Fragmentation - The End of Mass Marketing
By Troy Laughren
Once, not so long ago, as Monday morning came again employees would gather around the office water cooler to talk and catch up on weekend activities. In this water cooler gathering place you could be quite confident that most everyone would be familiar with Sunday night's episode of Seinfeld... and your feeble impression of Kramer's awkward movements and border-line insanity would not fall on deaf ears and result in blank stares of bewilderment...
Today however, with the fragmentation of so many mediums, and especially TV, a vast majority of the water cooler crowd would indeed give you a blank stare; wondering what in the heck you were even talking about.
Today there are hundreds and soon to be thousands of T.V. channels... Gather around the water cooler today and instead of 'continuity' flowing throughout the group you are almost certainly guaranteed of hearing a variety of out of sync conversations. On one side of the water cooler you'll hear conversations about the many reality television shows, the latest crime investigation drama, the hot new teen soap and a smattering of opinions on worldly affairs. Take a step slightly to the left and you'll be exposed to the internet's latest bizarre video find, and a rehash of humorous internet classics... move your attention a little further down the line and you are sure to hear the bantering about of a handful of newly discovered web sites, blogs or social networks...
Mass advertising has gone the way of the dodo... and although many will attempt to grasp onto it with their last dying breath as it inevitably fades away into the past like the dinosaurs of old, others will embrace the fragmentation as new opportunity and go forth with a clearer vision of the future; using direct communication, targeted customers and powerful messages to dominate markets and decimate competitors. The big question is... which path will you follow?
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Born out of the fiery forges of confidence, consumer trust, and highly reachable prospects - Advertising was once synonymous with mass marketing.
Today however those fiery forges are quickly getting smothered by consumer non-confidence, skepticisms and a market place so fragmented it will never again be put back together. Like Humpty Dumpty's all the kings' horses and all the kings' men... many will try... but all will fail.
Conceived by Ptolemy at the beginning of the first century A.C.E., the earth he claimed was the center of the universe fixed and immovable and that everything else revolved around it...
Not until a century and a half later when Copernicus proved him wrong; did incorrect calculations, theories and incongruities begin to make sense. When an assumption is based on a falsehood, like the earth being a fixed object and everything else revolving around it, it's no wonder things get skewed, are unbelievable and are full of inconsistency.
Mass marketing is like Ptolemy's theory of a fixed earth with everything revolving around it; it's doomed to failure because it's wrong. Mass marketing worked... not very good, but sort of... in a time when people could trust. Markets we're easier to access via limited media choices and cynical thoughts were not the first ideas that popped into our head whenever someone made a statement.
Using a corporate-centric model, like Ptolemy's incorrect earth theory as a starting point to build a company or advertising campaign upon, creates a week and shaky foundation. With even the slightest of breeze a smart competitor can bring the business or advertising campaign crashing to its knees.
Fragmentation... a mass advertiser's worst nightmare is now reality, It's no longer on its way... it's here now, just look around...
The decentralization of the population makes mass advertising nearly impossible today - 20 years ago the masses congregated in central downtown locations, at city fairs and city parades, today however with the rise of walled cities, steady growth of the suburbs and rural communities, the population tends to stay with their own, rather than venturing to the larger, busier and scarier city centers. These autonomous groups hold their own parades and fairs have their own shopping centers and fast food locations, movie theaters and service providers - they no longer have a need to go to the big city... everything they need is within their reach.
The good news is that consumer consumption is on the rise, in 1960 consumers spent $4.8 trillion on goods and services, and in 2000 it exceeded $20 trillion. As consumption increases, the need for more and more suppliers also increases - motivating big business to rapidly set up shop in the suburbs and rural communities before competitors do. This rapid perpetual supply and demand cycle, along with fear as crime rates continue to rise, increasingly motivates the masses to move from cities to the suburbs and rural areas where they feel safer - 'rural areas and suburbs are a nice place to raise a family or live in peace and quiet and still having access to all the amenities of the big city.' Is what many are thinking.
The advent of the Internet has allowed millions and millions of people to make a living as a direct result of its existence, and millions more by supporting it, supplying it and using it to facilitate the selling of their goods and services to people that prior to its inception, wouldn't have had access to.
Since 1999 I've made a fulltime living selling software to technical support personnel over the internet. Several bed and breakfasts that I'm familiar with are booked up a full year in advance - thanks to their web site - with guests from Europe, Asia and other continents that they would have never been able to access had it not been for their web site. A classic screen door carpenter I'm acquainted with sells custom made screen doors all over the world thanks to the Internet. E-bay is another great example; at last count its selling platform allowed for over 1 million people to make a full time living off its service.
Media in the US has also exploded over the last 100 years; there are now 2425 daily newspapers, 90 years ago there were only 46. Canadian media has exploded as well, recent figures indicate we have about 10% of the daily newspapers as our American neighbors... a number well on target as we also have 10% of their population (30 Million in Canada - 300 Million in the US).
In the early 1900's you could count the magazines that existed on your fingers, today there are well over 10,000 print magazines and 100's of thousands of electronic newsletters (e-newsletters) that can be found scattered all over the Internet.
With the decentralization of the masses, access to a global community via the internet and a media explosion never before witnessed in modern history it's no longer possible to treat the masses like sheep and herd them about. Fragmentation has scattered to wind that herd of mass consumers advertisers once thrived on.
Migration to the 'burbs is increasing, the internet gives more and more people the autonomy to live where they want, mass media is fragmenting to a finite point - supplying every niche imaginable with its own medium, and the internet is compounding the media fragmentation dilemma... as electronic newsletters, blogs, social networks and web pages are ever increasingly becoming available.
Thousands and thousands of micro communities, 10's of thousands of media formats and the autonomy to live wherever you want clearly indicates that mass marketing is dead. There is no mass herd left to market to. Try as you might, holding onto bad advertising tactics and strategies will only result in skewed sales figures, unbelievable sales drops, absent customer loyalty, and inconsistent, if any, business growth.
Fragmentation has put an end to the effectiveness of mass marketing - but opened us up to thousands of new ways to access and communicate with potential customers...
Smart and profitable web site design is the single most important marketing concept, lead generation magnet, competition reducer, prospect closer, money generating tool that you'll ever encounter - its about positioning yourself as the only viable choice in the market, its about generating leads and working those leads, and so much more... "Troy Laughren, CEO, Digital Authority, Inc.
We're always impressed with your attention to detail and beautiful designs. But I gotta tell you, you really out did yourself this time Troy. The new site is way more than any of us ever expected. I will continue recommending you to everyone!!!Stuart Laughlin, CEO, TestKingz Inc.