Marketing In A Digital World: Think Globally, Market Individually
I believe the Internet’s greatest strength – the ability to amplify thought -- is also its greatest weakness.
Need proof? Look no further than the much-maligned Millennials who, coincidentally, grew up in step with the Internet.
Elders lambasting those coming of age for their shortcomings isn’t anything new. In fact, if you were to go back in time, earlier generations probably said many of the same things about their younger counterparts that we often hear today about Millennials.
“Self-absorbed, lazy, entitled, think they know it all…” I could go on, but you get the picture.
For previous generations, the passage of time erased those earlier disparaging remarks. But thanks to the bullhorn reach of the Internet, this will not be the case for Millennials. Today, not only are more people exposed to a particular line of thinking, but the sentiments -- and resulting stereotypes – live on in digital memory.
While we humans may forget, search engines have memories like elephants.
Most every Millennial I have ever spoken with takes issue with how their generation has been portrayed - and with good reason. No one wants to be stereotyped, put in a box with a label and judged before the first introduction. Each person wants to be viewed for the unique individual he or she is.
So what’s the takeaway for modern marketers?
In this day and age of big data, analytics and ‘what’s trending’, it’s easy to lump people into a category. While it’s helpful to start with personas, don’t lose sight of the individual. Instead, use the power of technology to personalize your message and connect with your audience in a way that speaks to their unique needs, preferences and idiosyncrasies. It will serve to make the experience richer and more memorable.
Technology can give us a clearer picture of not only what our target audience is looking for, but how they want it delivered and when. Use these capabilities to your competitive advantage. Listen and engage with your customers. And when they express concerns or frustrations, respond and work to rectify the situation quickly.
With today’s digital marketing tools, we can identify and connect with target audiences better than ever before. But that strength can become a weakness if, in the process of labeling large groups, we lose site of the very individuals we are trying to reach.
By addressing your target audience as people vs. personas, you’ll no doubt improve your bottom line. And with the strength of the Internet to amplify your ideas, you might just end up changing ill-conceived stereotypes as well.
Mark Roberts has more than 20 years of technology sales, marketing and product management experience. As ShoreTel’s CMO, he leads the company’s marketing strategy, product marketing, demand generation, branding and external communications efforts.