I’d argue that it wasn’t. Today is landscape means that it’s possible to tailor messages and communication to a more tightly defined segment. Effectively targeting an audience has always been the corner stone of efficient communications. Defining who a brand wants to talk to and what is relevant to them is key to resonance and building empathy with a brand or company.
When I was a student, segmentation was a key part of effective strategy development. In those days segmentation was one thing; taking the step from defining a credible audience to delivering effective messages to them was another. It was in my early career that I became a fan of database marketing. For me, direct marketing was an effective way of reaching those segments. Then, as now, the issue was budget and whether the benefits of a segmented media strategy outweighed the lower cost offered by mass media techniques. Mass media was, and still is, more wasteful, but by merging and relaxing segment boundaries it’s possible to argue a case for a more cost effective strategy.
Now the choices are similar, but broader in many respects. Critically the principle of beginning with the audience is still key. When developing communication strategies for clients we always start with the audience and work through the cycle:
Knowing who our customers are and being able to distinguish between frequent loyal customers, less frequent loyal customers and contrasting these groups with promiscuous consumers, competitor customers and new prospects and so on are all valid and important segmentation criteria. Digital engagement adds an interesting dimension to analysing customers and prospects.
Looking at web analytics to assess source of visits, time spent on particular pages and whether they chose to call the 0800 number (having been linked via a Google remarketing campaign), are all great insights. They enable us to build a better picture of our audiences and how they interact with us.
Old fashioned media planning has moved on
Old fashioned media planning has moved on. The coverage and frequency arguments still hold true, but developing the plan has become more interesting and wide ranging. We can see the type of people who engage with the brand in a social media sense. There are a wide range of tools which facilitate the analysis of social media platforms and trends amongst our core followers. We can see what they are saying about our brand and service delivery. We can see what kind of posts stimulates the most reaction or interest and watch how it is shared and discussed. All of a sudden the pub or garden fence conversations which shape opinion about brands are becoming open and transparent.
If complexity is defined by the number of different media types and slots available then yes it is more complex, but I would argue that in the right hands it is more effective.
Image courtesy - spoutloud on flickr