The old way was to tell as many people as you could about your product or service. You would get it out in front of as many people and compete by having a perceived advantage on price or product.
Today is not about YOU broadcasting your story, its about having OTHERS broadcast your story.
What that means is that you need a message that is so unique and interesting that others are compelled to talk about it. In this way instead of mass marketing you target market to your best identifiable customer prospect and give them a story that want to share. This is the “Social” in social marketing. Now your BEST customer is selling for you, telling his sphere of influence YOUR story.
What is really different than mass marketing is that you are going after a much more specific audience and going deep.
We are not necessarily talking about fewer marketing impressions we are marketing to less, but more specific numbers, more often. (Reduced variety, increased frequency) The point is we are going deep instead of wide and saturating a better prospect with our message.
One could argue that this is a potentially risky proposition ,and they would be right! You see if your message is at least good and you mass market, you are bound to hit on some viable prospects. If you are targeting a very narrow audience then you had better be right on with the message and the audience. In other words they must be very precisely matched.
Think of a rifle vs. a shotgun. If you fire a shot gun anything in the general direction you aim will get hit with some buckshot. When you fire a rifle your shot is only going to one place, anything a few inches to the right, left, above or below will not be impacted. So why do we even have rifles you may ask? Well a rifle concentrates its force in one very specific place and has a tremendous impact. You generally hit only what you aim at. A shot gun has a lot less impact (especially at distance) and also affects things that are not your primary target. In advertising collateral damage costs you money.
Let’s say you manufacture and sell unicycles. The old way was to mass market to people who frequented bikes shops (virtual and brick and mortar apply). You are sure to hit some people interested in a unicycle but that would be 1 out of how many?
What if you could take that same marketing effort and get it to the actual unicycle riders and then give them a compelling story that that we excited to share? Who would they share it with? Someone like themselves maybe? Do you think they hang out with other unicycle owners or those aspiring to learn because of their relationship with that person?
The danger to this is that if you turn from the mass market and don’t get your target right you would be less effective. Consider is you tried to go specific and deep with your message and hit the riders of tandem bikes? Arguably a unique and specific sub market of bicycles and cyclists but so completely different than a unicycle. It would not matter how good you story was and if fact, if they were compelled to share it with everyone they knew, it would not do much for unicycle sales, would it?
Bottom line? Well if you are getting all the customers you want then please don’t make any drastic changes! If however you could use more, think about who the most passionate prospects would be for your product or service. Who, if satisfied, would shout from the rooftops the value of your product? Now find a campaign to reach them and create your new social sales force.