Mark Schaefer posted an excellent article this morning: Your 2012 Marketing Plan: Tell Me What to Do. 2012 is the Year of More (credit to Mitch Joel), but we are all overwhelmed by more. The opportunity for marketers is to enable less, in the face of the crushing volume of more. If you haven’t already, go read Mark’s post.
I love the thought, but it isn’t that simple. Mark isn’t going to write 500 posts this year and publish three books (or at least I hope not!). He isn’t creating more, and he shouldn’t necessarily turn around and create less. Mark’s opportunity, and the opportunity for every marketer, is to become one of the few that we, the audience, turn to.
Many marketers are simplifying, making messages easier to quickly grasp and consume. On websites, they are improving information architecture to make the content, information and products they offer easier to find. Recommendation engines allow companies to surface the best product or information, based on your history, profile and activity from other customers or visitors.
Individual marketers, companies or technologies are not creating the Year of More. I believe it is the Year of More for two reasons.
The Roots of the Year of More
1. More voices, more choices. Everyone wants a piece of the pie that only a handful of companies competed for a few years ago. Yes, each may be shouting a little bit louder now, but what makes it dizzying is 12,000, not just 12, companies shouting to be heard. Every new social network, gadget, movie or TV show is trying to get our attention.
Many smaller marketers have definitely found their voice and even individuals like me (with no associated company) are adding to the crushing number of voices.
2. Our refusal to be content. We cannot buy something without price checking it thoroughly. Amazon Marketplace and Google Shopping aren’t enough, we need to check deal sites, forums, EBay and anything else Google can turn up.
We agonize over which smartphone to purchase (yes, that was me a year ago). Not because we are trying to figure out which one will meet our needs, but because we are not satisfied with simply getting what meets our needs and fits our budget. We must assess all of the choices, and be confident we are making the best choice.
Can marketers help? Yes, they can, but it isn’t easy.
A Hypothetical Scenario
Consider making the following changes to how you buy products online.
- Only research and purchase products online through Amazon. Do no consider any other sellers or information sources.
- Only research or look for products to meet a specific need or want you had already identified.
- Limit your time to 15 minutes for each purchase.
If you made these changes, you would have the Year of Less in 2012 in this one part of your life. You can make these changes today, without any change in Amazon’s marketing.
You would need to accept you are getting the best overall outcome, despite possibly getting the second-best product, with less stress over the decision made and more time available for the things that are truly important to you. It seems like a set of restrictions you would be unwilling to accept, yet it grants you other more valuable freedoms.
The Opportunity for Marketers
We are overwhelmed by the voices and choices. Become one of the few we actively seek out. Not by offering less, but by consistently meeting our needs.
By consistently winning our business and our attention after we sift through all of the competing opportunities, you will become one of the few we look to, rather than one of the many we stumble across.
Are you planning to personally simplify in this Year of More (the Amazon scenario above is personally appealing to me), or how can you as a marketer help your customers to simplify? Share your comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).