Thinking Beyond the Pale at ThinkCo

The IMC class  participates in an internal discussion forum where they can write about what they are learning in the program. They are encouraged to connect the dots between the courses they study or to reflect on what they are learning.

The following two guest posts come from that discussion forum and they each describe a speaker’s presentation at a conference they attended on their ‘day off’ from classes.

To the local K-W business community – this is a sampling of writing from of a great class of future integrated marketing professionals. Thinking you may need to hire come April 2014??

This submission was written by Sarah Rodrigues, IMC 2014 candidate.

At the ThinkCo Marketing Conference on November 4, 2013, Glen Drummond (Chief Innovation Officer, Quarry Integrated Communications) spoke about the importance of target marketing, and the idea of “thinking beyond the pale” when it comes to defining the target market.

Glen mentioned the “prototype effect”; that is, for every category our brain insists that a particular example is presented as “better” than others, which pressures us toward certain prototypes. Relating to target market, this is a problem because it means marketers will view their target as something, when in fact it could be something else. He referred to this as the “shadow segment.” This is a segment that, though it may be a profitable or innovative market, remais invisible due to the organization’s current market segmentation model. These shadow segments have low cognitive status for the marketers, and so marketers d a poor job of anticipating the wants and needs of these groups or communicating with them.

The true market innovators are those who can look outside the bounded space we call a market; consumers are rewarding superior customer insight. The market is not a bounded space; it is often based on a lot of shared assumptions. True innovators need to ask, what are the real differences in the marketplace. The field of experience for your product is broader than your customer base, and the culture of your industry. Recognizing those shadow segments can be extremely profitable.

We can easily measure tangible differences; demographics, for example. Glen suggests, however, that demographics enjoy an overblown cognitive status; they are rarely the driving force in making purchases. Studying demographics alone, or giving them preference over attitudinal and behavioural differences, often results in the same predictable segmentation your competitors are using.

Strategic segmentation considers the shadow segments, as well as the tensions in motivations that exist in making decisions. Companies have to recognize that it is when motivations are in conflict that buying behaviour is most relevant. You can predict how people trade off and make decisions, and present them with a solution that satisfies the conflict.

Deographics, personas, and broad segmentation are tools, but should not be the only thing that drives segmentation. Recognizing the customers that are out there, but beyond the pale, will give your company a competitive advantage, and help you serve your broad, unbounded market much better.

Philosophy in Marketing

This submission was written by Emily Cunha, IMC 2014 candidate.

 I was at the Thinkco Marketing Conference this week. Some very interesting speakers shared their thoughts on the industry, trends, and at least one even sneaked in some philosophy, which surprised me. Glen Drummond of Quarry Integrated Communications dove into the idea of content marketing. He asked, if content is what’s inside, then what is the container? Silence all around. He also said that before we get to marketing we must deal with the “category” and the “prototype.”

We were to imagine a viking in our minds. Then he asked about what that viking looked like in our minds. Was the viking a man or a woman? Was the viking farming? Was the viking a child? Of course all these types of vikings existed, and more, but they’re not the type of viking that most people will think of upon being asked to imagine a viking. The image of a viking has been stereotyped, and a legitimate question is do we treat customers as categories like vikings?

A “shadow segment” can emerge due to categorical models that overlook significant outliers. Important niche markets can be unwittingly neglected, voiding the competitive advantage for a company. By failing to recognize such a market, we lose the opportunity to discover how to meet the needs of these ambiguous groups.

Drummond spoke of so much more. I have more notes from him than any other speaker, but I’m drawn to philosophical discourse. It’s something that didn’t seem relevant to marketing, at least not on the surface. I’m glad to know there’s a place for philosophy in marketing.

 One final thought I’ll share from this speaker is an expression he discussed, “beyond the pale.” In the middle ages, the vikings recognized a border they called the pale, beyond which they generally didn’t go because there were barbarians there. We tend to think of vikings as perpetrators, but close to their homes, near their families, and in their society, they viewed themselves as civilized and the barbarians as threatening. This was a great way to acknowledge the pitfalls of stereotyping, narrowly categorizing, and negating anomalistic, yet critical, markets. People are always much more than one thing.


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