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Marketing 3.0

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Over the years, I think I have tossed hundreds of pounds of junk mail into the recycling bin. When my Labrador brings the local paper to the front door in the morning (yes, I actually trained her to do that), inevitably there are numerous inserts promoting used cars or underwear that spill out onto the floor as I reach for the sports section. Then, when I power up my iPad (before my kids can steal it from me to play Angry Birds), I am greeted with two pop-ups serving irrelevant daily deals, which I instinctively close without reading. The only time I might actually pay attention is when a friend emails or pings me via Facebook on a cool offer (Rally Car Racing lessons? Okay, now we’re talking). Most marketing emails that somehow slip through my spam filter also go unopened and unread, as I search for the email I really want to see: that my fantasy football trade was accepted (Tony Romo really is a horrible fantasy QB). The mail, the inserts, the pop-ups, the emails — they have all become nuisances and background noise.

So is marketing dead? I hope not, because I’m basically a marketing guy. But I think classic “segmentation” based marketing is broken. We are all individuals with unique needs. And as much as marketers try, it’s hard to put us into “catch all” segments or clusters. As a former airline marketing VP, I have been part of the problem: so feel free to blame me first. We used to celebrate a 0.25% response rate to inserts in our airline credit card mailings. Really? So 99.75% of the people didn’t care about our offer. A 1% click-through on a keyword ad gets celebrated, too. So why do marketers celebrate irrelevance? Because the math still pens out: you can make money in the short term on a 0.25% response rate or a 1% click through rate. But what’s the long term cost? More important, what’s the lost opportunity?

For the past couple of...

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