The social web literally turns things upside down, inverting the marketing triangle.
Historic marketing is built on the premise that the market is too large to research and analyse in anything other than broad and statistical terms.
Marketers, in essence, take soundings and surveys, and extrapolate.
Past consumer behaviour is a marker for future behaviour.
Rules (sometimes of thumb, sometimes more exact) about returns on investment drive the front-end marketing engine, especially when it comes to product development, marketing communications, positioning and public relations.
The result? Define messages, product differentiation and market position based on a consolidated view (hopefully a best-possible view) of the target consumer.
The marketing triangle attempts to catch the individual’s attention (better-still, hopes to meet their demands) with a very large spray of marketing.
Even today, with digital and web-based marketing techniques, the statistical approach prevails. Yahoo! and Google were built on this premise. There’s one fundamental flaw, though, with a statistical approach: that my browsing or buying history must necessarily (absolutely) indicate what I might do next.
The social web blows this marketing triangle apart and reassembles it facing a new direction so that markets and businesses can now see what individuals are actually saying.
The marketing power of the social web comes from two fundamentals: individuals are making their comments on their terms, and they can be analysed and mapped as individuals, not groups or statistically meaningful aggregations.
In product development, marketing communications, positioning and public relations terms, you now craft many messages, around subtly nuanced positions derived from a set of core value propositions, and deliver them to the individual.
And you have the feedback mechanism in place to see how they respond. In real-time.
Supported by new tools designed to analyse and map individuals to existing data, that can plug the social web into existing operations, the marketing disciplines of product development, ROI measurement, positioning, message and content creation, and customer service remain in place.
They just now point in the right direction.