Your Core Customers Are Everything

Mass marketing. That’s our game. But it’s a game with fewer fans in seats today. Those fans have wandered off to other more intimate settings. They may never come back.
The New York Times shows us one company coming to grips with these new terms and how it is adjusting itself.

“Mass for us is a business that doesn’t work,” said Tom Ascheim, Newsweek’s chief executive. “Wish it did, but it doesn’t. We did it for a long time, successfully, but we can’t anymore.”
He says the magazine has a core of 1.2 million subscribers who are its best-educated, most avid consumers of news, and who have higher incomes than the average reader.
“We would like to build our business around these people and grow that group slightly,” he said. “These are our best customers. They are our best renewers, and they pay the most.”

The article says Newsweek is changing its look, its content and its attitude. What marketing organizations are mirroring this radical restructuring? Is there one that we can name? Or are marcom execs slow to realize what’s up in Consumerland?
I think we’re in a situation where some things stay the same. For instance, people consume McDonald’s hamburgers pretty much the way they always have. But people do NOT consume other staples–cars, homes, vacations, entertainment, clothes, etc.–in the same way, and they sure as hell don’t consume media like they once did.
Here’s a big question…is this trend toward smaller markets a good thing? I suppose it depends who you ask. I like it. These smaller markets are based on common interest, on shared passions. I prefer to develop content and marketing communications for people who are already interested. You can go much deeper and provide more value that way.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.