What happens when marketers get naked?
Absolute Value: What Really Influences Customers in the Age of (Nearly) Perfect Information, is the answer to that question.
Stripped of their exclusive access to broadcast media, stripped of their information monopoly, stripped of their banner ads, stripped of their SEO tricks, marketers in 2014 have awakened to a new reality. Consumers have access such a diverse array of data that they can (if they choose) make much more informed purchasing decisions.
This book explores how this state of affairs came to be, how consumers are dealing with their access, and how marketers might still be able to add their voice to the mix.
ÂIn a world with improved access to high-quality information, more and more decisions will be based on absolute values, resulting in better choices overall.” Absolute Value, Simonson & Rosen
The Marketer is Being Stripped, Bit by Bit
Tools like positioning and persuasion are less effective because consumers can see behind the wizard curtain by reading blogs, talking to other consumers, and reading reviews.
The value of brand and loyalty is disappearing as consumers are able to rely on a huge amount of actual information from experts and weak-tie fellow consumers. Simonson & Rosen suggest that a consumer’s decision to buy is affected by a mix of three related sources: individual preferences, beliefs, and experiences (P); other people and information services (O); and marketers (M). Marketers need to be aware of where their audience lies on the POM continuum so that they can respond accordingly. Which information does your typical customer rely on most heavily?
The power of advertising has been undercut as well. There must be a shift away from random banner ads to get “top of mind” awareness, and toward ads that are closer to the decision point and provide actionable information to the person as they are about to buy. Top of mind ads are less effective because they get overwritten by other info that comes along in the noise stream.
Another tool in the marketing arsenal was the traditional funnel. There used to be a reliable, predictable path from awareness to action. The new consumer doesn’t care about the funnel. He/she will now often employ what Simonson & Rosen term “couch tracking,” accumulating lots of information over time, even before the need for a product is identified. Marketers need to focus more attention on the couch-trackers, who frequent online communities and forums as they have a certain product or brand “on their radar,” because they are likely to make a decision before marketers are even aware of them.
What Happens Now?
When power is taken away from the marketers, does it come at the expense of good business decisions? Will consumers use the big data available to them to support good decisions or will it lead to more irrationality as they choose the sources of data they want to use?
Will consumers with limited or no access to the additional data be more susceptible to manipulation because they don’t have access? Will marketers be hip to that and use it to their advantage?
Perhaps we will end up with “less sugar in our information diet” and “less sugarcoating” as real-world reviews and referrals take the place of rotating banner ads.
The release of this book could not be more timely. Within the conversations about big data, content shock, and influencer marketing, there must be a discussion of the absolute value proposition.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advance copy of this book free from Harper Business. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade CommissionÂs 16 CFR, Part 255: ÂGuides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.Â