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Should You Sell to the Crowd?

Recently, the pop-band U2 came out with a new – and in my opinion – very good album.  A radio mainstay, a few of the new songs got some play time on local radio stations.

But soon, it faded.  Despite a library of very good, recent material, With or Without You, Pride in the Name of Love, and New Year’s Day soon came back to dominate.

So it is with bands like Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Rush, or Foo Fighters.  They have their classics – the hits the “crowd” has come to know and love.

Just who is the crowd?

In marketing terms, the crowd is the mass audience.  The major segment that will always choose fast-food cheeseburgers over gourmet baguettes.  That will see the movie but not read the book.  That waits in line because social proof convinced them that what’s popular must be what’s best.

The crowd is alluring in sales, because that’s where the big money is.  But in ecommerce, is it worth targeting the crowd?

Times Are Changing

Let’s take our first example:  songs played on the radio.  I still listen to radio – in my 2005 Honda.  Elsewhere, when I want to hear anything by U2, I go on Spotify and listen to whatever song I’m in the mood for.  Or I jump on YouTube and watch a Rush concert video of a song that – just a few years ago – I thought I’d never see as a live performance.

The crowd is increasingly fragmented.  Where there was once a bell curve with the crowd in the middle, now we have fragmented, individualized audiences populating the outside of the curve.

It’s internet empowerment at work.  Google talks about in terms of micro-moments.  With mobile devices, people move from the moment a need becomes active to searching for help without interlude.  Far from waiting around for a commercial, when somebody needs a new hair dryer or wants to check reviews on similar products, they do it on the spot.

Today, there is more risk than ever in trying to target the crowd.  It’s even arguable that because of the fractured consumer journey, there is no crowd to target.  You have to meet consumers with specific material that matches the need they have at that moment.

Create Your Own Crowd

Overtime, however, you want to create your own crowd.  Connect with an audience that believes what you believe.  Create relationships that anticipate your crowds needs and meet them first.

The crowd is still there, though.  Go to a U2 concert and With or Without You will still get the crowd up – it’s the song everybody knows.  People like what’s familiar, easy, cheap, fun, and simple.

But from an ecommerce marketing perspective, this group lives in generalizations.  Their needs are too broad to target through advertising.

Start with the micro – the individual – and work towards your crowd.  Do the other way around with today’s Tom Sawyer, and you’ll be shouting to a room full of empty seats.