Editor's Notes: A New Way to Niche

Thorin McGee, Editor-in-Chief/Content Director, Target Marketing

I caught three good keynotes in late 2012: Chris Harris, editor-in-chief of Wired, at DMA2012; Frank Cooper, CMO global consumer engagement of PepsiCo, at ad:tech New York; and Brian Solis, principal analyst of Altimeter Group, at NCDM.

Each spoke about a new way of approaching business and marketing that is more collaborative with the target market. The reason they are all on this same wavelength is digital media has allowed niche consumers to band together in ways not possible before.

Sometimes that happens on the big social networks, other times it happens on site comments, message boards, YouTube channels and blogs—anywhere they can share what once would have been a lonely passion. As Harris put it, everyone sees a different Internet based on their personal interests.

Serving a niche is not new to direct marketers. Whether its high-end optics, Schuco toy cars, specialty cooking utensils or outdoor supplies, serving a niche is Direct Marketing 101. But Harris, Cooper, Solis and others are talking about a new approach to business and marketing that is more collaborative with your target market.

Harris spoke about long-tail data and how marketers should be analyzing it to find underserved niches and develop products for them. He said the data should determine what needs to be done, not the whims of the highest paid person in the room.

Cooper explained how PepsiCo allowed customers to design a new product with its “Dewmocracy” campaign, and crowd sourced some of the advertising for it. But more importantly, he described a way of doing business that was collaborative. To Harris, what it takes to make hit products and campaigns today is more honesty and transparency, which draws your niche to you along with all its feedback and excitement, and that leads to success.

Solis sees a deep, fundamental need for marketers to embrace “connected consumers,” bringing in everything you know about them in aggregate via Big Data and by interacting with individuals on social media. It’s not always an easy sell, and he spends much of his time on change management: “Why do I spend time on change management? Because of the politics involved in these new technologies.”

Are these opportunities for your business, too?

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.
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