Sure, Seth Godin owns the market on viral marketing. He believes that targeting the masses is a waste. I don’t disagree that targeting marketing and going after niches is not a good approach, but big national campaigns still work.
Here are some recent examples:
1. Cars for clunkers – If it wasn’t on a television commercial or in a major media story how else would you have known about it? Because it was circulating in so many commercials the media picked it up and then you started to talk about it with people. Big marketing worked.
2. The Chevy Equinox. GM is touting this SUV as getting the best gas mileage in the industry. Guess what? I mentioned recently my love for the Audi and my hopes for buying one soon, but zero percent financing and great gas mileage meant that I was going to at least test drive it. How did I hear about it? Television commercials. And guess what, after a week trying to test drive an Equinox I cannot find one within 50 miles of my house. Sold out. Guess everyone else heard about it too.
Word of mouth and viral marketing still can work, but advertising to the masses isn’t dead. It’s going through a renaissance. That renaissance should also include serious looks at ROI and analyitics. My favorite book on the subject is “What Sticks: Why Most Advertising Fails and How to Guarantee Yours Succeeds.”