Today’s Marketing is Unsustainable

Over lunch with a thoughtful client recently, we got into a discussion about unsustainable marketing. The client mentioned how in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, his company was a practitioner of “Spray and Pray” marketing. They blasted out millions of letters and later, turned to millions of emails for customer acquisition.

For some years it seemed to work. Then an analyst carefully did the numbers and discovered a few things:

  The quality of customers they were acquiring via these “spray and pray” blasts were not high quality, long term customers. Many were actually costing money, given the acquisition costs.
  The belief that “markets are huge” turned out to be a myth.
  The high quality, high value customers were in fact, finite. They needed to be carefully targeted, and harvested.

I recently explored the unsustainable nature of much of today’s marketing, and the alternative, which is truly customer-driven marketing, with Ginger Conlon, the editor of 1 to 1 Magazine and 1 to 1 Blog. She wrote a thoughtful piece, which I think you will enjoy: 

Here are some highlights from that blog:

Roman said that the key to marketing success today is connecting with customers. Data modeling is not enough; neither is throwing more technology at the problem or writing more clever copy. "We can only stop the obscenely wasteful practices of our industry by listening to customers and then changing our practices based on their preferences," he said, adding that he's seen companies achieve consistent double-digit response rates by using the voice of the customer (VOC) to guide their marketing strategies.

Try This:
Take a careful look at your target market. Is it as large as you thought, or are the high value/high profit sources of customers finite?

Ask yourself: Can you afford to strip mine just the top layer of these markets through "spray and pray” blasts, or do you need a more effective strategy to carefully acquire and then cultivate these segments to ensure long term yield?

Think of your target markets as finite, precious and perishable resources and you will begin to develop more effective, more sustainable and higher yield marketing strategies. Soon you will be able to achieve consistent double-digit response rates instead of the anemic, traditional, single digit response.