How to Prospect for New Customers Now that the Internet Disrupts Traditional Marketing

The internet and its disruptive influence on traditional marketing means that well-researched consumer insights are no longer a luxury

Disruption – It’s a hot word in business circles. We all know the effects of market disruption brought on by marketers like Amazon. And we all know that the internet is what causes market disruption to spread. But few analysts delve more deeply into the root cause of that disruption. It isn’t caused simply by the internet’s existence, but how the internet has transferred the power of information that controls the exchange of goods and services from the marketer to the consumer.

It is this shift in control of information, not necessarily how the information is delivered or disseminated, that is key, according to a new book, The Age of the Consumer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance, by my friend and colleague Jim Blasingame.

As Jim proclaims:

The age of the customer is upon us. After centuries of markets driven in large part by those who sell, today’s competitive environment is driven by the customer. This means marketers can’t go forward with their marketing plans without deep consumer insights about motivations, not just behavior or demographics.

Jim Blasingame is an expert on small business and entrepreneurship, as well as president and founder of the Small Business Network, Inc., a media company dedicated to serving small business and host of syndicated The Small Business Advocate Show, on which I am frequently a guest. In Jim’s new book, he explains a paradigm shift going on in the commercial world from the Age of the Seller to the Age of the Customer. You can find out more at:

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The rules of marketing have changed in the new age of the customer. It requires changes in how we market goods and services to the newly information- empowered consumer.

The basic premise of Jim’s book is that in the new age of the customer, the seller or marketer of goods and services has lost control of the information about what they are selling. Where once the seller controlled the message through carefully-crafted advertising and consistent messaging, we are now in an era in which product information is overwhelmingly created by the customer.

Today, the customer no longer needs to rely upon the marketer to tell him or her about the product, its advantages, and so on, but instead can go to a rapidly-expanding library of information about products and services on the internet, including User-Generated-Content (UGC). This has turned the tables on the marketer with a resulting loss of power in their relationship with the customer.

Essentially in the new age of the customer, the product itself has been commoditized and lost its significance, as the customer has vastly superior ways of discovering viable alternatives through the internet and the access it provides to information. Information is key and the source of power in the business relationship – which now the customers, not the sellers, control.

Jim’s solution to successful marketing in the new age of the consumer is for marketers to make their messages relevant. Relevance — communicating important, interesting information to the customer which makes him or her take notice — is the new call to action for marketers.

The moment of relevance requires marketers understand their customers’ point of view and consumer research delivers those insights

Making your marketing messages relevant requires marketers to have a deep understanding of their customer – not just the traditional who, what, where, when kinds of data collected in most customer surveys, but now the need is to deeply understand why people buy. The underlying motivations and drives that power the customer are far more powerful than just understanding behavioral and demographic customer data that is commonly found in internal CRM systems. A deep understanding of the consumers’ point of view, attitudes and motivations pays huge dividends in more effective and relevant marketing and branding in this new age of customer world.

Market research is no longer optional. Marketers can’t afford to play fast and loose anymore, throwing ideas and concepts out into the market just to see what sticks. Marketing is now a psychological game and marketers must start by understanding the customers’ deep psychological needs.

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Unity Marketing can be your business partner in understanding your customer and turning that understanding into successful marketing and branding strategies

Unity Marketing’s been in the business of studying the consumers for over 20 years. Our research among affluents which produces the exclusive LCI (Luxury Consumption Index) gave us – and our clients — a six months advance warning in 1997 of the brewing financial crisis that led to the recent recession. We are out in the market four times every year with in-depth surveys among 1,200+ affluents about their purchases and shopping behavior, attitudes and purchase motivations. In addition, Unity Marketing routinely conducts qualitative research studies for publication, as well as exclusively for our clients.

Unity Marketing should be your partner in understanding your best customer prospects, which are the affluent consumers who make up only 20 percent of the population, but who account for over 40 percent of all consumer spending, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We stand ready to work with you to develop targeted marketing and branding strategies that will build a loyal and lasting relationship with those customers.

  • Get started: Unity Marketing’s vast library of syndicated market research studies, like our most recent “Luxury’s Got a Brand New Style” trend report which examines attitudes and motivations of affluents toward luxury (i.e. why they buy luxury), are low-cost ways for marketers to gain reliable research-based data and customer insights about specific consumer markets, including luxury, home, fashion, jewelry, travel, art and many more. And with Unity Marketing’s focus on the affluent consumer segment, you will be assured insights that apply to the best customer prospects for your category, whether you are selling to the masses or the ‘classes.’
  • Develop a system: Consumer insights isn’t a once and done effort, but takes on-going efforts to track and monitor brand connections with the target customer as he or she changes buying behavior or brand preferences. Unfortunately, one market research report isn’t going to give you on-going feedback on the results of your marketing efforts and whether your marketing messages are breaking through. Unity Marketing can help you develop a marketing research program that can provide on-going tracking data so that you continuously monitor the shifts and changes in your target market. For example, our Affluent Consumer Tracking Study (ACTS) gives marketers at the high-end of the market data about their customers buying behavior and consumer confidence and attitudes every three months. We also offer marketers a ‘lite’ subscription if they need to track only one product segment.
  • Intensify and focus: With experience in both collecting and using market research information and insights, Unity Marketing can help you not just in gathering consumer insights, but uncovering the nuggets that will yield the best return to marketers in strategies and tactics. Call me at 717.336.1600 or email for a confidential discussion of where the gaps are in your customer understanding and how Unity Marketing can bridge the gaps.
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