Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, And Others Chart The Demise of Mass Marketing

By April 26, 2012

Let’s face it, the primary reason you go to a conference named The Art of Marketing is to hear provocative ideas like the one in this article’s title. In the process, you’re presented with some compelling stats, sexy visuals, humorous anecdotes, and memorable quotes from some of the brightest, most charismatic speakers of this generation – all of which turns out to be a pretty damn good time. Afterward, you attempt to figure out how those concepts can be applied to improve the way your company does business.

But the demise of mass marketing, one of the common themes touched on throughout the day by speakers Avinash Kaushik, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Mitch Joel, is not an easy pill to swallow for most, let alone one that can be applied without severe pain. Sadly though, all four make a pretty good case for fundamentally changing the way businesses view marketing “en masse.”

Avinash Kaushik

The end of mass marketing rhetoric started with Avinash Kaushik’s talk. A Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google and author of Web Analytics 2.0, Avinash knows a thing or two about disruptive media and the way marketers can use data to serve the needs of individual consumers. “51 years of print advertising revenue was lost in the last 8,” and the same will happen to TV, he surmised.

But all is not lost, digital media comes equipped with tools that allow marketers to pinpoint their messages to the right audience at their exact point in the purchase funnel, eliminating the need to focus on metrics that only demonstrate mass reach. Or as Kaushik puts it: ” Clicks, Impressions, Visits and Page Views, Video Views, Followers/Fans/Likes are garbage. Those are not true measures of influence.”

Seth Godin

Next up was the legendary marketing author Seth Godin, whose recent book We Are All Weird was handed out at the beginning of the conference. In that book, and throughout most of his talk, Godin hammers on the fact that the world is increasingly embracing individuality and that now, people’s interests fall more into the category of “weird” than they do “normal.”

From a marketer’s point of view, that means brands need to embrace “tribes” of consumers, and in some cases try to lead or even start them, instead of focusing on generic messages designed for a mass audience. At one point, Godin turned to the crowd of marketers and asked, “Who are the groups of people that are waiting for you to lead them?”

Gary Vaynerchuk

Following Godin was the anti-hero of social media marketing, Gary Vaynerchuk. With his straight-forward, foul-mouthed, no-Powerpoint delivery, Vaynerchuk does a fantastic job of getting a room full of suit-wearing marketers riled up. His successful life story of emigrating to the US from Soviet Russia, to chipping ice in the basement of his father’s liquor store, to running an extremely successful online wine business, to now bidding to own the New York Jets football franchise is entirely due one simple piece of self-guided marketing advice: connecting with your consumer on a one-to-one basis will build trust and ensure long-term success.

Of course, social media is Vaynerchuk’s weapon of choice for enabling this one-to-one connection.  Towards the end of his talk, Vaynerchuk pleaded to the audience that instead of spending $3 million on a 30 second Super Bowl Ad, marketers should be investing that money in creating social media jobs that allow a one-to-one connection strategy to achieve “scale.”

Mitch Joel

And lastly, critically acclaimed author Mitch Joel took the stage to be, as he put it, “the last balding white guy to yell at you for the day.”  Joel helped drive home the notion that marketers need to create direct relationships with their consumers through “having sex with data” and understanding the active vs passive audience of the medium you’re using to get your message across.

For instance, Joel lauded the fact that “banner ads don’t work because it’s putting passive advertising into an active medium.”  One of the best ways to create a relationship with your audience, he went on to say, is by creating a product that offers true value to their lives.  The shining example given was Charmin’s ‘Sit or Squat’ application that helps smartphone users find the cleanest bathroom near their location.  There’s no better way to make a direct connection with your consumer than helping them poop comfortably!

All in all, the folks over at The Art of Marketing put on an extremely entertaining and worthwhile event backed by an absolutely all-star lineup.  Each of these speakers had close to an hour to speak, so plotting the demise of mass marketing was certainly not their only message.  I implore you to become more familiar with them all, regardless of your interest (or dis-interest as it may be) of marketing specifically, as each is quite charming and extremely brilliant.  Brilliant marketing can definitely be seen as an artform and, frankly, it can also be a lot of fun!

PS – Tim Schraeder, who I’ve just now come to follow on Twitter, has an amazing recap of every…single…moment of the conference.  This is some extremely impressive stuff, I had to give the guy props.  This is what you call hustle!