I've been thinking a lot about long-term changes since I wrote about LocalPeople and hyperlocal journalism a few days ago. I do see the future of journalism in its ability to drill deeply into topical and geographic niches. But as I step back, I think the same is true for most large organizations, particularly in business.
This is a reversal of direction, for decades, actually hundreds of years, communicators, branders, merchants, advertisers, elected officials, fund raisers have all moved toward bigger. Technology kept assisting organizations to reach more and more people at lower cost per person.
The golden era of physical newspapers and broadcast flourished for a very long time and it's long, steady decline started in the 70s did not pose much of a threat until the 90s and has only become clearly unstoppable for the last three or four years.
What really happened was that first technology let merchandising scale until it became massive, and simultaneously annoying and ineffective. It allowed, almost required, merchants to keep getting bigger.
Now the reverse is coming to pass. Global companies are discovering that technology is allowing them to get more personal, more interactive and more efficient by sing social media to talk with people one at a time.
This is absolutely baffling to many traditional mass merchants. They would prefer to do what they have always done in a new channel. They keep trying and it very rarely seems to work.
People just don't like being marketed to. They would prefer talking. They trust recommendations from peers more than ads. This has probably been always true for the most part. But now we have tools that let us get recommendations on what to buy,listen to, watch from each other and we trust real humans rather than faces on pages or screens.
After decades of learning to think really, really big, survival now requires brand people, advertisers, marketers, politicians, fund raisers to think really small. The entire world is becoming a micro market. We are self-organizing into topical niches. We decide about purchases in conversations that feel more like we are chatting over a backyard fence than listening to voices that sound like they emulate from stadium public address systems.
We have entered into an era of micro marketing, of virtual one-on-ones. Platforms like Twitter allow each of us to have lots of such conversations when we wish to. If we are part of a huge company than many of us can talk to many more.
Social networks let single voices carry fast and far. We have entered into something new and different. Marketers need to understand the dynamic of hyperlocal micro markets and they have the tools to address them massively.
This is mass micro marketing and it turns market strategist minds upside down and inside out, or so it seems to me.