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It’s difficult to imagine how non-platform advertising & marketing worked before the advent of the big platforms (like Facebook, Google, YouTube, Amazon, Shopify, Etsy etc) because many of us began online marketing after the platforms… and the old-timers have either forgotten, moved on, or gotten knocked out of the game.

So a walk down memory lane to see what it was like — and how promotions used to work in the then-called WWW (World Wide Web) — may allow us to peer beyond the dystopian advertising & marketing models prevalent today…

Businesses then came into existence because the business owners & entrepreneurs believe they have a USP (unique selling proposition).  That is, they believe they are bringing to market either a business solution the market needs (ie. services) or a product that is perceived to be in demand by the marketplace.  This is key.  This is fundamental.  Every business needs to justify its existence to the market, niche or otherwise… or the business does not survive for long. There were plenty of literature teaching us about USPs and the WWW was full of solopreneurs, small businesses braving the “new world”.

Note:  Compare this to how many ‘online businesses’ today are now templated and cloned without any reference to unique or distinctive features.

And so promotions were designed to do that.  On the pre-platform WWW, this was done via Email Marketing.  It had this advantage:  the promotions were reaching a captive audience that had signed up to receive that information.  The advertisers and other promotional programs could receive tracking feedback to see if their promotions and advertisements were getting the interest they wanted.  If not they would tweak their promotions, or run parallel promotions to see which had better traction.

Note:  This approach is fundamentally based on self-development — asking questions about our products & services after each promotion in order to improve, etc.  Ergo it’s about both knowing ourselves as well as our customers.

The key to building USPs was trust.  Trust builds relationships.  Trusted publishers — together with trusted content, products & services — build a loyal customer base.  And so promotions were carefully crafted to present information in organized bite-sizes so that our audiences and customers also grew with us.

So let us now juxtaposition that to how today’s marketing works… when we do not know if a promotion is successful because of the content, or because of the paid hits from suspect subscribers?  What also happens if we are unable to get reliable information about our promotions from the platforms because of this?  How would we plan any improvements for future iterations?

What happens if we are unable to reach the same reader on the platform because our reach is not based on a fixed database, but scattered willy-nilly according to the vagaries of the algorithms?  How would we plan our information packages?

Clickbaits with no relevance to content, intrusive ads, “big data” with suspect subscribers, and suspect analysis with no relevance to our client base — In whose interest would that be serving?  Cloned and templated business models without reference to who we are, our unique skills and giftings, our unique offerings — Isn’t that what happened with the massive platforms?  So what about the SMEs without big advertising budgets?

Points to ponder yes?

Caveat:  I’m not saying that platforms do not work at all, that influencer marketing does not work.  I’m merely saying that it does not work as we are led to believe ie. for the little guys.  It does not work for many SMEs that want to move up the value chain, and build brands — ergo for SMEs that want to be price makers and not price takers.  The evidence so far is pointing in the direction that most platforms are actually designed to advantage just themselves and big business.

So for that segment of SMEs, particularly those in the lifestyle niche…  the non-platform model creates a more supportive, more nourishing environment for them to…

  • Build a unique selling proposition (USP) + communicate the unique value proposition (UVP) to potential customers
  • Build authority & trust
  • Run campaigns using an iterative approach, guided by authentic metrics & insights
  • Access a wider/global marketplace via private community-centered publishers of email newsletters, e-magazines, blogs
  • Maintain business independence, agency, and ownership of expandable ‘real estate’
  • Build legacy value + multiple income streams

I’ll be expanding on some of the above points in Part 2 of this series.

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