Back to basics (and who’s in control?)

I’ve been quite fascinated by some of the blog reading I’ve been doing lateley, which has – again – got me thinking.  My inspiration this week comes from two people I’ve referenced in the past (David Meerman Scott and Seth Godin) as well as Charlene Li. 

Let me start off by saying I think there is real brilliance and power in “the basics”. 

When I started reading David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing & PR the concept of personas really hit home with me.  I know this concept has been talked about for a while now – persona is the new target audience we used to talk about.  In some ways it’s the same concept – and reinforces the importance of always starting with who your target audience is – but it takes this one step further and provides greater “segmentation” and detail which then allows a marketer to be much more effective.  If you’ve been reading my blogs, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of “basics” which stand the test of time. This is one basic that has perhaps evolved with time, yet still stands the test of time, in a more appropriate way.  I think the world of social media has really pushed this evolution – in large part because this new world is all about personal interaction and relationships. Yet at the same time, it’s a pretty basic tenet at play. 

The other reason why I’ve been intrigued by this persona concept is that it reinforces where you should always start as a marketer.  I know in my work with clients, I always start with two questions:  1. what are you trying to accomplish? – your objective – and 2) who is your target audience?  This persona/target audience point is so important because in the new world of social media – and arguably even before – this is where the power base shifted to…consumers.  They are the ones in control. They shape your brand. In some ways they “own” your brand. 

Then in reading Charlene Li’s blog posting “Can you control your customers?” this point about who’s in control came through loud and clear.  I wonder in some ways if some companies/brands are still in denial about the “new reality”, or if they actually believe they can try to take back control?  I think a more realistic reality is how they can effectively participate in this new world so that the end result is in their favour, even if they can’t control it.

To round things out – and since three is a good number for making a point! –Seth Godin’s recent blog posting entitled “8 questions and why” really hit the nail on the head and tied things together for me…back to basics + the consumer.  His blog was simply a list of 8 really basic questions (followed by the question “why” for each) any business should be asking itself.  I thought it was brilliant for two reasons. First, that his post would simply be this list – nothing more, no preamble, no summary – just the list, accompanied by its simple yet provocative headline.  Second, that his questions in and of themselves were brilliantly basic, grounding any business in what it needs to know and focus on to be successful – what should really matter…the basics.  And of course, he starts and finishes with a question about the consumer.  

So what do you think about “back to basics”, and who’s in control?

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