Individual Choices and the Changing Marketplace

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A changing marketplace is the result of the decisions and choices made by millions of individuals for their own personal reasons.

Oh, sure, we can talk about technology driving change. But if the technology doesn’t suit the needs and wants of people – individuals, human beings who don’t think of themselves as part of a mass consumer or business niche – the technology doesn’t take.

Just think about AT&T’s PicturePhone in the late 1970’s. As conceived and designed by Bell Labs, PicturePhone never went anywhere. It’s not just that it didn’t suit the marketplace. It didn’t suit the people who made up the marketplace.

Herein lies the key to marketing: Marketing is about communicating with people. Not “consumers.” Not “businesses.” Not a “demographic.” Not a “niche.” People.

I just read an alarmingly common sense blog by Liz Coker on this subject as applied to mobile marketing. Her contention here is that people in the mobile market “engage and consume on [their own] terms.” That we need “appropriate tools for appropriate use models.”

Yes, but take it a step further. We not only need to use our marketing tools appropriately. We need to model our messaging appropriately.

Or, to take the jargon out of it, we need to get past trying to speak to the trends in the marketplace. We need to concentrate on understanding the reasons behind the trends, the reasons behind the individual choices and decisions that make the trend in the first place.

Think about it for a minute. When you get up in the morning, you don’t stop and think about whether you are a consumer, a business person, a parent, a pet person, a social media guru, a traditionalist who prefers paper, or any other marketing category.

Well, neither do our customers, users, and prospects. They are probably all, or most, of these things, and more; at the very least, they are complex denizens of a complex environment.

Demographic and economic categories are important for parsing the marketplace. Evolved and evolving technologies are important for reaching the widest audience for our story and message.

Let’s just remember that it is people we are trying to reach. People who choose our products and services, or who don’t.

If we focus on where people are going (what the trends are) rather than why they are going there (the reasons the trends exist in the first place), we are doomed to always be just behind the curve in a changing marketplace.

Emily R. Coleman
Dr. Emily R. Coleman is President of Competitive Advantage Marketing, Inc., a firm that specializes in helping companies expand their reach and revenues through strategy and implementation. Dr. Coleman has more than 30 years of hands-on executive management experience working with companies, from Fortune 500 firms to entrepreneurial enterprises. Dr. Coleman's expertise extends from the integration of corporate-wide marketing operations and communications to the development and implementation of strategy into product development and branding.

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