August 13, 2013

2010: What If EVERYBODY Is Right?

Five popular songs from 2010:
  • "Runaway" - Kanye West featuring Pusha T
  • "What's My Name?" - Rihanna featuring Drake
  • "Love The Way You Lie" - Eminem featuring Rihanna
  • "Nothing On You" - B.O.B featuring Bruno Mars
  • "Need You Now" - Lady Antebellum
By 2010, the world was moving in many different directions.
  • Dell generated a couple million dollars of clearance activity using Twitter, causing folks to believe that social media was the next big marketing channel.
  • A Microsoft employee stated at a conference that any company not fully entrenched in mobile would be "out of business by the end of 2010".
  • E-commerce continued to grow at an unfettered rate.
  • The iPad signaled the promise of Tablet Commerce.
  • Many catalogers (yes - catalogers) were thriving.
My research showed several interesting findings.
  1. Catalog customers did not respond to social media or mobile.
  2. E-commerce brands with young customers did not respond to catalogs.
  3. Customers within 5 miles of a store overwhelmingly preferred the in-store experience over the e-commerce experience, using the website to facilitate the in-store buying experience.
  4. An ever increasing number of purchases could be attributed to numerous marketing channels.
  5. An ever increasing number of purchases would still happen, if all of the marketing activities stopped.
This told me that EVERYBODY was right.

EVERYBODY!

If your customer is one of a million that loves "social shopping", then yes, social media works.

If your customer is one of forty million that love e-commerce, then yes, e-commerce will grow at epic rates.

If your customer is 55+ and lives in a rural area, well, then, there's no better channel than a catalog to engage a customer.

If your customer lives within 5 miles of a store, then 80% or more of customer purchases have nothing to do with digital marketing and are hopelessly mis-attributed.

If your customer is 27 years old and can't live without a smart phone, then yes, mobile means everything.

Everything works.

In 2010, it became evident that Google + Apple + Amazon + Facebook + Twitter + Verizon + Comcast gobbled up the world, while at the same time blowing customers into their own micro-niches.  Depending upon your customer, you could prove that anything/everything worked.

This created enormous opportunities.  Because attribution folks, on average, were terribly over-stating the impact of marketing channels on purchases, a fortune could be made by MARKETING LESS, not by marketing more as was being sold by the punditocracy.

Starting in 2010, I could easily find $1,000,000 in incremental profit per $100,000,000 catalog / e-commerce / retail brand.  The key wasn't to do everything (what became known as omnichannel).  The key was to identify who the customer was, the demographic cohort the customer belonged to, then to reduce wasteful marketing to that cohort.

To me, 2010 was the year that customers crawled into their micro-niches, thanks to social and search and mobile.  

We still haven't learned how to deal with micro-niches.

As a result, everybody is shouting at you, telling you "how" to do things. And when you do what the experts tell you to do, their tactics don't work. Of course they don't work! They can't work. Your customer, and your unique circumstances, dictate a different solution. A solution that you invent.

Modern marketing is so much more difficult than it was in 1990. You, yes YOU, are accountable. A cookie cutter approach cannot work in your specific circumstance. I know, I know, it would be easier if you could color by the numbers. Then you could go back to 1990 and earn a solid middle class salary without investing the kind of effort you have to invest today just to get by. It's not 1990 anymore. It's 2013. For a few years now, everything works, meaning you have to use trial and error and vision to find out what works for your customer. Today, everybody is right. That means that, for your business, everybody is wrong. 

You are accountable.

It's on you.