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Is Mass Marketing Dead?

Could it be that mass marketing is dead? It would certainly appear so with the desperate attempts by behemoths like McDonalds, Coke, and Nike to capture our attention with flashy commercials and endless giveaways replica watches uk. But, if mass marketing isn’t dead, it’s surely on its last leg.

Not long ago, it was common for start-ups to blow their entire advertising budgets on one Super Bowl commercial. Nowadays, all a company needs to gain exposure to millions of potential customers is their product in the hands of the right celebrity replica breitling. Just look at how much free advertising T-Mobile got for its Sidekick cellular phone after Paris Hilton had hers hacked into recently.

Part of mass marketing’s problem is that it’s facing increasing competition for consumers’ limited attention. With the proliferation of media, marketing is increasingly being segmented into smaller groups. In the past, families would sit around a television starving for content while marketers dished out an endless supply of commercials. Today, families are on the go and fending off “content” whether it is from telemarketers, popups, spam, spyware, etc. No longer can businesses afford to blindly send large volumes of the same message to unqualified recipients. Nor can they continue to treat all consumers the same.

As the old way of thinking about how to market to consumers becomes obsolete, innovators like Susan Magrino, CEO of Susan Magrino Agency (SMA) are stepping in to offer companies a better marketing alternative.
Susan Magrino Agency is a marketing-based public relations firm founded in 1992. Magrino launched SMA after a successful nine-year career at Crown Publishing. Initially specializing in public relations for publishing and lifestyle clients, SMA quickly expanded into brand development for a laundry list of clients in industries such as travel, beauty, broadcast, and restaurants. The famed publicist of Martha Stewart, Magrino has witnessed first hand the evolution of mass marketing.

“Marketing is moving towards public relations,” proclaims Magrino, “because the media has so much power.” Magrino points to the Oscars, during which companies set up “Oscar Suites” where stylist could pick up freebies for their celebrity clients.

“Companies were hoping that the right star would wear their product on the red carpet and a photo of the celebrity and product together would appear in In Style magazine, US Weekly magazine, or on Entertainment Tonight, resulting in millions of dollars worth of free publicity,” explained Magrino.

But the Oscars are not the only place where product placements are having an impact. Take for instance the television series Sex in the City, and its fashionista star Kerry Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) who had the ability to move the fashion markets with the simple mention of a designer’s name. Today, celebrities and other tastemakers are the influencers that are driving brand awareness and usage.

As consumers grow more weary of the media barrage, they are paying more attention to the advice and opinions of people they trust. More and more, companies are realizing this trend and are turning to firms like SMA for help with marketing their products and services to tastemakers. For example, in 1998 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide came to SMA for help with developing its new W Hotels brand. SMA was given the challenge of creating a bold and innovative way to educate the media and the public on the new brand as well as to generate as much excitement as possible around it.

SMA worked with Starwood Design Group (SDG), a team specifically formed to oversee the design aspects of the hotels, to formulate all components of the W brand from the ground up. “In tandem with SDG, we created a teaser campaign which was a very stylish-looking wooden book that had concept cards inside and pictures of what W Hotel was going to be about,” said Magrino. “The teasers were sent to a “Big-Mouth List” of tastemakers that influence consumer taste from New York to San Francisco,” Magrino elaborated. The resulting W Hotel launch was hailed by Business Week magazine as one of the industry’s most successful hotel launches.

Another example is SMA’s work for Moet & Chandon in the fall of 2004 to revitalize the Moet & Chandon brand as a status symbol of nightlife. SMA dreamed up a concept called the “Moet M Lounge” program. The program was designed to capitalize on the trend of converting vacant storefront spaces into usable short-term spaces. For one week in each of its four major markets, SMA converted vacant storefronts into hip lounges that exposed the invited crowds of tastemakers to Moet & Chandon’s three primary labels.

At this year’s Personalization Summit (a premier event for advanced marketing professionals on personalization and CRM technologies and strategies), Steven Snyder, CEO of Net Perceptions, proclaimed that “mass marketing is dead.” A McKinsey Company report indicating that two-thirds of sales of U.S. consumer goods are influenced by word-of-mouth and an ASW study suggesting that 10 percent of Americans hold the power to influence the habits of the other 90 percent, seem to support Snyder’s claim.

If companies are holding on to the belief that public relation firms are only good at creating initial buzz, which can be fleeting, they are missing out on the bigger opportunity. In many cases, public relation firms like SMA are the gatekeepers to tastemakers, who are the foundation of a sustainable, powerful – and far more credible – word-of-mouth campaign driven by influencers.

March 14, 2005
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