Advertising in the New World

I was recently reading an article by an acknowledged guru on mass marketing strategies. He was talking about the shift away from mass marketing towards a more personal, one-to-one approach. He spoke at length about the impact this will have on businesses and how they have to adapt. Then, with his closing two sentences, he showed that even he seems to have completely missed the true significance of this change. His last two sentences were, “Buy mass media while the masses can still be reached. Reaching people one at a time doesn’t offer nearly the return on investment.”

Whether they know it or not, businesses of all sizes are already reaching people one at a time, and if they’re not aware of that, and are failing to manage the message, then it will offer a very poor ROI indeed. Just a few years ago, a bad experience only reached the handful of people closest to those directly involved. Today the story of a bad experience can, literally, circle the globe in a matter of hours. Millions of dollars’ worth of mass marketing can be wasted by ignoring the one-by-one message that’s walking out the door each and every day. A handful of bad experiences can sabotage a business to the point where no amount of marketing can save it.

Every client that comes through the doors, or visits the website, or calls customer service is an advertising message. A living, breathing, talking billboard that will spread the message of their experience to a potentially huge audience. The businesses that miss this, and continue to rely on mass marketing, while treating their customers as cattle with wallets, will soon discover that they’re standing on the dock watching the ship steaming out of port without them.

Mass marketing is no longer the core of a business’ publicity; it’s becoming a mere supplement. The true marketing for all businesses is happening on the front lines, where the customers experience the culture of the business. By treating customers well, and giving just a little bit more, the return on investment could reach stratospheric levels; massive popularity for little expense. By ignoring this simple thing, no amount of expenditure could produce a return on investment worth even a fraction of the cost.

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