Studious

Studious

A blog from SoloPortfolio about content marketing.

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Rethinking Marketing: New Digital Models

April 1, 2009

There are a lot of entrepreneurs out there who are approaching the current downturn with what I think is a wrong-headed approach. That is, “If I just work five times harder than the next guy, I can grab market share (or at least cling to what I’ve got) to weather this recession.”

Wrong! You have got to force yourself to up-end your thinking about marketing and business development. Now is the time to be ruthlessly aggressive about re-inventing your marketing model. In particular, how well do you know your customers and are you reaching them in the best place and at the right time? 

Let’s take a few examples that are truly models of a new kind of thinking about marketing and customer experience in the digital age:

RealAge.com: I don’t care what you think about Oprah and Dr. Oz…. Real Age is a ridiculously smart concept (even if it does test the limits of exploiting online consumer info). Here’s how it works: consumers log on to RealAge and answer a questionnaire about their lifestyles and habits. Then the site spits out your “real age” (read: if you are sedentary smoker, you’ll be an old fart). The key here: in order to use RealAge, you must register on the site with your name and contact info, then users voluntarily offer up all sorts of personal details about their health. RealAge turns around and sells this information to pharmaceutical companies. Reports the NYT in a recent article:

Pharmaceutical companies pay RealAge to compile test results of RealAge members and send them marketing messages by e-mail. The drug companies can even use RealAge answers to find people who show symptoms of a disease — and begin sending them messages about it even before the people have received a diagnosis from their doctors.

Over 27 million have taken the test and 9 million have joined the site. It’s classic database marketing, however, users of the site are motivated to be honest and thorough to get the maximum value from the application. For marketers, who often struggle to reach a highly refined target market… this is a dream. There are lots of critics… here is a good blog entry on the critical side… but say what you will, this is the kind of marketing model that businesses must wrap their heads around. 

1-800-FREE411: I had no idea this existed until a friend mentioned it last week. Free-411 allows callers to access free directory information in exchange for listening to a short ad. So if you call looking for the nearest CVS pharmacy, you may listen to an advertisement for RiteAid. Yup, that’s right, based on the particular business you seek out, you’ll be exposed to a highly targeted ad at the moment that you are seeking out information on that product/service. Wow. They have also recently launched Jingle Connect, which allows high-volume call centers (ie. hotlines) to insert audio advertising for additional revenues. Kind of obnoxious, but again, just another model to get those cogs turning.

Pandora.com: The first time I experienced Pandora, I was an immediate, fervent fan. I absolutely adore Pandora, in part because I’m lazy and really cannot be bothered to wander around i-tunes. My ipod is woefully underused. I mention Pandora here because they too are able to make educated guesses about who is logged on based on their listening habits. While not nearly as accurate as a RealAge profile, chances are that you are not in your 20s if listening to Yanni live… and Pandora won’t advertise beer to you if you are listening to the Jonas Brothers. And here’s the real beauty: Pandora for iPhone may soon be able to provide local advertising based on where the user is currently listening.

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