Scale v. Strategy

The thing about digital in regards to our brands, is that it’s completely shifted the way we should be looking at our consumers and marketing success. Our thoughts of reaching universes of consumers in hopes to drive a small percentage to a varying group of conversions for a profit is a very cold, unemotional activity that, by the grace of statistics has worked fairly successfully in the past decades. If Company X were to purchase media to a reach of a 5,000,000 universe, with a frequency of 3, we would be able to systematically calculate a ROI for this activity. An impersonal approach to a very personal decision (a purchase). Our entire industry has been built on this mindset while some of the largest companies in the world have been created due to its success. However, things have changed, as I’m sure you’re aware.

This thing called social media happened and has opened the door to a two-way dialog with consumers as well as extreme amounts of access (to alternatives, information, product sourcing data, and company secrets). These quick moving factors have created a more empowered consumer with the ability to decide how they want a brand interaction, to some extent. Expanding this empowerment through mobile and into location, and you have an environment which we’ve never seen or could ever imagine. Marketers around the world are struggling to make sense and find their place in this new environment; mostly using concepts and activities of years past, just to say they are participating.

The worst thing about participating in the “new world” of marketing with “old world” thinking is the fact that we still measure and expect to measure with “old world” metrics. I can’t remember which article it was, but it was about Foursquare and how they had a strong Black Friday this year. I happened to read the comments section to see what others thought about the article, and to no avail there, in black and white, with a nifty little profile picture, was someone talking about scale. That Foursquare as a marketing tool is a failure due to the lack of “scale” the platform provides with its measly 10 million users. While holding off a “new world” thinking glib, “get your head out of the dark ages” response to this particular commenter, I took a week or so to think about scale an how it translates in today’s marketing world, with everything interconnected and various marketing activities to perform specific tasks.

The idea of Scale v. Strategy came to me as both are extremely important.

Scale: Still highly relevant. In order to grow a business there are two things that can happen. 1) reach new customers to make a purchase decision 2) current consumers purchase more. The best way to fulfill #1 is to look at the aspect of scale. That is where traditional marketing is extremely effective. As a digital native and quickly moving into a completely on-demand lifestyle, I  still believe that traditional activities like TV, Outdoor, Radio, and Display advertising are still very relevant. And using the mindset of scale here is the right approach. In order to make a new sale, we need to reach x amount of individuals so that, statistically, y number of those people will purchase. Scale, still relevant, but notice I didn’t mention anything about social channels or anything in the “new marketing” world.

Strategy: Focusing on scale does have a specific purpose, to get people into the funnel and make a mass aware of a product or service. Without this awareness, we have a higher barrier to entry into a new consumer lifestyle. But, we need to approach scale strategically with this purpose to bring people into the funnel and create awareness. This is the part that most “old school” marketing executives miss… what do we do with the consumer after scale? Now, the amazing thing about digital / social / mobile, is that we can create individualized marketing and communications activities, once we have this new consumer on board.

we need to plan accordingly on how to best leverage these new world platforms to ensure a consistent, value added experience for each user.

As individual consumer needs are becoming dynamic and different from one another, we need to plan accordingly on how to best leverage these new world platforms to ensure a consistent, value added experience for each user. These activities, most likely, won’t be at “scale” but will provide a very different and distinct value to the consumer and the business. Understanding the benefits of the different platforms allows us to prioritize digital / social / mobile activities and map them back to business results. Focusing on our growth model from above, we can walk our consumers or prospects through our “new world” web of touchpoints to drive towards a new purchase, expand current purchases, build extreme loyalty / advocacy / passion towards our lifetime value of our brand, and simply expand word of mouth for more powerful reach and awareness of our products or services (fulfilling both #1 & #2).

Scale & Strategy go hand in hand, not necessarily one or the other, but in most cases, you can’t have one without the other.

As you can see, Scale & Strategy go hand in hand, not necessarily one or the other, but in most cases, you can’t have one without the other. If we look at the comment that was made on the Foursquare article mentioned above with this new lens, we can obviously see that the discussion of Foursquare not having “Scale” is absurd. The platform matters to those 10 million people on the platform. The question is, how will you accomplish your business growth by developing a strategy to cater to and enchant those specific individuals?

What are your thoughts? Have any questions? Comment below or contact us.

 

Photo courtesy of Flickr – Kheel Center, Cornell University

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