Marginal utility

Put simply; the incremental value of the new in relation to what is currently available.

Marginal utility is an excellent starting point in any conversation with the teeming hordes of enterprising alchemists that claim to own the formula that turns billions of plain vanilla online impressions into rocky road, raspberry ripple and the rest of the 32 flavors of media targeting. Yours may be better, but better than what and, for that matter, how much better?

Hard questions to answer and harder still if placed in the context of ALL marketing activity rather than online e commerce. To illustrate the point think about where ‘the bottom of the purchase funnel’ is for Unilever. Well, the answer by and large, is the aisles of WalMart which when expressed in internet terms is both an extraordnarily well targeted aggregator of traffic and curator of content on a scale that is unimaginable online.

This, of course, is an extreme example but it makes a point as to quite how difficult it is, and will be, to gain the attention of marketers with macro message delivery challenges and, just maybe, fatter fish to fry. In some respects it’s like being asked to decide between two carbon fiber bicycles in a world governed by SUV’s.

So how to extract yourself from the crowd. Well it’s the simple rules of risk and reward. Construct a proposition, minimize the risk by sacrificing your margin  (or some of your Series B millions!) and agree in advance an appropriate definition of success and a realistic sense of your ability to scale that result in the future.

We hear a great deal about the need to educate agencies and clients. My own experience is that they learn most from pratctically implemented field tests and their subsequent success or failure. Put simply a marginal but clear knowledge of the opportunity available in comparison to what was available before.

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