I just finished reading Purple Cow by Seth Godin. It’s a short little book with a silly title but a big idea. As our consumer culture rapidly expanded in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s a fairly consistent approach to marketing developed. Create a good, solid product that appealed to a mass audience and then advertise, advertise, advertise. In those days people actually paid attention to TV, radio and newspaper advertising. Fewer products existed so being good was good enough. Once your product began selling you made small changes to tweek it over time while raking in the consumer’s cash.
Those days, for better or worse, are over. Today people are so inundated with advertising that many completely tune it out. Much of what we turn to for entertainment is advertising free (ipod vs. radio for music), has limited advertising (news on-line vs. newspaper) or allows us to opt out of advertising (TV shows on DVR or on-line.) The number of products consumers have to choose from has skyrocketed. Some of you remember when the choice in sneakers was Converse high or low top, in black or white. When we do choose a product, we now often expect it customized to meet our individual preferences and needs. I’m writing this post on a laptop that's not an off the shelf model designed for everyone, but made to my unique specifications.
For those who make products or offer services (like summer camp) the meaning of these changes is increasingly clear. Products or services need to be targeted to smaller groups with similar needs rather than standardized for the masses. Traditional mass media approaches to advertising don’t work. It’s now about reaching people who want to be reached by “liking” you on Facebook or following your Twitter feed. Most importantly, Godin says success today and in the future is about being remarkable. Not good, solid, safe, big, dependable…but remarkable. It’s about standing out to people who have an incredible number of choices. It’s being bold enough to capture the attention of people who have tuned out most advertising. It’s about leaving behind the one size fits all approach and honing in to meet people’s unique needs.
This revolution in consumerism and marketing creates some difficult questions for camps?
- How do we create a camp experience that stands out from the other options kids have?
- How do we tailor our experiences to meet camper's unique, individual needs?
- How do we market to people who tune out traditional marketing?
- How do we become remarkable rather than routine?