Is Molecular Marketing a solution when mass messaging stops working?

February 22, 2008 at 11:46 pm | Posted in Agency Model, Customisation, Digital thinking, Integration, Mass, Molecular, Path-to-purchase, Segmentation, Strategic planning, Through-the-funnel | 1 Comment

In an era where companies are under pressure to increase shareholder value & efficiencies, John Wannamaker´s famous statement, “I know that half my advertising works, I just don’t know which half” has never been more worrying.

The power of mass messaging is eroding. Some consumers are becoming less responsive to general messaging being pushed at them and are summoning marketers to speak to them on their terms. Many now interact with content with a purpose, goal or need that drives their behavior. In the extreme, they reject most messaging and expect to be seduced by a brand experience to enter into a brand related conversation.

Brand communication is this environment is a bit like raising a teenager. You do your best to teach your kids right from wrong, but at the same time they can be affected by many external factors. Unlike the predictable and controlled process of dropping them at the cinema, when you drop them at a party, pick them up at the end, you never knowing what they actually did. We have to trust that our guidance leads them to navigate safely through the experience.

Likewise, when using mass communication, after the initial Ad. exposure, even the most sophisticated marketers lose their customer in ‘clouds of uncertainty’ or ‘blind spots’ during the decision process. If they are lucky, they find them again at the time of purchase. Unfortunately, most of the time, mass marketing has very little measurable correlation to creating demand.

For stockholders, the process of ‘pushing a general mass message out to a broad audience and holding your breath, hoping for a response’, is not a responsible way to spend money that could otherwise go to the bottom line.

These issues are creating enormous tensions. Contrary to the trend, digital marketing options are creating measurable segmented delivery channels to effectively target messages and track their purchase decision process content interactions.

If traditional mass messaging stops working, what can we do to build demand?

Three complementary options are:

1. Innovation to break through the clutter and get noticed is effective for mass audiences. Whether it be content, context or contact vehicle, most innovation is very short lived. To build a sustainable innovation program often requires a cultural change re-focus your company.

2. Recent trend to become more relevant has been a move towards integrated marketing. Cross discipline integration is driving efficiencies by synchronizing activities and is working very well for products with relatively simple purchase decision processes.

3. The third approach, which directly attacks communication wastage, is segmentation. Many marketers are reluctant to fragment efforts and challenge corporate culture and restructure to explore segmentation or ‘Molecular Marketing’.

Where do I start if my brand needs segmented ‘Molecular Marketing’?

Contrary to traditional marketing, Molecular Marketing requires creating multiple brand messages for different customer clusters and modes.

This segmentation can take many forms: more specific definitions of demographics, mind-set, behavior, context, geography or messaging.

For Molecular Marketing to be effective, we need to invest to develop deeper segmented insights and we need to re-define KPI´s, particularly at different stages of the purchasing decision process.

The key is to understand the consumer’s desired experience at the ‘tipping points’ where consumers and customers are looking for content to form an opinion. The challenge then is to craft our messages to help deliver a branded experience to influence consumers purchase decision. When we align our messages with the modes that consumers are in, we can actually become a part of the experience that consumers are seeking.

Whichever the approach, segmented messaging requires a lot more work. For some categories, the benefit still doesn´t warrant the extra cost and effort. Segmentation is inherently more expensive on a cost per exposure basis, but usually ends up more efficient when you analyze return on objectives.

Where relevant, for the investment to be mutually profitable, the communication industry will have to re-benchmark its value proposition to clients and change its remuneration structure for communication services to be more results focused.

Cheers, BC

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