Wait! Doesn’t social make so-called “targeting” as simple as some analytical clicks? Yes and no. A term borrowed from the military, where “targets” have a very valid, explicit meaning, the concept is losing weight in an environment where choices and information sources abound. Sure you can segment your audiences based on “likes,” preferences, positions, neighborhood eateries, etc. But on her new post on how social media has changed over the last five years, Postano’s Julie Blakley shows that customers know too much to “be targeted”:
“… consumers don’t see themselves as the targets that marketing people have traditionally seen them as. They see themselves as people with innumerable options.SproutSocial recently reported that 74% of consumers rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions – which means that companies MUST present themselves well on social in hopes of attracting new customers.”
Blakley relates the change to B2B as well. Her diagram above points out that marketing today is far from a linear path. A “vast, complex, interconnected web of interest, desire, clickthroughs, brand awareness and user engagement” now determines purchase decisions.” Brand advocates, digital and word of mouth have zoomed in credibility. The old marketing reductionism that looked narrowly at audiences as self-interested automatons, whose buttons can be pushed, tricked and cajoled, is fleeing. After more than 40 years in this business, all I can say is “good riddance.” Or as David Ogilvy said even in the Mad Men days, “”The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife.”
BTW, I’ve found that military analogies for marketing don’t even work with our defense clients, who know what “targets” are. Years ago, when I was trying to talk “strategy” with an Army officer, touting Clausewitz and Sun Tzu, he laughed it away: “You have to have years of experience with tactics and operations before anyone will let you get close to strategy.” Whether you’re trying to recruit civilians for working in a military service or helping a contractor sell into an acquisition command, you’re dealing with Blakley’s complex process on steroids. With lives depending on the choices made, brands become extremely customer-centric, and our “strategy” is to serve decision-makers, influencers and job candidates with the info they need when they need it.