The Oldest Trick in Marketing

The oldest trick in marketing is improving as more cards are added to the deck.

When trying to make a sale, what is the first question marketers should ask?  Hint: It’s not a concept that developed recently as a result of ‘new media’ or digital marketing. It is a question that every successful marketer or advertiser has asked him/herself since the dawn of marketing. Knowing the answer to this question is the reason that Snake Oil peddlers were able to abundantly sell their wares…The reason infomercials are effective…Heck, it’s the reason Soap Operas exist!

What is this amazing question, you ask? Simple, the question is “who am I talking to.” This question is quickly followed up by a number of other inquiries: How well do I know the people I want to reach? What are their fears, goals, needs, desires and values? Who are they at their innermost being? And finally, how do all of these factors impact my ability in getting this person, or large group, to actually hear my message, versus merely regarding it as noise?

Why do marketers want to know these things? Because, if you were handed the task of selling tickets to a Justin Bieber concert, your approach might be slightly different than if you were selling Opera tickets…The Toyota crowd and the Lamborghini crowd will not see value in the same features or selling points.  The tone, phrasing, vocabulary, location & medium all depend largely on your customer base.

Companies are now employing a myriad of techniques in attempts to meet and get to know the personalities of their consumers. Focus groups, think tanks, surveys, the list can go on and on…all with the intention of gathering useful information, categorical data if you will, that can be applied in a meaningful way to a pitch or campaign. Most of the time, even these educated attempts end up as a never-ending string of experiments, with unforeseen consequences around every corner.

This is where digital marketing is, in fact, quite unique when compared to more traditional forms of advertising. That being, the amount and quality of data made available to marketers in the digital age. The extraordinary depth of knowledge one can gain of their clientele via a proper digital marketing strategy is in a league of its own.

For instance, take a look at the story of Michal Kosinski, deputy director of Cambridge University’s psychometrics center. In a few months, Kosinski built a computer model that predicted, with 60 percent accuracy, whether a person was younger than 21 when his/her parents divorced. Kosinski’s model used only the person’s Facebook “likes” to make its predictions.

Today’s enormous mountain of data can be efficiently organized in ways that were impossible before. And with millions of people actively contributing to this mass of information, the resulting predictive models become much more detailed and precise as time presses on. Speaking of time, the opportunities that social media channels possess for interactive engagement with potential consumers allows for data acquisition and experimentation to occur twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

With mobile technology blossoming, as well as the Internet of Things (sensors that gather/compile/upload data from physical objects) being utilized with more regularity, the future relationship between brands and consumers will be shaped by information of the digital realm. The most difficult part now is for businesses to choose to evolve and keep up with the gargantuan influx of information and rapid change of technology. The sky is the limit when it comes to truly understanding the psyche of potential customers, but progress won’t wait for anyone.

Shelley Graff

Shelley Graff is a Content Marketing Specialist for Affinitiv (formerly Dealer Product Services). Following completion of her Master’s in Communication, Shelley discovered a passion in designing quality, original creations for the digital realm. In her personal life, Shelley’s interests include indie music, muscle cars, the animal kingdom, photography, philosophy and foreign horror movies. Her hero is Mark Twain.

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