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Lucy Griffiths

How to Avoid the Fate of Woolworths

6th Mar 2009 Content Marketing 2 minutes to read

Recently the Government announced their plan that every home in the UK would have broadband by 2012. By that date, marketing experts project that the Internet will have overtaken all other forms as the dominant advertising source in the market. The result is that any retailer that doesn’t adjust their approach to the changing marketplace will sink – like Woolworths.

The marketplace has already changed, the rules have changed and companies that do not rethink their approach to marketing will simply disappear. The traditional approach to marketing is to sell an average product to the average person through mass marketing. It requires huge amounts of money aimed at interrupting enough people with regularly placed television, radio and newspaper adverts. It’s a numbers game, interrupt enough people often enough and they’ll buy your product. (You hope!)

But times have changed. Companies that have embraced the new marketing approaches are succeeding because their attitude to business has changed too. The entire company has embraced the change in the marketplace. The market doesn’t wait, it wants it right now. The market wants specifically what they came looking for, and if you spam them with general adverts on television or email, they’ll fast forward or press delete.

Let’s look at two old marketing approaches:

Take Direct Mail Marketing. Imagine you send out a marketing letter to all of the people on your mailing list in London. Paper, envelope, printing, and postage – all costs. Statistically, you will get a 1% response rate. So oftentimes, your sales division is working hard to cover the costs of marketing to 1% of your customers.

Take television advertising. The most expensive form of old-style advertising. Its aim is to interrupt and influence people’s future decision-making. Yet, research shows that only 7% of people could remember ads and which company they were for. Well, 7% is better than 1%, but at what cost?

Now consider the new approach to marketing, online or Internet marketing. What’s so good about it? It’s cheap, it’s quick and it’s without boundaries. These days people want to pay less and they want what they’re looking for immediately. If I want to purchase some vitamins, I want them now. So I go online, read about them, see who has the best brands at the best prices, and order them so that I have them tomorrow. People go from interest to ownership, prospect to customer within minutes. You’ve cut out time for indecision, you’ve cut out time to forget the advert and you’ve cut out the fast forward button.

The distance between company and consumer has reduced, the distance between advert and action has been compacted – speed has become essential. BUT – speed means we’re less patient. Tell us what we want to know now, or risk deletion, so when someone makes it to your website, or reads your permission-given email, you better be prepared, or you’re going in the trash.

Woolworths are re-emerging; they’re going to operate as an online store. But if Woolworths try to run their new business using their old business marketing tactics, mark our words, they won’t last long.

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