When n = 1

Filed in Blog, Customer Experience, Guest Blog by on December 18, 2015
When n = 1

We are excited to share this guest post by Steve Dennis.

I see dead marketing.

Marketing strategies rooted in average products for average people. Campaigns that haven’t answered the fundamental question: “who’s this for?” Promotions desperately (and pointlessly) trying to out-Amazon Amazon. Programs that reek of me-too-ness. Efforts that have no chance of being a strong signal amidst the noise.

It’s never been a good idea to promulgate the undifferentiated, the uninteresting, the irrelevant. But today that nonsense will get you killed.

When the power has shifted to the consumer, when there is essentially no scarcity of product, information and access, when top-line growth must increasingly come from stealing market share, what once seemed like the safe path is anything but. One-size-fits all approaches are dying.

“N = everybody marketing”–i.e. the mass marketing that is the centerpiece of most marketers plans and the overwhelming consumer of their budgets–has the advantage of being efficient and comparatively easy to execute. It also has the pesky little problem of not working very well, if at all.

If you have not embraced a treat different customers differently philosophy, the odds are pretty good that you are falling behind. And every day that you procrastinate it only gets worse.

“But investing in mass-customization and personalization is really hard” I hear you say. Perhaps. But what’s hardest of all is getting fired or having your company go out of business completely because you fail to change.

True “n = 1 marketing” may be unachievable in each and every circumstance for many brands. But in a world where mass is ending and the power of the individual and the tribe is rising, where being intensely relevant and remarkable is the ONLY thing that has a chance of making an impact, for me, it’s pretty clear in which direction you should be heading.

Oh, and I’d hurry if I were you.


Steve Dennis is a strategic advisor, keynote speaker and blogger/writer on retail innovation, omni-channel growth and marketing personalization.

As President & Founder of SageBerry Consulting he helps retail and luxury industry clients accelerate their growth and become more customer-centric.

Prior to SageBerry, Steve was Senior Vice President, Strategy & Multichannel Marketing for the Neiman Marcus Group where he drove major growth initiatives and led the company’s loyalty and customer insight strategy. Earlier in his career, he held leadership positions with Sears, including Chief Strategy Officer and Vice President, Multichannel Integration.

Steve received his MBA from Harvard and a BA from Tufts University.

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