistication of automated targeting, a business would need to create multiple lists, then separate mail or e-mail campaigns would be created for each list. Now, the data known for each individual can be incorporated in the marketing piece. Pictures, headlines, body copy – everything can be changed automatically based on data.

If you’re any good at relationships you know that not everything is said out loud. That’s why one-to-one marketing relies on monitoring the conversation, the actions and reactions of the target. Did he or she open an e-mail because of the subject line? Did he or she click on a particular article or coupon? Did he or she do nothing with an e-mail (because that’s an action too)? Are they a fan of your Facebook page? Are they following you on Twitter – or better yet, are you following them? What about the Web site? Where did they go? How long did they stay there? A conversation is two way and ongoing. Stay engaged.

The rumors of the death of mass marketing have been greatly exaggerated, and partly by me. It’s still important to communicate on a broad level, for many reasons – build name recognition, create a brand persona, and even broader sales and marketing efforts. Radio, TV and newsprint are the three traditional media that have new purposes. Mass marketing is still a powerful tool.

But speaking to a smaller audience, but with messaging specific to each individual will yield incredible results when done correctly.

Marketers who are new to this fear that using a smaller net will catch fewer fish. If a campaign is executed poorly then they are right. To ensure success for segmented campaigns you must follow these steps:

• Ensure the information you have about each target is accurate, timely and a motivational driver
• Execute multiple campaigns in various media. Do not just hit send once and assume the pirate treasures will appear. Have multiple conversations before making “the ask”
• Integrate sales and marketing efforts. Complete and thorough integration of the sales team within marketing efforts is absolutely essential for results.Companies have been clamoring for measurable results from marketing and accountability from sales, and guess what? You’ve got it.

Sean Owen, president and chief executive of the full-service marketing agency wedü and Printers Square, both in Manchester, can be reached at 603-647-9338 or, or on Twitter, @seanmowen.