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New Marketing Ideas for the 21st Century
Where Have All the Customers Gone?
Here's How You Can Get Them Back

Marketing is the ongoing process of moving people to take action. The action can be to purchase, use or accept your products, services or values. In the past, marketing managers believed that:
  • there were a large number of potential customers
  • customers and their needs were fairly homogenous
  • it was rather easy to replace lost customers with new ones.
Today's marketing has taken a new tack, one which embraces flexibility and change. Here are some of the new marketing ideas for the 21st century.

Differentiating Yourself

With old-school marketing ideas, you can try to define your product by promoting its low price, by raving about it benefits, or by making empty promises. Maybe your competitors are still relying on this formula. But if you want to stand out from the crowd, you need a better approach to marketing in the 21st century.

The new customer is tuned-out and overloaded. But when people think you have an important message, they will still listen long enough to get it. The trick is not to bury information under a lot of creative posturing. To stand out from the crowd, ask yourself what makes you special? What are your credentials? What are your attributes? Attributes can run the gamut from your long tradition, specialist standing, market leadership, celebrity endorsement, innovation, universal acceptance, secret technology, strong motivation, user satisfaction. Think through your difference, define it and promote it.

The Long Tail of Everything

When there were fewer choices, we all participated in a common culture. Everyone in the neighborhood watched Lucille Ball on black-and-white television. We shopped for clothes and appliances at the three department stores downtown. We chose from five breakfast cereals. Now, with seemingly endless alternatives and the infinite inventory of Internet retailers, we are not predictable, locked-in customers. We have become niche markets, choosing from the spectrum of products on the long tail of available choices. Marketers, who used to look for blockbuster products and category killers, are now stretching their horizons and targeting these countless niches for their customers. New marketing ideas reach out to the long tail customer.

Trial and Error Marketing VS Statistical Market Research

Western marketing depends on sophisticated research techniques, with focus groups and marketing managers zeroing in on product features. Asian companies use a different approach. They rely on trial-and-error marketing, followed up with actual observations. They observe the actual product, the actual user and the actual situation. Asian companies enter the market on a small scale, and choose the initial design by imitating competing products, knowing that the product will be modified more than once to get the features right. This process of multiple re-designs is called “churning.” Asian marketing uses the same toe-in-the-water incremental approach.

One-to-One Marketing versus Mass Marketing

Mass marketing has the goal of selling a single product to as many customers as possible. The success of mass marketing is measured by market share. The One-to-One marketer tries to sell a single customer as many products as possible, over time and over all its product lines. The most valuable customers must be identified, because 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers (Pareto Principle). Frequent flyer programs, as well as friends and family referral programs are examples of One-to-One Marketing and Loyalty Marketing. The sales department is organized around customer relationship managers rather than brand managers.

New Marketing Ideas to Build Buzz

Faced with information overload, customers have tuned out your advertising. Furthermore, they are increasingly skeptical of canned messages. But they are connected to each other in a dense network of cell phones, instant messages, emails and Internet sites. Buzz marketing works for products that have unique features, products that evoke an emotional response, and products that are easy to use. Opinion leaders will be the center of your buzz. They’ll be the first to ask for new product info. They’ll be at the trade shows. They’ll be media savvy. You can seed the buzz with a blog, a MySpace page, a prewritten e-mail campaign or a user forum. You can build buzz with celebrity endorsements, or with artificial product scarcity. But proceed on tiptoe, because negative buzz spreads faster than positive buzz.

Who is the Customer in Today's Market?

It’s not enough to rely on last century marketing ideas. Change and flexibility are the mantras of the new marketing. The customers don’t want a product. They want, instead, a packaged solution to a problem. They want a concept that simplifies life, that buys them time, that gives them an edge. They want to feel secure, to feel significant, to feel connected. And, of course, they want to be entertained.

I hope life brings you much success.
I wish you a very happy day.

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