The world of marketing and business is markedly different in the 21st century than the preceding centuries since the rise of modern capitalism. While the 20th century was defined by large corporate behemoths with huge bureaucracies, today’s world is defined by small, lean and hungry groups of individuals—also known as start-ups. Nearly all of the change and innovation which more and more defines our world stems from small organizations which often then try to hold on to that smallness-culture should they start to grow.
Put generally, there has been a broad shift (even with older, larger companies) from a product-centric mentality to a customer-centric mentality. And this is great news for you and me. Great because companies expend their effort on building products that solve a specific problem for a specific demographic of people. Though given success this may evolve, companies now think smaller which means that my needs and your needs are more precisely and meticulously met.
Necessary for this shift in mentality is a shift in the idea of product market fit and marketing. Companies spend a lot of time and effort to find their small, somewhat niche market. They create their product or service in a way which will help that market and create a group of dedicated core supporters, and then market the product as necessary and expand to new markets from there.
We are quickly exiting the days of mass, untargeted, and largely blind advertising campaigns and shifting towards products like Facebook and Uber which started by largely marketing themselves—using that core group of supporters to then spread then spread the product through their network of friends and family—or using marketing techniques whose effectiveness can be directly measured and analyzed. You can’t really tell how effective a million dollar TV ad is but you can exactly tell how many referrals you get from existing customers, how many shares and likes your content blog post gets, or how much your Kickstarter campaign makes.
These types of customer-centric, growth hack and content marketing are some of the things constantly making our world a better place to live. Instead of building products that the company likes, hoping people will need/like/want it, and then using marketing to explain to potential buyers why they should need/like/want it, new methods create a product directly suited to us, or to a specific, given demographic. Our world is made easier because companies now have the ability and the drive to seek me out if they believe I fit their product’s desired demographic. And in addition to this, we have individuals and companies constantly offering us useful information through their content whether we are customers or not.
This is why I don’t mind Facebook or Google collecting data about me to better position advertisements or if companies have blogs with content ads. I want companies that have products I may want to be able to find me, and if I’m reading a content ad article, then I am doing so by virtue of being interested in that topic and possibly interested in the product or service. In short, I want companies better able to make money off me.
People often get annoyed at company data collection or content ads but that is only because they think companies are just trying to suck another buck out of them. What they fail to realize is that if a company is better able to make money off you you are better able to get things you need or want. Like all things on a free market, the benefit is mutual and marketing is the method by which companies are able to best place their product and get you the things you need and want.
Though perhaps not an utter, complete black and white shift, the business world today has grown and is growing more specific. This is especially true of the tech world—but as we see with companies like Uber and Amazon, the “tech” world increasing spills over into other, traditionally non-tech industries. The internet allows companies to more easily and exactly find and connect with desired demographics, and more precisely market their products to people who they know need it. This customer-centricity and the growth of content marketing produces a tremendous amount of value for both consumers and producers and we are all better off because of it.