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From Mass Media to Micromedia
In "Gonzo Marketing," published in 2001, Locke describes how the new market is composed of an increasing number of small sites, or microsites. People are congregating, he says, not in "the huge aggregations demanded by traditional media-cum-marketing expectations, but in pockets, in ecological niches too small to attract the notice of the Eisners and the Murdochs."
And what the members of these new communities are attracted to, he says, are people who are knowledgeable and provide insights of value. "Websites that have genuine voice are where people are beginning to congregate online" as opposed to "ad-infested portals," says Locke. What these people like is not advertising, he says."It's voice."
These pockets, or microsites, Locke explains, comprise an important aggregate of micromedia, as opposed to mass media. Together their influence and buying power are having a profound effect on the marketplace.
"As Malcolm Gladwell demonstrated in The Tipping Point, little things can have disproportionately large consequences," Locke noted. Ultimately, says Locke, "An entirely new class of micromarkets - small, but growing fast - are forming around such micromedia sites today."
The Long Tail of the New Marketplace
Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired, picks up on the idea of micromarkets and elaborates on it in "The Long Tail, Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More," published in 2006.
Describing "The New Marketplace," Anderson argues that the mainstream "is shattering into a zillion different cultural shards," and that this fragmentation is reflected in the entertainment industry and our culture in general. We are no longer a culture dominated solely by big stars and smash hits, he says, rather a constellation of larger and smaller stars and hits within a variety of communities.
"The simple picture of the few hits that mattered and the everything else that didn't is now becoming a confusing mosaic of a million mini-markets and micro-stars," says Anderson. "Increasingly, the mass market is turning into a mass of niches."
While there remains a viable but shrinking mass market, there is a growing collection of micro-markets that in its aggregate is large and lucrative. "The one big growth area is the Web," says Anderson, "but it is an uncategorizable sea of destinations, each defying in its own way the conventional logic of media and marketing."
When you portray all of these small markets on a graph, the result is a long flat line that resembles a "long tale." Rather than a homogenous mass market, this market is comprised of numerous niches, categories, and subcategories.
The result is that more varieties of products and services are being made available to serve these micro-markets, including millions more movies, songs, books, and games. "Our world," says Anderson, " is being transformed by the Internet and the near limitless choice that it provides to the consumers; tomorrow's markets belong to those who can take advantage of this."
Sean Ellis describes how this trend affects the software industry, enabling customers to find specific solutions tailored for their needs vs. one-size-fits-all solutions. Says Ellis:
"In software, buyers no longer want mega-products that can do everything. If they have a problem, they Google for a solution and download a couple free trials of 'perfect fit solutions.' Research indicates that this is the case for buyers ranging from an individual consumer up to a large enterprise buyer….A good software strategy in a long tail world suggests breaking mega products into many micro products and finding all opportunities to market these micro products to active seekers."
New Modes, New Models
"What happens when people don't respond to the old messages anymore?...What happens when marketing changes and suddenly the rules are different?" asks Seth Godin in "Meatball Sundae."
Explaining how businesses can make the radical adaptations necessary to succeed in the new marketplace, Godin advises, "Here's the sea change. You have the chance to go from finding customers for your products (the meatball way) to a new way-finding products for your customers."
"New Marketing is exciting but it seems to work best for those who start from scratch, who build their foundation around the idea of their marketing," says Godin. "If your assets are synchronized with what you can do with New Marketing, you win."
Old marketing, says Godin, "is the act of interrupting masses of people with ads about average products." New marketing, he says, leverages scarce attention and creates interactions among communities with similar interests." In the new realm, "Marketers treat every interaction, product, service, and side effect as a form of media."
Marketers, Godin says, do this by telling stories. "We tell stories people want to hear and believe," says Godin. "We spread ideas."