Friday, May 10, 2013

Marketing 101: Overview of Customer Driven Marketing Strategies

One thing is for sure, no human being is like another. Two people may be very similar, but they will always be different consumers, influenced by different attitudes and beliefs. As marketers we have to accept the fact that we can't appeal to all types of buyers in the marketplace, and there is just no way to appeal to any two buyers in the exact same way.

In order to achieve maximum value from consumers according to our working definition of marketing, we need to focus on the right target customers that will give us the right relationships that achieve maximum customer value and equity. Stop for a moment and notice that I wrote the word "target". This was not a coincidence.

Decades ago, most marketing money was allocated towards mass marketing efforts. Products and services were created to attract and serve as many customers as possible. It was thought that the best way to make as much money as a possible was to sell as many products as possible to as many people as possible. The concept of customer equity wasn't even a part of the mindset of the marketer.

Mass Marketing (also known as undifferentiated marketing) is a marketing strategy that originated in the 1920's as a way of appealing to as many potential buyers in the marketplace as possible. Mass Marketers choose to ignore market segment differences and try to appeal to as large of a customer base as possible with a single product offering. The marketer is assuming that their product meets the needs of an entire population of consumers, and that they can appeal to those consumers in the same way. Mass Marketers aim to broadcast their messaging to as many people as possible, as often as possible. Traditionally mass marketing has focused on the mediums of radio, television and print due to their reach. The marketer assumes that by reaching the largest audience possible, exposure to the product is maximized and sales will be at their maximum.

However there are clear disadvantages to mass marketing practices.  First, we know now that consumers don’t all think alike; so what works well for one group of consumers does not always translate well for another. Second, consumers are becoming less and less interested in "standardized" products (think canned soup), and are very willing to pay higher prices for products that cater to their needs and desires.  Third, mass marketing usually involves much higher costs, especially for the corresponding media buys.  For smaller companies with smaller marketing budgets, mass marketing just isn't possible.  A more focused, budget-effective method of marketing is required: Customer Driven Targeted Marketing.

Customer Driven Targeted Marketing
Because of its advantages and the reality that all companies differ in their abilities to serve different market segments, most marketers have shifted over to customer driven targeted marketing.  In the process of creating a targeted marketing plan we identify one or more marketing segments, and then develop products and marketing programs that are "targeted" to each type of consumer we are pursuing.  A customer driven marketing strategy consists of four distinct "steps", typically grouped into two groups:

1) Selecting The Right Customers To Serve:
-Via segmentation: by dividing the total mass market into smaller segments
-Via targeting: by selecting the right segment or segments of the marketplace to enter

2) Deciding On a Unique Value Proposition:
- Via differentiation: differentiating the market offering (ie: the product) and thereby creating superior customer value
- Via positioning: placing the product offering in the minds of the target consumer with the right messaging

These four steps create value for the target consumer, and allow us to receive value from them.  Over the next few posts I will be diving in further to the Customer Drive Targeted Marketing process.


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