Back to the Future

Those who have heard me speak over the years know that I describe the trend towards 1-1 marketing and providing customized solutions for customers as a “back to the future” process. Before the industrial revolution virtually everything was custom made to order for the buyer (except probably for crops and farm animals). The advent of the industrial revolution and the tremendous cost reductions available from mass-manufacturing caused marketers to believe there was a mass-market, when in fact no such market has ever existed. People were just “bribed” by much lower prices to accept less than they actually wanted. (And to be fair, some things were probably of consistently better quality when mass manufactured.)

cuteHowever, as technology and delivery systems have improved, 1-1 marketing has become more in vogue. This “fad” comes in and out of favor as it has often been over-hyped or over-promised (no surprise there). But useful and valuable instances of it continue to appear. I just ran across another one that seems pretty cool to me: Zazzle.

They make customizable products of all kids from sneakers to mugs to Barbie dolls. And they have built a business model to allow companies to work with them to produce their own customizable products. And with new technologies coming online, including conductive inks, more is likely to amaze us in the future.

How is your company moving towards a more 1-1 relationship with your customers? How could it do more?


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