Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 31, 2010 1:48 PM

A Market Of One

Just because you do something (or don't do something) is no indication of how the market actually is and reacts.

You can sit here all day and lament at how bad Lady Gaga is, but you can't deny that not only is she a success, but she has a massive following. You can claim that a massive following has no intrinsic value and that many things that have mass appeal (like dancing and singing competitions on TV) aren't all that good, but the public speaks in very loud and clear terms. Your mediocrity is their deep passion.

Don't be a market of one.

I was in a meeting with a retailer discussing the merits of Social Media and Digital Marketing, when one of their executives interrupted me. This individual informed me that they had a panel of their customers with whom they often discussed trends with, and that one of those individuals didn't even have an email address. They had helped this person get set-up on email just so that they could stay connected. If their consumers weren't even on email, how would Social Media or Digital Marketing be able to save them? Statistically speaking, that unique individual should not be on their panel because they are not representative of the norm. Not engaging in Social Media and Digital Marketing because one person - an anomaly - made it on to their panel was (to me) a prime example of "a market of one." After all, if this person isn't even on email, maybe all of their consumers are not on email? Ludicrous... even more ludicrous because we have the data to prove them wrong. In fact, it wasn't even a small percentage... it was miniscule... almost to the point on non-existence. They were all on email and highly engaged online.

We all (often) act like a market of one.

If you ever say things like...

  • I would never order anything from an infomercial on TV.
  • I never click on ads in search engines.
  • I don't read the newspaper anymore.
  • I don't listen to the radio anymore.
  • Dancing With The Stars is the worst show on television.
  • I would never use something like Foursquare to check-in to a location.
  • I never read fiction.
  • My kids don't use email.
  • I would never clip out a coupon and bring it down to a store.

... these are all statements from a market of one... and you need to be cautious about this.

The truth is that we live in a very big and highly connected world. Just because you and all of your friends on Twitter don't do something, it doesn't mean that there's not a large segment of people who do. I don't enter contests... does that mean that my agency should never run a contest for a client? No chance. I realize that a personal statement like that is a "market of one," and that there are millions of people who love and actively enter contests on a regular and frequent basis. They work! The data doesn't lie. Just because you don't do something or because you're ahead of a curve (this is often the case with "early adopters"), it doesn't mean that it's not a viable marketing option.

Whenever you're in a brainstorm or discussing marketing with a client and/or peers, remember to never let a market of one potentially ruin a great idea... and don't be afraid to call them out either.

By Mitch Joel


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